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Age of Innocence

The Age of Innocence

3.8 16
Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder


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In Martin Scorsese's adaptation of Edith Wharton's 1920 novel, romance between an upper-class gentleman and an ostracized lady is doomed by 19th century New York society. Shortly after his engagement to blandly genteel May Welland (Winona Ryder), Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) is reacquainted with May's scandalous cousin Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer). As the


In Martin Scorsese's adaptation of Edith Wharton's 1920 novel, romance between an upper-class gentleman and an ostracized lady is doomed by 19th century New York society. Shortly after his engagement to blandly genteel May Welland (Winona Ryder), Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) is reacquainted with May's scandalous cousin Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer). As the head of an esteemed family, Archer initially uses his standing to try to rehabilitate Ellen's reputation, but he finds himself increasingly drawn to her disregard for the codes of New York manners. Bound by ingrained society mores and his peers' insinuations, Newland tries to dodge his growing passion by rushing his marriage to May, but he cannot keep himself from confessing his love to Ellen. Recognizing that Newland could never abandon his sense of honor and be happy, Ellen pushes Newland to May and leaves town. The marriage proceeds as dictated, but when Newland unexpectedly sees Ellen again, he yearns for the affair to come to fruition. However, he underestimates not only what May knows but also her ability to uphold the rules of propriety. Sumptuously shot by Michael Ballhaus, the film offers meticulously designed costumes and settings that evoke a culture as seductively beautiful in its surfaces as it is stifling in its rituals. Unspoken emotions are expressed through such details as yellow roses or a clipped cigar, a fade to red or a single camera move. Using Wharton's original prose to comment on the setting's hypocrisies, Joanne Woodward's voiceover narration suggests how much decisive power is buried beneath dainty femininity. The Age of Innocence received five Oscar nominations, including Best Supporting Actress for Ryder and Best Screenplay for Scorsese and Jay Cocks, and a win for Best Costumes. Although The Age of Innocence seemed like a departure from Scorsese's prior work, Newland is as much at the mercy of his circle's Byzantine structure (and his own conscience) as are Scorsese's more familiar mobsters; Newland's persecutors just wear white tie and tails.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Robert Firsching
The 1990s brought a number of films about forbidden romance in Victorian society. Apart from the contributions of James Ivory and Ismail Merchant, as well as Titanic and The Wings of the Dove, there was this beautifully acted, impeccably directed effort from Martin Scorsese. Repression and sexual longing are the order of the day, but Scorsese is too clever a filmmaker to allow Edith Wharton's themes of sacrifice and passion to lead him into melodrama. The film is about those things, but it is also a story about social and familial responsibility, one of the very few of its type in which the conventions of the time don't seem laughably hypocritical. These people are indeed playing emotional chess, and they are being very careful, because every move means a loss of one form or another. The cast is terrific and the production design is gorgeous, but -- like many of the public charades its characters are forced to enact -- there is more to this film than appearances.
Washington Post
In the movies, we're usually ushered to the mannered past by the stuffy Merchant-Ivory team. What a sublime pleasure it is, then, to experience The Age of Innocence through the eyes of Martin Scorsese.... Instead of "Masterpiece Theatre"-style fawning, he fills this movie with visual flow, masterful cinematography and assured direction. There's an alert, thinking presence behind the camera. And, in front of the camera, performers Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder suffuse this saga of repressed longing and spiritual suffering with elegant authority. Desson Howe

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Image Entertainment
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Daniel Day-Lewis Newland Archer
Michelle Pfeiffer Countess Ellen Olenska
Winona Ryder May Welland
Miriam Margolyes Mrs. Mingott
Richard Grant Larry Lefferts
Alec McCowen Sillerton Jackson
Geraldine Chaplin Mrs. Welland
Mary Beth Hurt Regina Beaufort
Stuart Wilson Julius Beaufort
Sian Phillips Mrs. Archer
Michael Gough Henry Van Der Luyden
Alexis Smith Mrs. Louisa Van Der Luyden
Norman Lloyd Mr. Letterblair
Jonathan Pryce Monsieur Riviere
Carolyn Farina Janey Archer
Robert Sean Leonard Ted Archer
Thomas Barbour Archer Guest
Claire Bloom Actor
W.B. Brydon Mr. Urban Dagonet
Brian Davies Philip
Patricia Dunnock Mary Archer
Tracey Ellis Gertrude Lefferts
Howard Erskine Beaufort Guest
Henry Fehren Bishop
Clement Fowler Florist
Thomas Gibson Stage Actor
John McLoughlin Party Guest
Catherine Scorsese Actor
Charles Scorsese Actor
Domenica Scorsese Katie Blenker
Martin Scorsese Photographer (uncredited)
June Squibb Mingott Maid
Joanne Woodward Narrator
Zoe Herself

