How realistic is Downton Abbey

After the series success : "Downton Abbey" fails at the cinema

Lord Grantham is a pillar of society. From the fortunate circumstance of being the heir to a “great house” in Yorkshire, he derives the responsibility not only to look after one's own well-being, but above all those who live and work on his property. The author Julian Fellowes, himself a member of the English aristocracy, has created a character with whom viewers of the television series "Downton Abbey" can easily identify. Although hardly any of them belong to the upper class.

The Lord, played nobly by Hugh Bonneville, is so personable because he wants to avoid changes in his usual rhythm of life. Like every ordinary citizen. He sees that he has to open up to the new, the innovative, so that he can receive what is dear to him: the familiar, the traditional. But he needs a push from outside that nudges him roughly towards the future.

"Downton Abbey" begins with the sinking of the "Titanic", in which Lord Grantham's successor is killed. According to the complicated rules of succession, an unknown, distant relative moves up - who is also a commoner! Matthew, a doctor's son from Manchester, forced a change in the lifestyle of the noble family with his outside view, converts agriculture according to capitalist principles so that the proud property can defy the turbulent times of the early 20th century, while all around the well-born, fixated on the past Families lose their possessions.

Longing for yesterday

The six seasons of "Downton Abbey" serve a longing for the supposedly good yesterday. But the Fellowes script does not only focus on the visual value of the noble interiors and elegant costumes. The series is more than a historical ham: It is a society panorama that not only shows the love and suffering of the gentlemen, but also the reality of their employees.

“Upstairs, downstairs” was the model for this edutainment genre in the early 1970s, known and loved in Germany as “Das Haus am Eton Place”. What happens upstairs in the salons is as important as what is said and thought down in the servants' wing.

If you visit the location of the series today, Highclere Castle in the county of Hampshire, you will find everything just as it is on the screen: the spacious park with the Lebanon cedar, the temple adorned with columns, even the wildflower meadow, the magnificently furnished lounges in a castle, the core of which actually is was once a monastery, an abbey, and which the 19th century architect of the London Parliament rebuilt into a neo-renaissance dream.

The rooms of the servants, however, were recreated in the studio, the room in which the butler Carson decanted fine wines with ceremonial seriousness through a sheet before dinner, the lounge of the domestics, in which the bells on the big bell ring constantly ringing because the rule is helping when getting dressed or pouring tea, needs the kitchen, in which it is hotly boiled as it is politically discussed.

From the series to the tourist attraction

For the Earl of Carnavon, the owner of Highclere Castle, the TV series was a godsend. Since then, tourists have financed the maintenance of the venerable walls, which amount to a million pounds per year. In a 2013 documentary about Highclere Castle on the Netflix streaming service, today's butler says, while meticulously setting the dinner table according to centuries-old rules: “We absolutely have to uphold the standards. Once they're gone, they'll never come back. "

This is exactly how his fictional alter ego speaks in "Downton Abbey". As Mr Carson, Jim Carter is even more loyal to the king, more obsessed with tradition and more label-fixated than his employer - and at least as distinguished. In general, the series draws considerable charm from the absurd fact that parts of the Servants are more attached to the anachronistic fuss of the aristocratic lifestyle than the nobles themselves, while others are inflamed by the ideals of socialism, including a daughter of Lord Grantham, who eventually even marries the chauffeur.

What her grandmother absolutely does not want to understand. Maggie Smith plays this Countess Violet with ravishing snootiness, who regards class differences as god-given and considers it to be a decay of morals when the gentlemen come to dinner in tuxedos instead of tails. Because of course these nobles are snobs, trapped in a cocoon of convention and elitist upbringing. The contradictions of all the characters, however, the loving and differentiated drawing of the characters is what defines the quality of "Downton Abbey".

A majority of storylines in the film

All of this is now completely absent from the movie for the series. Because the creators couldn't decide whether they just want to serve the fans who have been waiting for a sequel for four years. Or whether they should appeal to all those who are not yet familiar with the complex cosmos of the Grantham dynasty.

Julian Fellowes was solely responsible for the TV series. Too many cooks definitely spoiled the broth in the cinema production. The overwhelming number of storylines means that every single aspect can only be touched on, the characters remain stereotyped.

The dialogues remain uninspired

The focus of the plot is a visit by King George V to Downton in 1927, whereby the coexistence of the social classes takes a back seat, in favor of an inconsequential squabble between the royal lackeys, who rode into the province like invaders, to the visit of the To prepare the king and the sidelined local servants who want to defend the honor of their house.

A planned assassination attempt on the monarch, the outing of the gay servant Thomas, the illegitimate daughter of a lady-in-waiting and a king's daughter as "desperate housewife", a parade and a ball as eye powder - all of that had to be included. To make matters worse, the otherwise brilliant dialogues seem largely uninspired.

Lady Mary has the biggest laugh when she squints in the sun on the morning of the royal visit after it had rained cats and dogs the night before and says: "God must be a monarchist." If nothing more in a conversation if you even know that as a bourgeoisie, the only last resort is a chat about the weather.

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