CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Dan Carrier’s movie news: Downton Abbey

12 September, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

Jim Carter at the butler Charles Carson

The 1920s and 1930s is a fascinating period for the social scientist, acting as a crucible for political ideologies to play out and society becoming a laboratory for the science of governance and political philosophy.

It is why we have had so many great, angsty novels, plays and films from both the period proper and from writers looking back at the time between the wars that reflect the true spirit of the age.

Acting as a bridge between the modern world and Victorian, Imperial Britain, it is no surprise that audiences are still in thrall to it all – and that Julian Fellowes’ smash-hit TV series Downton Abbey, which presents a Wodehousian, sanitised take on the era, has finally made it to the big screen.

Taking place just a year after the General Strike – though of course there is no nod to events outside the hermetically sealed world of the upper classes – this costume drama focuses on the tizzy the Abbey crew get into when they are told King George V and Queen Mary will be popping in to their Yorkshire outpost for a night, so could they get the silver polished, pronto?

That’s about it. But it would be churlish to dismiss a film for not being in any way true to life nor radical when it has a cast that includes Jim Carter, Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton and a host of others.

They project a fantasy of British culture, but one that sells: let’s send this film around the world to help with the post-Brexit balance of payments crisis we face.

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