R.I.P. - Ismail Merchant

Now a time for quiet reflection.
When I saw A Room with a View ca. 1990, I didn't know what to expect. I had never really seen a period piece--rather a costume drama. I had never read E.M. Forster, but much like the heroine Lucy Honeychurch, someone had entered my life and given me a window through which I could view a part of the world I would otherwise never have seen.
Ismail Merchant died on Wednesday due to complications from ulcer surgery. His legacy includes over 50 films and television programs and an array of awards and nominations. I became aware of Merchant and his partner James Ivory around the time that I was becoming aware of my sexual orientation. Their film Maurice was a comforting story for a confusing time in my life. It led me to the works of Forster and an better understanding of queer history. Knowing that Merchant was an independent--that he could wrangle finances for a period piece outside of the studio system--always filled me with admiration. His contribution to the art of filmmaking is indelible. He will not be forgotten, but he will be sorely missed.

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