First, if I might mention, is it just me, or does the train in Downton Abbey look just like the Hogwarts Express? Coincidence? I think so.
But what is probably not a coincidence is that the opening scene in the film is a great bookend to the opening scene in the series: delivery of a telegram about the Titanic vs. delivery of a letter from Buckingham Palace.
Increased Production Value
As beautiful as it is in the series, I wondered if they would up the production value in a feature film and was pleased to see that they did. They stayed true to the series while adding sweeping aerial shots, rack focuses and gorgeous camera moves around angles and vantages we haven’t seen at the castle before. We also get a better feel for the layout of the castle itself. One example being my discovery that the dining room is just camera right of the main staircase. Maybe we saw that before but, if we did, I didn’t notice. Another example is what should be a signature establishing shot of the Castle at the closing scene. Again, a vantage we hadn’t seen before.
Did we all catch the clever line thrown in to excuse whatever reason Matthew Goode presumably had only a limited availability, as he was very late in appearing? I would imagine he was simply unavailable for the lion’s share of filming due to other work. They honestly did remarkably well to get everyone else available simultaneously, which I would think a testament to the priority the whole cast put in this reunion. Kudos to them.
I also loved seeing Carson gardening in a shirt, tie and waistcoat. Although, for Carson, that is casually-dressed to a nearly scandalous degree. Practically nude, by Carson standards.
The Wisdom of Maggie Smith
And, hey, we learned valuable new lessons on life in this movie. For example, we find out from Maggie Smith that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. Well, that kind of puts me in my place, doesn’t it? I’ve been schooled. So, no more sarcasm for me… Did we catch the sarcasm in that comment? Ha!
I don’t know if this is merely coincidence but- and especially since it relates to the 80’s- I’m going to mention it and assume it was intentional. Did we all notice that the brutally charming and handsome stranger in the film is a plumber by the name of Tony Sellick? Minor spelling fluctuation aside, I couldn’t help thinking of a tip of the hat to the #1 brutally charming and handsome stranger of the 80’s,’ Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, even as the current incarnate of Magnum P.I. begins its second season. What do we think? Coincidence or homage?
I also definitely got a kick out of seeing a roomful of men dancing to post-ragtime jazz at an underground gay bar. Now, that’s something we didn’t see in the series. I mean, imagine! Post-ragtime jazz making an appearance in the series? I mean, really!
Oh! Another killer production value shot giving us a new and unique vantage of the castle. We have an interesting night shot from what appears to be a part of the village, with the castle looming like a giant in the immediate background. It is at once both gorgeous and almost terrifying in its stature and medieval grandeur. That was an incredible shot, which also shows the village being much closer to the castle than I imagined.
A Little Sadness
Now for a little turn. How sad and ominous to hear the Dowager talking about her impending and looming death as, at 85, we could easily transfer that speech to Maggie Smith herself. One can’t help but consider what a sad world it will be- in probably the not-too-distant future- when we all occupy a world without Maggie Smith. Too gloomy a picture to even consider.
I presume the reason for this exchange is that Dame Smith will not participate in the second film? The only good news there is if, indeed, this does signal that there WILL be a second film. We can only hope.
Bottom line: I should either be living at Hogwarts or Highclere Castle, as Downton Abbey. Either one. But definitely one or the other.
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