Bigger Than Life Presents: The Age of Innocence & Introduction at Stockport Plaza

Tom Grieve, Cinema Editor

Bigger Than Life presents: The Age of Innocence (35mm) + Introduction at Stockport Plaza Cinema, Stockport 7 October 2018 Tickets from £7.50 — Book now

When we picture Martin Scorsese’s New York, the vision is one of sleazy cabbies, wise-cracking crooks, low-life chancers and bruised brawlers. The filmmaker’s images of the slick, litter strewn streets, underground drinking dens and gaudy glamour have produced an cinematic idea of the city that’s hard to shake. From Mean Streets to Goodfellas, New York, New York to Taxi Driver, Raging Bull to Gangs of New York through The Wolf of Wall Street, perhaps only Woody Allen’s films are as tied up with the big apple as Scorsese’s.

Yet there’s one film that’s mentioned less than the others, one less obviously of a piece with Scorsese’s other New York films: The Age of Innocence. Set in the 1870s, Scorsese’s adaptation of Edith Wharton’s classic romance stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Newland Archer, a high society lawyer, happily engaged to be married to his beautiful fiancee, May Welland (Winona Ryder). Happily engaged, that is, until May’s cousin, the disgraced Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer) enters the scene. Charming and intelligent, Ellen is a better match for Newland, but as their feelings grow, it becomes clear that their previous romantic entanglements mean that their love is an impossible one.

Scorsese’s other New York films are defined by masculine codes of the street, by gangsterism and the rules of the hustle. Similarly, the upper crust characters of The Age of Innocence are governed by their own particular societal constitution. Ellen arrives in New York under a cloud, having fled Europe and her abusive husband, but she finds a city whose elite are still painfully in thrall to old world propriety. She mocks and chastises the preciousness with which her new companions look to Europe: “Do you suppose Christopher Columbus would have taken all that trouble just to go to the opera with Larry Lefferts?”

There are no baseball bats, but Scorsese finds violence in the gilded language and conniving behaviour used to maintain the status quo. Drawing from Wharton’s novel, he exposes the particular ache of grand romance forbidden only by social convention. One of the filmmaker’s most vital talents is in sketching and filling in the milieu of his films. In Goodfellas, the world of the mafioso is made real because we are shown the pasta sauce and the cadence of a joke. With The Age of Innocence, Scorsese contrasts the emotional repression of his characters with the sumptuous opulence of their residences, their menus and their orders at the florist in a way that makes this one of his most visually arresting works.

“…one of Scorsese’s most visually arresting works.”

The production reportedly paid $200,000 to a New York firm for reproductions of 200 period paintings with which to decorate the sets. This attention to detail in consistent throughout the film, with exquisite costuming, lush period architecture and swooping tracking shots each worthy of their own individual gasps. Indeed, Scorsese assembled an all-star team of craftspeople for the film. Aside from a cast chock-full of top-of-their-game actors, The Age of Innocence boasts memorable titles from Saul Bass (Vertigo, Psycho) and a score by Elmer Bernsein (The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape). Longtime Scorsese editor Thelma Schoonmaker (Raging Bull, Goodfellas) is on cutting duty, and legendary New German Cinema cinematographer, and Scorsese regular, Michael Ballhaus (The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, Goodfellas) takes his place behind the camera.

The filmmakers are of course buoyed by Edith Wharton’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel. The film benefits from her elegant prose and wisely retains much of her language through Joanne Woodward’s narration. The relationship between book and film will be explored further at Bigger Than Life’s screening with an introduction by Professor Dame Janet Beer. Professor Beer is Vice Chancellor of University of Liverpool and an academic who has published widely on the fiction, travel and life writings of Edith Wharton. The film will also screen from an original 35mm release print, delivered courtesy of Park Circus.

Bigger Than Life presents: The Age of Innocence (35mm) + Introduction at Stockport Plaza Cinema, Stockport 7 October 2018 Tickets from £7.50 Book now

Where to go near Bigger Than Life Presents: The Age of Innocence & Introduction at Stockport Plaza

Manchester
Museum
Air Raid Shelters

Carved into the natural sandstone cliffs, the intriguing network of underground tunnels offers visitors an unparalleled insight into life in wartime Britain in the 1940’s.

Image licensed with iStock.
Stockport
Library
Stockport Central Library

Stockport Central Library is a Carnegie library, built 1913–15 in the Edwardian Baroque style. It continues to serve as Stockport’s largest library.

Stockport Memorial Gallery on Wellington Road Stockport.
Manchester
Gallery
Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery

Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery aims to give emerging artists the space to showcase their work. It has a varied programme, though its exhibitions often return to themes linked to…

Manchester
Museum
Hat Works Museum

Top hats, bowlers, trilbies …. who doesn’t love a hat? Visit the UK’s only collection devoted to hats which celebrates Stockport’s role in the hatting industry.

The Produce Hall
Stockport
The Produce Hall

This Stockport-based modern food hall has a beer-focused bar and plenty of food stalls to satisfy all tastes.

Stockport
Bar or Pub
Bohemian Arts Club

Bohemian Arts Club is a chic and intimate cocktail bar in Stockport owned by Blossoms singer Tom and Katie Ogden.

Odioba
Stockport
Restaurant
Odioba

Odioba is a new audiophile bar in Stockport, from the team behind the much-missed NAM. Coffee shop by day, bar by night.

Stockport
Restaurant
Where The Light Gets In

It might be in Stockport but Where The Light Gets In serves up some of the most magical food in the UK. With a fixed multi-course tasting menu that changes with the season and a strictly limited number of seats, this is the North’s best-kept secret.

Manchester
Shop
Vintage Village in Stockport

Find quality authentic vintage clothing and accessories for men and women, vintage jewellery, homewares, decorative items, textiles, luggage, furniture, curios and collectables, and unexpected delights you never knew you wanted, all at this pop-up village in Stockport every month.

What's on: Cinema

Until
CinemaCheetham Hill
Jewish Culture Club

Meet new people, explore contemporary cultural works and learn about Jewish culture with Jewish Culture Club at Manchester Jewish Museum.

free entry
A still from the original Godzilla, showing the monster terrorising Tokyo.
Until
Cinema
KaiJuly at Showroom Cinema

Showroom present a celebration of all thing’s kaiju, of giant monsters, rubber suits, of nuclear horrors, mystical fantasy, and royal rumble free-for-alls. The Godzilla franchise is recognised as the longest continuously running film franchise in history, with 33 Japanese films to its name, and 5 US productions.

from £5.00

Culture Guides