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The Age of Innocence is a major film by celebrated American director Martin Scorcese. It is a sumptuous dramatisation of the novel by Edith Wharton - about a well to do young man, Newland Archer, engaged to a society debutante, May Welland. Into his world of privilege and conformity however comes the beautiful Countess Olenska. In spite of himself, Newland becomes infatuated, and ultimately has to grapple with the unthinkable - leaving his fiancee for a married woman. This rich period piece deals with universal themes - love, loyalty, the age old conflict between the individual and society. This study guide provides background on the author and director, as well as contextual information about the 'grammar' of film, before offering a summary and detailed explication of the movie. It includes thorough notes on characters and themes, as well as critical references and model answers.