There was an interesting surprise this morning. It was not any newspaper; it was no DVD or Blu-ray. It was a YouTube video (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tu3mP0c51hE), the announcement of the Downton Abbey movie coming in September. Weirdly enough, I had not felt this happy since the initial teaser of Avengers: Endgame, a movie that is now less than $100 million away from breaking the Avatar record. It is weird how a TV series with 6 seasons have had such a profound impact on viewers and I am not the only one who is amazed and happy with the coming of the movie. Hugh Bonneville, who plays the lord (aka Mr Henry Brown in both Paddington adventures), Maggie Smith, Dowager Countess of Grantham (also famous in a very well-known hotel in India), and of course the list is not complete without Jim Carter as the undoubtable Mr. Carson and some might remember him as a Transformer too.
The list is too long to go into detail and it is important to remember that. Even as the record of I, Claudius is not broken. Downton Abbey got closer to breaking that achievement than any other series ever did. When ITV started this, they had no idea how large a behemoth this would become. The foundation was given by Julian Alexander Kitchener-Fellowes, Baron Fellowes of West Stafford. And we all know that as a member of the House of Lords he would be able to spin a fine yard under the most mundane conditions. Yet Downton Abbey is anything but mundane and that is the first requirement into making a legendary piece. I have mentioned it before, I, Claudius had all the elements in place, for the most so does Downton Abbey. The story is excellent, the cast is amazing and many fans feel linked to many of the actors and actresses to a larger degree. The writing got the start, but it was the player that embodies the script and there is not one who gave less than 110% that part clearly shows in the end result. So there will be forum upon forum that will ask and speculate on what they will get. I reckon that a fair amount will go into the speculations of Robert James-Collier (Thomas Barrow) on what he will be like in the movie, antagonistic, devious or a third still to be revealed part, and let’s face it, the man ‘grew up’ on Coronation Street (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNV_Hh5ZWaE if you forgot the tune, which should be unlikely).
There is no way not to get enthusiastic on the series and now we will be getting the movie. I believe it to be an important work as it is truly the first work that would be close to thumping ‘I, Claudius’ of the throne of being the best drama in the history of TV. I personally believe that it did not achieve that, but only by a nose length. Perhaps it is because the Roman era allowed for more murder and intrigue, perhaps it is the view of lavish parties, but for the first time, it is not about the actors, each set of players was pretty much on par with the other set of players, which was an amazing achievement. As for the script, I believe that the quality of drama Robert Graves and Julian Fellowes are on par as well; the element remaining is the director, the visionary in all this. It is impossible to do this, comparing Herbert Wise to Michael Engler, Brian Percival, Catherine Morshead is unfair, it is work separated by decades of vision and technology. The fact that they all try to meet the Herbert Wise standard speaks for Mr Wise as he set the bar half a century ago and the fact that this bar is still there is slightly too amazing for words.
Yet the fact that no one ever stopped getting there speaks for those pursuing excellence in any way possible and that is what Downton Abbey also embodies, a view towards excellence and that too drives us to the movies and the mini silver screen (aka TV). I think that the end of the Victorian age and the age of George V as the UK was led from WW1 towards WW2 is often ignored, but more important than most would think, the sinking of the Titanic in the pilot, the start of WW1 and the impact of the end WW1 and the setting of the veterans as we saw its impact in Downton Abbey is an eye opener, a side that the previous generation onwards ignored is now directly reflected towards us and it impacts us and how we look at this all. A similar impact was seen with The Crown in season one when some saw the episode ‘Act of God‘, I was not born in the UK as such that episode hit me hard, I never expected such a view on chimneys, the smog it created and what kind of a health hazard it actually was in 1952, as such the way we view health hazards and the way politicians neglect it nowadays is a too little astounding.
Downton Abbey had another part shown during the episode where one hospital takes over another one, it is that part where we see the impact to the population in those years, it hits us directly as it is a real setting, not some drama, or better stated drama that doubles as reality just a little too closely. In the end you cannot have anything but the greatest respect on a part of history and how it is portrayed to us, as such the movie, even as it is about a royal visit is likely to have hidden gems that have to be seen to be enjoyed, and that is likely what the makers are hoping for. A TV series that had 11 golden globe nominees and 3 golden globes won, in 2011, Downton Abbey made the Guinness book of world records with the highest ratings for any TV show, the first time a British show got that distinction. A stage that covers 13 years of history, so as the movie is set to 1928; I wonder what we will be treated to. There is no speculation from me, I am slightly scared to be right in this case and I hope that the readers want to see the movie all the way without any spoilers, other than the ones the trailer gives us. I think that this is the biggest part of my appeal to it. On how historic events affect the characters of Downton Abbey, which historic events we will be made aware off. There were the floods of the river Thames, the Oxford English Dictionary first edition was completed, the London and North Eastern Railway’s Flying Scotsman steam-hauled express train begins to run non-stop over the 393 miles (632 km) of the East Coast Main Line from London King’s Cross to Edinburgh (on my birthday no less), the voting age for women is lowered from 30 to 21, Amsterdam hosts the Olympics and the Dangerous Drugs Act 1925 comes into effect. All events of that year and some will be mentioned; optionally we will be introduced to the discussions on it. Downton Abbey will give so many reasons to watch it and as far as I can tell (judging from the TV series) absolutely no reason not to go see it on the large silver screen (aka not the TV).
We still have 15 weeks to go before the movie makes it to the big screen, and as I see it, September 2019 can’t come soon enough.