It was a movie we all felt strongly about, because nobody really wanted us to make it: 30 Years of James Ivory’s Maurice (1987): An Inaugural Lecture by Professor Claire Monk

Date

2018-02-22

Advisors

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

ISSN

DOI

Volume Title

Publisher

N/A

Type

Presentation

Peer reviewed

No

Abstract

Professorial Inaugural Lecture: A public talk delivered as part of DMU Pride Month 2018.

Professor Monk’s inaugural lecture reflected on the production and reception history of James Ivory’s Edwardian gay male romance Maurice (1987), adapted from E. M. Forster’s novel of the same title by the renowned international Merchant Ivory Productions partnership. Their film celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2017 and is now recognised as an LGBTQ+ film classic.

Ivory’s Maurice was the first affirmative mainstream gay film. Even today, following a decade of big-screen breakthroughs such as Brokeback Mountain, Carol and Moonlight, it remains one of very few LGBTQ+ films to reward its hero with a happy ending. And, unlike these US examples, Maurice was made in the UK, on a tiny budget, in the mid-1980s at the peak of the HIV/AIDS crisis. It reached British cinemas as the Thatcher Government’s most virulent anti-gay legislation, the notorious Section 28, was brewing.

During Maurice’s production and after, Ivory and Merchant for the most part played down the challenges they faced – but nonetheless, much of the detail of the film’s production, release and reception which emerges from published sources and Ivory’s production files indicates that it was a film made and released against numerous odds. ‘It was a movie we all felt strongly about, because nobody really wanted us to make it,’ Ivory said in 2012 (Ouzounian, Toronto Star, 21 June).

Drawing on insights from her 20-year career as a specialist in British cinema and its reception, and new research in Ivory’s own production archives, Professor Monk’s lecture explored the behind-the-scenes story of this landmark film. What was it like to make and release a gay film classic – and classic gay ‘heritage’ literary adaptation – in the 1980s?

Ten days after this lecture was delivered, Ivory became, at 89, the oldest Academy Award-winner in history, winning the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for the male same-sex coming-of-age romance Call Me By Your Name.

Description

Keywords

Citation

Monk, C. (2018) It was a movie we all felt strongly about, because nobody really wanted us to make it: 30 Years of James Ivory’s Maurice (1987): An Inaugural Lecture by Professor Claire Monk, De Montfort University, Leicester, February 2018.

Rights

Research Institute

Cinema and Television History Institute (CATHI)