Saturday, 14 September 2019

Thanos in a tiara

[Click to embiggen]

From the review in Time Out:
In a cinema landscape crowded with superhero smack-downs and CG apocalypses, it’s sometimes nice just to watch a film that wants you to worry about the whereabouts of some vegetables. That film is Downton Abbey, a big old comfort blanket of a movie stitched together from vignettes involving missing paper knives, a problematic ball gown and an unfortunate outbreak of rain. It’s as nourishing as one of Mrs Patmore’s crumpets, and about as edgy...

Everyone gets their moment to shine, and Maggie Smith’s acid-tongued Dowager Countess (basically Thanos in a tiara) gets about seventeen of them. Her catty rivalry with Imelda Staunton’s similarly formidable aristocrat and her snarky asides are a highlight. Smith steals every scene she’s in, trowelling each line with ironic disdain...

This is a movie that knows what its core audience wants and provides it in spades.
Oh, yes! It certainly does...

Madam Arcati and I went to the opening night of the big screen adaptation of the series that took the world by storm (for five years until its ostensible final episode back in 2015) last night, and it was just like slipping into a comfortable pair of slippers.

Needless to say, as most reviewers have concurred, you wouldn't go to see this for its heavy, engrossing plot; nor indeed for anything unexpected, other than to wallow in the sumptuousness of it all. Which we did. The consternation and kerfuffle over the Royal visit, the machinations of the Dowager to get exactly what she wants against all comers, the wiliness of the downstairs staff, the stiff-upper-lips upstairs, a frisson of flirtings and semi-scandalous goings-on, a glittering array of frocks and tightly-buttoned toff totty, and everything coming together in the end with a sumptuous ball - what more do you want?!

Possibly the most "shocking" thing in the whole film was seeing Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) in her cami-knickers.

Imelda Staunton added a welcome bitter-and-twisted grist to the Dowager Countess's mill, the cartoon-villainy of the evil Royal Butler played by David Haig (and his supporting "henchmen") provided some hilarity, and two of our favourite "posh totty" characters played central roles, for a change...

It was all one could have wanted from a couple of hours in the cinema: a delightful escape from everything that constitutes life in the modern world. Perfection.

Facts about the movie:
  • Geraldine James, who plays Queen Mary in the film, wears a dress made using fabric that was actually worn by the real-life royal.
  • Maggie Smith's tiara is a 19th-century platinum-and-diamond number from Bentley & Skinner of Piccadilly that contains 16.5 carats of brilliant-cut diamonds.
  • Both Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Lady Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) wear original Art Deco pieces, carefully adapted and embellished for the film.

More trivia:
  • In 2010, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber made an offer to purchase Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed, apparently as a home for his art collection.
  • It’s estimated that more than 120 million people around the world have watched Downton Abbey at one point; the show was broadcast in 250 territories worldwide, and became a major hit in Russia, South Korea, and the Middle East.
  • HM The Queen is a fan, and apparently noticed on one episode that there was a young British officer wearing medals which had not yet been awarded in the period the episode was set.

Enough of all that, and on with the show...


  1. It opens here the 20th. I won't rush to see it immediately, I enjoy anticipation.
    Hoping it makes gobs of money...that way, another will get made pronto!

    1. Having seen it, I sincerely hope they don't make another. It will just smack of desperation... Jx

  2. I like how it ended in the series, so I'm hesitant to see further. Is Dame Penople Wilton not in it? And does Burrows finally get any dick?

    1. Dame Penelope was in it, of course - as you will see from the embiggened poster. The only "regulars" who were not it it were Lady Rose/Lily James [a good thing; I never thought her a good enough actress anyway] and the Dowager Countess's household: Denker the housekeeper (Sue Johnson) and Mr Spratt the butler (Jeremy Swift). Jx

  3. Oh, I can't wait to see it. I'm so pleased Maggie Smith agreed to be in it, as she originally said she wouldn't. Fab, fab, fab!

    1. I'm sure that Baron Fellowes of West Stafford was most persuasive... Jx

  4. I must admit, I haven't seen the show (well, snippets), but I might just go and see this. The frocks and the posh totty are draw enough, and then there's "Thanos in a Tiara" (I'm disappointed that it wasn't you who came up with the Dowager's new title, Jon).

    1. I wish, I wish... Jx

      PS you must try and see it; just don't expect much in the way of phasers and warp speed.

  5. All the reviews are true and I still enjoyed every second of it. Just wish I could remember more of those fab one liners.


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