Howards End, adapted from E. M. Forster's 1910 novel Howards End, is one of the few movies I can watch over and over again and never tire of. I am endlessly fascinated by one facet or another. Sometimes I can only think of the story and the characters. Sometimes I turn the sound off entirely and just enjoy the fashion, architecture and customs of an era gone by.
Today I focus only on the tea moments.
Howards End deals with the struggles of 3 families in different classes. Forster's epigraph in the novel aptly condenses the story into two words -- "Only connect". The characters in the story are all dealing with the class differences and attitudes that prevent true connectedness, each in their own way.
The Schlegel family having tea in a truly scrumptuous setting. I just love the muted colors throughout the movie, but this tea table just sings with comfortable gentility. Lovely, but not regal; fine but not off-putting.
Except to poor Leoard Bast, who arrives, desperate to retrieve his mistakenly pilfered umbrella, and is swooped in upon by the sisters Schlegel and offered tea, scones, a plate, a cup, etc.
Their offers of hospitality are apparently overwhelming to a man unaccustomed to fine things. He feels awkward and uncomfortable to the point where he cannot speak and cannot accept their offers. His sense of his own inferiority prevents him from being able to make a connection in spite of their obvious efforts to bridge the gap.
Eventually he makes an awkward escape and goes back to his own realm where the tea has been laid and his Jacky is waiting.
The contrast between the settings, the company, the food, is all too blaring and seems to only reinforce the class division he feels.
There are so many wonderful tea moments in this movie, it's difficult to pick and choose which to share here. The next few photos are offered mostly because I'm enamored of the china.
This lovely tea set appears at the Shlegel's aunt Juley's breakfast table at the very beginning of the movie.
The pattern looks like a delicate ivy leaf in a pale sage green. I'm not knowledgeable enough to know the make or what this style is called. But I seriously covet it.
Another colorful china pattern is shown here in a scene that takes place at Howards End, where the Wilcox family discusses the future of the property over tea.
Do we assume that since the Wilcoxes are in a class above, this china reflects their status? I don't like it as well as Aunt Juley's china, but it's interesting.
My last tea moment offering is a repeat of the Schlegel's tea table, later in the film when Leonard comes to tea, invited by the sisters who are intent on doing him some good. I love the contrast between this scene and the earlier one. He has so obviously prepared carefully for the event, arriving dressed and combed and armed with his very best manners.
As a side note - for those who are interested I found this blog post: DerekMDesign: Peppard Cottage revisited which is definitely worth a peek-in. There are some wonderful photos and anecdotes about Peppard Cottage where Howards End was filmed. A lovely place.