Technical Credits
Martin Scorsese Director,Screenwriter
Michael Ballhaus Cinematographer
Elmer Bernstein Score Composer
Jay Cocks Screenwriter
Barbara de Fina Producer
David M. Dunlap Camera Operator
Syd Dutton Special Effects
Dante Ferretti Production Designer
Robert Franco Set Decoration/Design
Speed Hopkins Art Director
Jean-Michel Hugon Art Director
Ellen Lewis Casting
Tod A. Maitland Sound/Sound Designer
Amy Marshall Set Decoration/Design
Gabriella Pescucci Costumes/Costume Designer
Bruce S. Pustin Co-producer
Joseph P. Reidy Associate Producer
Thelma Schoonmaker Editor
Bill Taylor Special Effects
Allen Weisinger Makeup
Edith Wharton Source Author

Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Scene Selections
1. Start [5:09]
2. The Welland Box [4:45]
3. The Annual Opera Ball [5:12]
4. Mrs. Mingott [9:40]
5. The Van Der Luydens [1:05]
6. Duke of St. Austrey Dinner [5:05]
7. Asking for His Help [4:50]
8. The Flower Shop [1:04]
9. The Aviary [2:37]
10. Talking Business [2:29]
11. The Shaughraun [3:47]
12. What She's Running From [5:29]
13. "Is There Someone Else?" [2:48]
14. "There's Another Woman" [6:20]
15. European Honeymoon [9:36]
16. Newport Archery Club [3:08]
17. The Blenker House [5:38]
18. Boston Common [2:07]
19. Why the Countess Stays [:07]
20. The Beaufort Finances [3:56]
21. In the Carriage [5:11]
22. The Art Museum [1:13]
23. Key to His Release [6:02]
24. Something Important to Say [5:28]
25. Farewell Dinner [1:22]
26. May's News [2:23]
27. In Paris [4:34]
28. Outside the Apartment [6:04]


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The Age of Innocence 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shemy More than 1 year ago
Good story - very slow moving
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Don't miss this movie. I just read the novel by Edith Wharton and then I rented the movie. It is completely faithful to the book. Daniel Day-Lewis is pure animal magnetism ! He will evoke sympathy in even the most hardened movie watcher. This is way more than just a "romance" it is brilliant movie-making.
Daun More than 1 year ago
Martin Scorsese, whose brilliant and gritty crime dramas have made him a legend in film-making, has demonstrated far more than versatility in his translation of Edith Wharton's great novel of 1870s New York society. His skills as a film-maker are on display here as nowhere else, and they are magnificent. He is one of Hollywood's great story-tellers. (One wonders, as a result of viewing _Age of Innocence_, if Merchant-Ivory should have been compelled to make an action-adventure movie, or if Michael Mann should have been forced to film a romantic comedy.) The cinematography is magnificent, showing the muted colors of a bygone, genteel age. The acting is superb: Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer have never done better. Winona Ryder, considered by many to be a lightweight, proves her critics wrong with a portrayal of a complicated yet essentially simple character who stuns both the audience and her fellow characters with her intelligently desperate manipulation and concealed will. The supporting cast (including Richard E. Grant, Geraldine Chaplin, and Jonathan Pryce) is strong and yet unobtrusive, as it should be for what is essentially a three-person story. The only drawback is the heavy-handed score. I probably shouldn't complain when a film-maker goes to the trouble to create an original score in an age of pop-song excesses, but the fact is that I noticed the soundtrack when I should have been lost in this absorbing tale. Soundtracks should be like baseball umpires: if you notice them during a game, something is wrong.
JCWilkerson More than 1 year ago
In 19th century New York high society, Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) is engaged to the conventional May Welland (Winona Ryder). Things start to change for Newland when May's cousin, the unconventional Dutchess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), moves to New York following the separation of her and her Polish Count husband. As Newland helps her through legal matters Newland begins to fall in love with her, and begins to question his relationship with May. Martin Scorsese had been considering making a romance for years, but could never seem to find the right project. Then in 1980 screenwriter Jay Cocks gave Scorsese a copy of Edith Wharton's book The Age of Innocence saying, "When you do that romantic piece, this one is you." Seven years later, Scorsese finally read the book and decided to make the movie. Not only did he make the movie, he got his first choice for the three leads in the cast. This movie gives an interesting look into the gossipy nature of old school high society New York. Through the narration of the movie you really feel like you're being thrust into the middle of these people's lives. You hear the gossip, see the backstabbing, and deal with the "rules" of residing in high society. It's because of the toying with emotions and backstabbing that occurs in high society that Scorsese said this is the most violent movie he ever made. In high society it's only natural that people will hide their true feelings beneath the surface, and here the actors due a superb job at exemplifying that trait. Daniel Day-Lewis is superb as a the man torn between his fiance and her cousin, but trying to hide it from the world. Michelle Pfeiffer is amazing as the woman who catches Newland's heart with her unorthodox behavior. But it's Winona Ryder who steals the show. As May, she plays a character who acts clueless, but underneath she's broken by what's going on and plotting to keep her husband. If you like period dramas or Scorsese films I highly recommend this film. To be honest, I wasn't exactly sure how I felt about this movie when I was first done watching this, but in the time since I've thought about it and I have to admit that I'm definitely going to be watching it again. Scorsese definitely scored another masterpiece with this '93 period romance. 4/5
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The age of innocence is Scorsese's masterpiece, a true work of art, a magnificent movie. It's a little slow, but if you can stand it, you'll be rewarded. Breathtaking, visually amazig, and so poignant...I love it.