Munich (AP) – Scarves outside and in the cinema: After six seasons of the series and a movie, “Downton Abbey” returns to the big screen. “A New Era” continues the story of the noble British Crawley family and their servants.
The year is 1928 and Countess Violet has inherited a magnificent villa in southern France from a mysterious marquise. No one knows why, and everyone is curious and trying to uncover Violetta’s secret. A fun pastime for fans and those who want to become one – and who want to immerse themselves in the magnificent world of British high class for about two hours.
They are all back, including Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham, Elizabeth McGovern as his wife Cora, Michelle Dockery as Crawley Mary’s eldest daughter, Penelope Wilton as Isobel Merton, Jim Carter as Mr. Carson’s former butler, Lesley Nicol as cook Mrs. Patmore and of course the Great Lady, Maggie Smith, as the Countess’s widow and mother of God. Imelda Staunton (Maleficent) plays Maud Bagshaw, the expectant lady whose daughter Lucy (Tuppence Middleton – Fisherman’s Friends) marries widow Tom Branson (Allen Leech).
With a lot of love for individual characters, Simon Curtis (“My Week with Marilyn”) staged the rich costume show based on the screenplay by Julian Fellowes, who wrote the series, which was honored with 15 Emmys. The first feature film of 2019 “Downton Abbey” was still steeped in countless stories. However, this time, the creators manage to cleverly intertwine the fates of famous characters.
The shooting creates chaos
A film crew has chosen Crawleys’s revered aristocratic residence as the environment and wants to pay generously for it. Money urgently needed to fix the dilapidated roof of the castle. And so the movie’s people invade Downton Abbey, including the capricious movie star Myrna Dalgleish (Laura Haddock). An exciting experience for Mary, her maid Anna and others, but a horror to the servant aware of the Carson tradition and Countess Dowager.
“Miss Dalgleish has the charm of a wart,” says Violet. She fled with some of the family in the south of France to check out their seaside villa, while the rest of the Crawleys and their servants deal with the chaos in the house.
The highlights are once again the sharp and witty tongue counting teasing, delivered dryly and masterfully by Maggie Smith. “I thought the best thing about the film was that you could not hear anything,” she says of silent films, which are increasingly being replaced by soundtracks. “It would be even better not to see anything.” Or her advice to her granddaughter Mary, to gain respect: “Let them see a dragon in you”.
Filming took place once again at Highclere Castle and its magnificent south-west London park. No less idyllic: French seaside villa, a colorful Mediterranean dream in the Mediterranean city of Toulon.
Old traditions are disappearing
But Crawleys’s wonderful life is coming to an end. Magnificent palaces with a large crowd of servants no longer fit into the modern era. Fellowes points to the ruptures that result, for example when Carson despairs that old traditions are being thrown out. And Mary and her sister Edith stand for modern women who no longer want to force themselves into tight corsets to please men, but want to live their lives actively and safely.
Big dreams and hopes for a better future – but also melancholy pervades this film, which is heading towards a very emotional finale. Violet is also extremely emotional, played brilliantly by Maggie Smith. Writer Fellowes agrees: “Maggie has a lot of talent and one of them is that she is funny one moment and makes you cry the other.”
Downton Abbey II – A New Era, UK / US 2022, 125 min., KSF from 0, by Simon Curtis, with Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton and Hugh Bonneville