Downton Abbey (2019)

Film Title

Downton Abbey (2019)

Synopsis

The story of the Crawley family in the early 20th Century in England

Director

Michael Engler

Cast

Matthew Goode
Tuppance Middleton
Maggie Smith
Michael Dockery
Elizabeth McGovern
Kate Phillips
Allen Leech
Laura Carmichael

The Triumph of the Servant’s Hall

It begins with news of a royal visit and ends with a waltz. In between you see romance, duty, honor, intrigue, respect for tradition and hope for the future. You hear that rarity in today’s movies, literate dialogue.

It is a joy to watch. The cinematography has natural look that is nonetheless beautiful to see. In the television series the lighting was flooded out, but here it appears as it might if you were actually there. The production represents the highest aspects of the British Empire. The great estates and the manor houses, the paintings and furnishing and the elegant and well dressed aristocratic women all testify to the old notion that God is an Englishman. (Some estates bring to mind Brideshead Castle, Castle Howard, the home of the Marchmain’s in Brideshead’s Revisited. Downton Abbey is surrounded by “the atmosphere of a better age”.)

The Yorkshire Hussars put in an appearance in their parade ground finest.

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I need not introduce the characters and actors to fans of the series. If you are not already know them, this film is likely not for you.

Downton’s service staff are the true heroes of the story, keeping the great house running and staging a counter coup after being pushed aside by the Imperial servants.

The time is set as just after the end of the General Strike of 1926, which make it 1927. The post arrives with news King George and Queen Mary will be spending the night at Downton and reviewing the Yeoman Yorkshire Hussars the following day. Not only is the Crawley family honored, but the servants and whole community are giddy with delight. The King Emperor and his Queen have chosen their little piece of the empire!

The snooty palace servants arrive and push the Downton staff out of the way. Only they service the royals, it seems. How rude. A mysterious ex-army major arrives. Special Branch? There to keep an eye on the Irish Republican Crawley son-in-law? A romantic interest is introduced for him. There is a minor subplot involving a Crawley cousin and an inheritance. In fact, there are subplots for most of the players, enough in two hours for entire television season. All resolved, or to be continued…

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Maggie Smith, Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, is her witty Machiavellian self. The Machiavellian Anna Bates, Lady Mary’s maid, organizes the staff to seize service from the palace interlopers and serve the royals as is their due.

There will always be an England.

Even after one hundred and twenty-two minutes you are sorry when it ends. Well, there is always the DVD.

About John Welsh

When I was young, cinema was my religion and the theater was my church. No matter how bad new releases may appear, my faith endures. I have worked in movie post-production, production, as a story analyst, property master, script supervisor; just about anything that is required in low budget, nonUnion films.