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"He had a theory that musicians are incredibly complex, and know far less than other artists what they want and what they are; that they puzzle themselves as well as their friends; that their psychology is a modern development, and has not yet been understood." – E. M. Forster

Wednesday, 25 May 2005

Goodbye, Ismail Merchant

I’ve just read the news that Ismail Merchant, of Merchant Ivory Productions, died today in London. He was 68. (Here’s the AP/Yahoo news report.)

I’m very saddened, and at this point, I can’t form the words to write everything I want to write. I will say that his death is a great loss. He, James Ivory, and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala formed the filmmaking team that made me a fan of E. M. Forster and deeply influenced my life. The Merchant-Ivory-Jhabvala adaptation of Howards End still ranks as my all-time favorite movie, 12 years after I first saw it. I am sorry that I did not get to meet Mr Merchant to thank him personally, and that I did not write him the letter that I’ve meant to write for years.

I met James Ivory at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books last month…he made over 40 movies with Ismail Merchant. My sincerest condolences to Mr Merchant’s family and friends, including James Ivory and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.

I have a lot more to say, but I’ll have to come back when I’m better able to communicate my thoughts.

Posted at 2:54 pm | Filed under Film, News commentary

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2 replies


  1. I heard Bob Mondello waxing about it coming home from work and immediately thought of you.

    Here is the NPR report: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4666855


  2. I appreciate that, madbard. Thanks.

    It’s going to take a while for me to organize my thoughts about this, so don’t be surprised if I blog about other things in the meantime. This also means that my report on the Festival of Books (which is related, as you now know) is going to be postponed a little longer.