Film- The Age Of Innocence

Director- Martin Scorsese

Year of Release- 1993

Running Time- 139 Minutes

Cast- Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder


THE AGE OF INNOCENCE is based on the book by Edith Wharton. The story takes us to New York in the 1870s. The period referred to as the “Gilded Age Society” filled with aristocrats, lawyers, and industrialists. The movie portrays the state of affairs of a troubled marriage. The unhappy groom, Newland Archer, a young lawyer, blissfully engaged to wed May Welland, who is raised in a wealthy and respected family of New York. The couple enjoys a short period of their marriage in a society where marriage is the foremost way of living in the respectable elite society. After celebrating few years of togetherness in their marriage, Newland encounters May’s cousin Countess Ellen Olenska, who is on the run of her unhappy marriage. Newland finds himself attracted to her, going at odds with the social norms.


Newland Archer

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Newland Archer played by Dany Day-Lewis is a wealthy and successful lawyer. He is married to a beautiful woman he adores and respects. He is a perfect example of the way of life of people in the upper-class domesticity. But his perfect image of himself comes to the shake when he meets his wife’s cousin. Newland cannot resist himself but fall in love with this strong and empowering woman. His attraction has made him torn between his responsibilities towards society, his wife with his love for Ellen.

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Countess Ellen Olenska

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Michelle Pfeiffer playing Countess Ellen Olenska demonstrates herself as an independent woman who is not ready to take violence and disrespect from his husband and is not compelled to live in the society she is expected to live in. In contrast to her feminist side, is her love for Archer. Indeed she loved him immensely, still, she pushed him away from herself knowing the fact how Archer’s reputation is equally important for him.

May Welland

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May Welland, Played by Winona Ryder is a wealthy and comforted brought-up. As a result, she is expected to behave sophisticatedly, therefore, avoid any kind of misbehave. May loves and supports her husband Newland very much. But she is not naïve as the audience has seen her. She notices the reality. Nonetheless, she ends up understanding and faithful to her husband as well as her cousin Ellen, even after recognizing their love for each other.

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The film is based in New York in the period, the 1870s. It was a period of class, novelty, and wealth, considered as living a respectable life.

The situation in which Ellen falls, leaving her husband, and getting a divorce already makes her being discourteous towards society. The females expect to spend their whole life with their husbands irrespective of the problems and struggles. Therefore, falling in love with Newland, another married man makes her more miserable and vulnerable.

Whereas, Newland is an obedient young gentleman who is a wealthy aristocrat living between high-class men. His loyalty to his class changes when he falls in love with Ellen. His thinking towards his society takes a turn when he sees how an independent woman lives and challenges society. But his loyalty towards his wife and society makes him impotent to leave her. Though he decides to leave his wife and his wealth behind, May’s pregnancy makes him even more vulnerable. As a result, he spends his life living for his children and accepts his fate.

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On the contrary, even after witnessing her Husband’s love for another woman, May chooses to live with it intentionally, keeping her family above anything. Divorcing in their age was a sin for women that makes her husband available to other men who may not have good intentions towards them.


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The film is a masterpiece of Scorsese. The man who has made movies like Taxi Driver and Goodfellas, The Age of Innocence is a violent art. His romantic fantasy has destroyed the viewer in a gorgeous way. The soothing and expressing dialogues with language subtlety make it beautiful. The freeze frames and subtle panning makes it plain but alluring.  The expressions delivered by the actors fill the need for the dialogues. The innocence of eyes with slow dialogues. The breakthrough of the Scorsese style is the end of the film where it is heart-wrenching to see the Newland walk away.