Downton Abbey Movie Details
|Genre||Historical period drama|
|Created by||Julian Fellowes|
|Opening theme||“Did I Make the Most of Loving You?”|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||6|
|No. of episodes||52|
|Production location(s)||Highclere Castle|
|Running time||47–93 minutes|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Original release||26 September 2010 – 25 December 2015|
Alongside ‘Game of Thrones’ one of the biggest UK based TV shows of the past decade has been ‘Downton Abbey’. Despite its popularity, it’s a show which I have yet to watch a single episode. That said, I could have said the same thing about ‘Game of Thrones’ only a few months ago. I was worried that going to see the film without prior knowledge of the characters or storylines would be a major problem; however, I was able to follow well enough who everyone was and what their place was within the show.
Set in 1927, the Crawley family and their staff are in for a shock when they get a letter informing them that the king and queen are coming to stay.
There are a variety of subplots that writer Julian Fellows try to juggle throughout the film, all while the house is in a state of chaos at the prospect of the royal arrival. Personally I feel that the writing is possibly the film’s weakest element; but that’s purely down to personal feeling, as I know there are many people who will be more invested in the story than I was.
I think one of my major issues was an inability to relate to the so-called problems that many of these characters were having. For example, one of the biggest dramatic moments involves who will get to serve dinner to the king and queen. Another major subplot involves an inheritance dispute. For me, I struggled to care too much about whether or not the already rich character will get to inherit even more land. If you are already a fan of the show however, I appreciate that you might be more open to caring about these types of problems because you will be more invested in the characters.
Had I gone in with six series worth of character building and backgrounds, then perhaps I would have enjoyed this even more. As much as people have said that you don’t need to have watched the show to watch the movie, I certainly think that it would have helped.
My other issue is that it felt slightly too long. There were a couple of times where I was sure that the film was coming to an end, only for it to carry on. Given the relative unimportance of much of the plot, it did feel slightly like a TV episode stretched out with a bigger budget.
Despite these issues, as you can see, I did rate the movie 7/10, because, on the whole, I did like it. From a technical perspective, I thought the movie both looked and sounded fantastic. The production design and costume departments did a brilliant job. The interior and exterior shots were beautifully framed and lit. I’m not sure how much of the score has been taken/adapted from the TV show, but I thought the music was perfect in the way it matched the tone of the scenes.
I also thought the acting from the ensemble cast was very impressive. There are far too many people to name; but a special mention must go to Dame Maggie Smith, who absolutely stole the entire movie. Pretty much every time she opened her mouth it was fantastic. Her acerbic sassiness was delectable. I don’t know if this is the type of movie that will lend itself to Oscar nominations, but I feel like Smith could be a potential BAFTA nominee for Best Supporting Actress.
The film does try to get slightly political at times, as well as dip a toe into a couple of social issues. I think the attempt to have such issues addressed in the film is to be commended. Unfortunately, I don’t think they had enough time to fully commit to these subplots. So, although I said earlier that I felt this film was slightly too long, I also feel like in a way it was too rushed. There have already been rumors of a second movie in the works. Perhaps if this film was to receive a sequel it could delve a little further into these deeper issues as opposed to spending most of its time on relatively inconsequential plot lines.
Downton Abbey is the type of film which I think you already know whether or not you want to see. Like myself, even if you have never watched the TV show, you’ll probably have a rough idea of what the show is. I don’t mind the occasional period drama, so I was willing to give this a try. I don’t think the film goes anywhere too controversial or unexpected, but for what it was it was a pleasant enough watch. Based on this, I’m probably not in a rush to start watching the show, but it did enough to convince me to save it to my watch list.