played by Tilda Swinton, whose beautyrnis here made to be horrible, literallyrnvampish. She does this bloody deed inrnfront of her young son, Edward III, whornis inexplicably wearing a tuxedo, danglingrnearrings, and lipstick. (Has he gonerngay too? Or will he, when he reachesrnpuberty? And if so, do we blame thernmother?)rnBut it is not my purpose here simplyrnto deplore the film. I expected to dislikernit, and, in the end, 1 did regret some ofrnits liberties, but I was also struck by itsrnvisual power, impressed by the cast, andrnagreeably surprised by some of its subtlerrntouches. In the film version, for example,rnAndrew Tiernan’s Gaveston deliversrnhis Marlovian verse with a decidedrnCockney bite—which would have beenrnremarkably effective and apposite in thernYale production. There are predictablerngay-rights parades and demonstrations.rnThere are also a couple of dance numbersrn—one funny, the other quite strikingrn—and there is a wacky moment inrnwhich Annie Lenox of the Eurythmicsrncomes on to sing Cole Porter’s “Ev’ryrnTime We Say Goodbye” as a kind ofrnMTV dramatization of the momentrnwhen Edward (Steven Waddington),rnhaving banished Gaveston, has to sayrngood-bye.rnThe nonrepresentational space of thernplay was a series of ladders and drawbridgesrnthat could be raised and loweredrnin different configurations. The film isrnin another kind of nonrepresentationalrnsetting, some grand but primitive structurernthat has monumental walls ofrnwhitewashed stone but dirt floors, andrnthe costumes are more or less contemporary.rnIt flows with nightmare authenticityrnand has the Senecan rage and excessrnthat enliven the Elizabethan theaterrnof blood. Edward’s grotesque demise—rnLightborn, Mortimer’s agent, comes tornBerkeley Castle, does what is basically arnlove scene with Edward, and then rams arnred hot poker up his rear end—mustrnsurely rank with the butcher-shop conclusionrnof ‘Tis a Pity She’s a Whore, butrnJarman elects to switch the order ofrnthese pieces of business, giving us therndeath first, then turning that death intorna dream—because how else can we accountrnfor the fact that Edward is still living,rnstill there? And then we get the lovernscene in which Edward and Lightbornrnrather chastely kiss. Strange, but whyrnnot?rnJarman’s ending is total fancy, or, tornput it another way, has no relation whateverrnwith the text of Marlowe’s play.rnSometimes, this can work well, as whenrnQueen Isabel comes on to Gaveston,rnand he appears to be receptive to herrnstartling overture, only to turn it into arnnasty joke and, perhaps, an occasion forrnblackmail. There is an exchange of dialoguernin the play of a couple of lines thatrnJarman rips out of context to use here,rnbut there is no such action in the play.rnStill, in its suggestion of an atmospherernof general corruption, it is at least plausiblernand entirely consonant with Marlowe’srnfascination and disgust. On thernother hand, the ending is a strange piecernof business in which the young EdwardrnIII, a depraved, Caligula-like creaturernwith the tux and the earrings, is dancingrnin autoerotic triumph to the music ofrnthe Nutcracker (the “Sugarplum Fairy,”rnactually) that blares from his Walkman.rnThe camera pulls back and we see, belowrnhim, Mortimer and Isabel in formalrndress but in a cage. Marlowe thoughtrnit was sufficient to have Edward IIIrnmouth conventional pieties as he is presentedrnwith Mortimer’s head.rnHowards End has had a lot of praise,rnsome of which is deserved—the costumesrnand sets are pretty, and the actingrnis stylish if sometimes mannered. HelenarnBonham-Carter and Anthony Hopkinsrnare particularly good, althoughrnVanessa Redgrave plays Ruth Wilcoxrnwith a fatigue that is not indicated inrnthe novel and leaves us mystified as tornhow and why the friendship could haverngrown up between her and MargaretrnSchlegel (Emma Thompson). Mostly, Irnthink, there is the bandwagon syndromern—the agreeable Room with a Viewrnand Passage to India having numbed criticsrninto expecting another Merchant-rnIvory-Jhabvala translation not just of onernmore reputable Forster novel but of whatrnis most probably his masterpiece. Thisrnmoviemaking has enhanced Forster’srnreputation, and there is also the temptingrnpromise that movies can provide allrnthe good (fun? uplift? a combination ofrnthese?) of the novel without the nuisancernof our having to sound out its longrnwords or labor through the tedium of itsrnsubordinate clauses.rnI don’t get it. Anyone but a dyslexicrnwho is smart enough to enjoy this moviernis smart enough to read the book and,rntherefore, feel annoyance about a filmrnthat wrecks one after another of Forster’srncarefully planted structural devices andrnblows almost every artful surprise.rnWhen I lelen turns out to be pregnantrnrather than mad, it is, in the novel, arnstunning revelation. But if we have alreadyrnseen her making love withrnLeonard Bast in a rowboat, wc are notrnlikely to be astonished. When it turnsrnout that the Schlegels’ furniture hasrnbeen unpacked and installed in HowardsrnEnd, in the book this is a quirky actionrnof the dotty housekeeper, and thereforerna kind of miracle. The house, itself,rnseems to be welcoming them and evenrncalling out for the reparation of the oldrnwrong of the denied inheritance. In thernfilm, we see the housekeeper arrangingrnthe Schlegels’ possessions and thus cannotrnbe surprised or amazed. (Neitherrncan we possibly understand why HenryrnWilcox thinks it impossible for anyonernto spend even one night there.)rnClumsy, pretentious, and wrongheadedrnaltogether, the film is worst of allrnmonotonous. The range and the passionrnof the novel are missing. The wayrnin which Forster, a homosexual, lookedrnat the constraints of class and monevrnand how these affect heterosexual lovernwas fascinating, and his disinterestedrncompassion informed and enlivened arnbook far too engaging for this dull andrnpompous presentation. The great lovernof Forster’s life was with a young manrnnamed Mohammed, an Alexandrianrntram conductor—a liaison that wouldrnhave been impossible for heterosexualsrnbecause, with them, the issue is issuernand there are property rights as well asrnproprieties to worry about. Forsterrntaught Latin for a while at the WorkingrnMen’s College in Bloomsbury where hernwould have met a number of LeonardrnBasts and even fallen in love with onernor another of them—although for himrnto express such love would have beenrneven more ruinous than it was for HelenrnSchlegel.rnI cannot for the life of me imaginernwhat the reviewers were thinking whornlavished praise on this traduction—asrnmost did. When I was a kid and workingrnas the flicker-picker at Newsweek, thernonly movie reviewer who seemed to mernsane and reliable was Brendan Gill. Hernmoved on to other, loftier realms—theaterrnand then architecture. And no onerntrustworthy seems to be left. Except forrnme, of course.rnSuch conclusions can be occasions forrnconcern about one’s mental health—rnbut not, I think, this time.rnDavid R. Slavitt is a poet and novelistrnwho hves in Philadelphia.rn50/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn