"People are going to be expecting a funeral, and now they'll have to be entertained."
- Mrs. Mingott (Miriam Margolyes), annoyed to discover that the entire family has been told she was dying when she had suffered only a mild stroke.
"You gave me my first glimpse of a real life and then asked me to lead a false one!"
- Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) to Countess Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), the cousin of his wife and his lover in spirit but not deed
New York Times - 09/17/1993
"...A robust gamble that pays off....The work of one of America's handful of master craftsmen..."
Premiere - 04/01/1994
"...A celebration....Magnificent performances....[Ryder] is a revelation..." - Recommended
Sight and Sound - 02/01/2994
"...All the performances are excellent, and the production is a visual tour de force..."
Variety - 09/13/1993
"...An extraordinarily sumptuous piece of filmmaking....Day-Lewis cuts an impressive figure....Ryder is also perfect..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 09/17/1993
"...THE AGE OF INNOCENCE is filmed with elegance....Each performance is modulated to preserve the delicate balance of the romantic war..."
Set in 1870s New York, Martin Scorsese's THE AGE OF INNOCENCE examines the tyranny of tradition and family heritage--and the tragic consequences of breaking society's unspoken rules. Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis), an upstanding gentleman and partner in a lucrative and conservative law firm, is engaged to the perfect society woman, the pretty and polished May Welland (Winona Ryder). They are hoping to push forward their wedding date when Newland meets Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), May's beautiful, cosmopolitan, and scandal-ridden cousin. Ellen, who has resided in Europe and cultivated a more permissive continental sensibility, believes she's found a kindred spirit in Newland. Slowly the two fall in love, and Ellen entices Newland with the vision of a life not ruled by the rigid guidelines of New York's stuffy upper crust. But May represents all the temptations and benefits of wealth, position, and propriety. Newland must make the painful choice between a passionate life with Ellen and a placid, safe life with May--the life he was born and raised to lead. In adapting the classic novel by Edith Wharton, Scorsese meticulously reconstructs the elegant world of mid-19th-century Manhattan, using an onslaught of materialistic vices--including an endless barrage of sumptuous foods--to capture the elite world even more fastidiously.
Set in New York during the 1870s, a high-society lawyer resigns himself to a passionless marriage. When a ravishing family acquaintance arrives amid the scent of sexual scandal, he contemplates acting on his awakened desires, threatening his stable, established life in the process. Based on Edith Wharton's 1920 novel, Martin Scorsese's Oscar-nominated drama is a visual feast, featuring stellar performances by Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder.
Character Study |
Love Triangle |
Period Piece |
Theatrical release: September 17, 1993. (It was originally scheduled to be released the previous autumn but was delayed in order to allow Scorsese to edit the film to his satisfaction.)
Most of the film was shot on location in New York City; Troy, New York; the Academy of Music in Philadelphia; and the Musée de Louvre in Paris. Filming began March 26, 1992, in Troy, New York, and was completed in Paris that June.
Estimated budget $30-$40 million.
Scorsese dedicated this film to his father, Luciano Charles Scorsese, who died at the age of 80 on August 23, 1993. A former garment worker with an eye for period details, Charles often acted as adviser on his son's movies. He also appeared in brief parts in GOODFELLAS, THE KING OF COMEDY, THE COLOR OF MONEY, CAPE FEAR, and Brian De Palma's WISE GUYS. In 1974, Martin produced the documentary ITALIANAMERICAN about his parents, Charles and Catherine, married for 60 years. They briefly appear in the train station sequence featured in THE AGE OF INNOCENCE.
When the film screened at the 1993 Venice Film Festival, it received largely unflattering criticism. One notable exception was the Italian communist daily Il Manifesto, which hailed the film as an indictment of capitalist bourgeois sensibilities.