As part of the re-release of key Merchant-Ivory movies, A Room With A View has been released in a 2-disc SE with remastered picture and revamped 5.1 sound and a host of extas on a second disc. The movie is based on E.M. Forster's great novel of the same name and concerns Lucy Honeychurch, a typical upper-middle class young woman of the period, who, chaperoned by her aunt, is doing a tour of Italy (to see the art treasures) before being married off into a life of dull, if financially secure, domesticity. During her stay in Florence, she meets a young man not bound by the staid conventions of the time, who awakens her physical side. Were this a modern tale, we could expect all that such a phrase entails, but quite simply all he does is kiss her - once. By the standards of the time (Edwardian Britain in the 1900s) this is quite shocking behaviour, and enough for Lucy and chaperone to bring forward their plans and return to England at once. The scene then moves to the idyllic (and oh so dull) setting of rural England. Lucy has got engaged to a socially suitable (but irredeemably wet) character called Cecil. And then, by chance, the young man who kissed her rents a cottage in the village where Lucy lives ... Now all of this sounds very very silly, but watch the movie and you'll see that it's not. You rapidly get assimilated into the mores and manners of the time and it all makes sense. The film was a big hit in the USA (and the UK) when released, and generally it's a charming film (if with a rather predictable ending). I personally have never totally warmed to the movie because I love Forster's novels, and I think that it trivialises a lot of his more profound arguments. The characters are also far more two-dimensional than in the novel. This isn't helped by the acting, which in hindsight seems a little two-dimensional at times. However, this could be because exquisite little British costume dramas have now become commonplace and the whole genre feels rather tired. Having said this, it's preferable to a join-up-the-dots action movie, so these criticisms should be seen as relative, not absolute. Regarding the transfer, it's as good as we're likely to get. The 5.1 sound does show up some of the limitations of the original recording. I thought that a lot of the dialogue sounded a little 'boxy' and the music a bit muffled, though others may disagree. There is a commentary by cast and crew which I confess I haven't listened to, having grown utterly bored with 'X was wonderful in this scene'-type sycophancy on other DVDs. If this commentary is any different, please let me know. The extras are interesting. The movie was originally made by Channel 4 Films, an offshoot of a UK commercial TV company. Channel 4 Films closed down a couple of years ago, and the distribution rights to their films were passed to the BBC (at least in the USA). This may be to our advantage, because the BBC has impressive archives. Included on the extras are three clips from BBC Breakfast Time (obviously enough, a breakfast-time TV show, still a novelty in 80's Britain) reporting contemporary reaction to the movie, plus interviews with Simon Callow and Daniel Day-Lewis. These are interesting in their own right, but also fascinating for a Brit as a reminder of a couple of popular interviewers of the time (one of whom fell from grace a few years later in a sex and drugs scandal of quite lurid proportions). The jewel in the crown, however, is a BBC programme made just after Forster's death in 1970 and includes some of the greats of English literary criticism discussing Forster's work. This was at a time when the BBC wasn't afraid to follow its original mandate to inform as well as entertain, and there is no dumbing-down. Overall, unless the phrase 'Merchant-Ivory' has you instinctively reaching for the sick-bag, this is a movie I would strongly recommend.