Granthams and Crawleys … all things English, all things family & all things 1920s!! After ruling hearts of so many fans as a successful series, the next installment on the whereabouts of Julian Fellowes’ people of Downton Abbey is coming in form of a film!
If you already don’t know, Downton Abbey is a period drama – and that too at its best! The first episode aired back in September of 2010 and they concluded the final season in 2015. Now almost after a decade of when it all started, the full-length movie will be released in the US on September 20th, 2019 and we the fans are waiting in full anticipation, as we did every time next season was about to come! The big screen debut picks up the lives of the inhabitants of the house, upstairs and downstairs, from where we left them.
A throwback to the aristocratic families of post Edwardian UK, Downton Abbey truly complemented the comeback of vintage elegance and finesse, trendy fashion of the time, stately interiors, formal luxury tablescapes with the signature British English crockery. Beautifully set in the Highclere Castle that stands in the midst of Berkshire with all its glory, elegance and stately magnificence, this production is phenomenally presented. Anyone who loves style, history and family will fall in love with the beautiful house, its décor, its grandeur and above all people who lived in it with all thier virtues and vices. The story line is strong since episode one, runs both parallel and intertwined between the owners and the servants. The emotional ups and downs, love stories, adventure, family secrets, social deviations, all against the backdrop of changing times of 1920s make everything so real. Julian Fellowes, the writer, delivers and delights millions of people with true characters, that are unforgettable even after the serial was completed. The dialogues peppered throughout reflect the authentic essence of English wit and humor.
The opening scene of Mr. Bates sitting in the train heading towards Downton Abbey always helps me settle down with my cup of tea in my living room and anticipate the whole series. Yes, I have watched it various times with my husband. I believe it is more calming to watch a good show second time (ahem sixth time!) that you have enjoyed already, than to start a new commitment you are not sure about – not that I am not a risk-taker but I like my time after a busy day well-spent!
Downton Abbey entertained and played with emotions of a good percentage of at least UK-US viewers. The journey of each character, its evolution and transformation by the end of the show was one of the best viewing experiences. You realize this more when you start the series again – how they started and where they landed in life! I have to say all the characters crafted by Fellowes are one of a kind, wonderfully real and authentically human, but two that stand out to me and made home in my heart are the Dowager Countess and Lady Edith.
Violet Crawly-Dowager Countess:
The role is played by one of the greatest assets of England, Dame Maggie Smith. The star already enjoys an international presence for her signature English roles in many movies. In the series, she justifies the role of Dowager Countess to its fullest. I absolutely love her character and persona. She has many sides to her personality, but she is so put together in every situation and has great insight for human mind! Although she can be mean, can come across as rude and would want her own way in every matter but she is most well-meaning lady for many people. She would do anything – in vision and behind the scene to keep her family together, knows how to be loyal and sincere.
It’s a hard feat for anyone to keep secrets from Violet Crawly as she will get to the bottom of it and on top of that, she is equipped with answer for everything. Her one-liners make the series so much fun to watch. Her meaningless battles, spousal quips with Isobel and occasional in-law treatment with Cora, are thoroughly entertaining. The Dowager does not like the winds of change, despises electricity and phones but is sensible enough to understand the inevitability. She appears and claims to be traditional but knows when to extend and bend the rules especially when it came to her granddaughters, their love and marital affairs. This seasoned lady does not on many instances forgets the mistakes the young can make and secrets youth can hold. “One way or another, every woman goes down the aisle with half the story hidden.” She rises to the occasion higher than the generation following her. Not of a modern stance, she understands the call of the time.
Dowager Coutness’ quotes are most famous of all the cast and in or out of context, are a source of illumination, wisdom and humor!
Before I start praising Lady Edith, I know a lot of people may favor Lady Mary but somehow the latter could never come on top of my fan list. I adored her many times and loved her many more times, admired her resilience, sympathized with her for her sad tragedy, but could not come to terms with her controlling nature, “I am always right” attitude and her nasty behavior towards Lady Edith.
Over the span of 12 year-story, the quote that best suits Lady Edith is Friedrich Nietzsche’s: “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” When we were touring Highclere last year, we were told of all the cast, Lady Edith was the only name and maybe personality that was taken from the ancestors of Highclere. They also had a picture of the real Lady Edith in one of their corridors!
The middle child of Granthams, Edith (played successfully by Laura Carmichael) starts off as a very rude, nasty, unsympathetic and jealous person – for maybe the right reasons. It seemed like nobody noticed her, she had extremely low self-esteem, and was bullied by her older sister, Lady Mary. Besides being ignored and absent from the spotlight, she had an unsuccessful array of bad lucks in the matters of heart, from slight one-sided love to serious ones that resulted badly at the altar. Her appearance in first seasons or two did not warrant any likability or main role, she was actually annoying! But as the series progressed, she suffers and suffer more, gets stronger by each blow and then by the end she elevates herself with a beautiful unmatched poise!
Her initial awkwardness gets replaced by confidence, her resentment replaced with ambition and her style-less garbs with swanky and somewhat daring wardrobe of the glamorous ’20s. It was to Lady Edith that Countess’ quote was directed: “You are a woman with a brain and reasonable ability. Stop whining and find something to do”. And find she does something for herself! She becomes a strong person with a reason to live and finds a mind of her own to make her choices. She takes bold and sometimes wrong steps and bears the consequences bravely. Of all the people of Downton Abbey, it will not be wrong to say that she was the one who had embraced, by choice or by need, the most modern aspects of the then life; she learnt how to drive the car, became a publisher, worked for women liberation, started living in London apartment on her own and of course, “strayed” more than what would be considered tasteful for a lady! It’s heartbreaking as well as gratifying to see her evolve from a disliked, irritating girl to a beautiful, composed and stylish woman, and above all to actually recognize and meet the intelligence she possessed.
The plot surrounds around many other lovable and memorable characters! These two by no means are comprehensive list. There is Anna, sweet Sybil, Mathew Crawley, Carson and of course Lord and Lady Grantham. If you have not watched the serial and would like to go to the movie, here is a few minute re-cap of the seasons. And whether you are a true Donwton Abbey fan or not, enhance the movie experience, pre-order the Downton Abbey: The Official Film Companion. The book will be released on September 17th, 2019. Will make a great gift for someone who is in love with the series! And how about a tea party? We found this samples of Downton Abbey tea for true Downton and English experience!
If you happen to find yourself in England, the Highclere castle is open again for tours now that the movie has been completed! You will enjoy the beautiful mansion that preserves the history! We loved our tour last year, here is the post I did about the mansion.
AND GUESS WHAT?? This is not the end!! There will be may be a sequel to the movie in works! Now when we are done watching this movie, we will be waiting for the next one!