The final episode of Downton Abbey drew an average of 8.8 million viewers in the UK alone, it has been shown in over 220 countries and is still popular around the world, therefore it was no real surprise that eventually it would head to the big screen.
I think most fans of Downton are drawn in by the romance of it, the ideal of how things used to be in perhaps a much simpler time, where the class system was paramount and everyone knew their place and seemed perfectly happy with it. I doubt in reality it was that easy and as much as I don’t mind admitting I’m a fan, I’m under no illusions the historical accuracy may be a little blurred.
I always knew there would not be much of a story to follow, even when I used to watch the TV series each week not much really happened. Sure there were a few stand out shocks and twists, but on the whole it was just easy Sunday night viewing.
This story revolves around the King and Queen coming to stay for one night during their tour of Yorkshire, they bring with them an entourage who whilst the Royals are creating a stir upstairs are creating a bit more of a stir downstairs.
The film starts with us following a letter being sent from London by train through the English Countryside, sweeping scenes of epic landscapes and music building until finally we reach and get our first glimpse of the house we know so well and the familiar theme tune begins.
There are no real introductions to characters and I guess they have taken for granted that no one will really go who hasn’t seen Downton before. Maybe the first 10 minutes is a bit rushed with the camera flying through the house just to make sure all our favourites are still either at the house or still connected in some way (luckily they are).
After hearing the news of the Royal visit, all the household really need to do is start getting ready, get the china out, polish the silver, choose the wine and decide what to cook and this is pretty much the first 2/3 of the story. We are introduced to an estranged cousin of the Crawley’s who works for the queen, a sinister gentleman who comes to stay at the village for reasons which later on become clear and a whole host of Royal staff who muscle their way in and try to take over below stairs.
The film is really enjoyable, I loved it as much as I love putting on a pair of comfortable pyjamas, more of a feature length episode of the series, not that much actually happens but for once it doesn’t matter.
It has a real conclusion to the story as well as leaving it open if we get to visit again, Maggie Smith of course stands out as the brilliant Dowager Countess, she has most of the best lines and one of the most poignant moments of the film handing the baton to her eldest granddaughter to carry on the family legacy. Maybe they were not quite brave enough to actually bump her off but it is real closure for what has been a wonderful character and a true driving force of the franchise.
If you’re a fan you must go and see it, if not then it’s obviously not for you. I tried to be unbiased and objective of how it would stand up against a classic period drama like Howard’s End or Gosford Park (it wouldn’t) but I can’t help myself it gets worthy 4 stars from me.