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The return of Downton Abbey is, for many, the perfect extension to the series which stopped airing in 2015. As the infamous opening tune played on the big screen, I could not help but feel excited. As a late arrival to the Downton Abbey fandom, I became utterly obsessed within a few weeks of binge-watching, which was perfectly timed with the release of the new film.
The film served as a perfect finale to the franchise, and whether there is the possibility of the second film in the future or not, it was a well-rounded film. It resolved many loose ends left to the viewer’s imagination after the end of the series in 2015.
The film followed the characters as they await the arrival of the King and Queen of England to Downton Abbey and follow the subsequent shenanigans that inevitably occur, only adding to the humour of the film.
The film also had a renewed depth to its story; within the TV show, the characters explored social issues such as homosexuality and class and, while the same issues were explored in the film, they were so in thoughtful detail.
In 1927, when the film is set, homosexuality is still a criminal offence, which is portrayed in excruciating detail how these men were treated were they to be caught. The issue of class is also explored in relation to many of the characters and through different dynamics. The issue of inter-class relationships is something that has softened within the family throughout the show, following the marriage between a member of the family, Sybil to that of a servant, Branson. And the film ends with the possibility of another similar marriage.
A message that is repeated throughout the film is how the characters are undergoing a change and must modernise to keep up with the times, throwing the future of Downton into question as many similar estates had dissolved come 1927.
Whilst watching the film, I could not help but marvel; I could not fault the film on anything besides the fact that it felt more like an extended episode- not that there was anything wrong with that!
As always, the story and the characters oozed with glitz, glamour and sophistication embodying the typical atmosphere of the 1920s, with Lady Mary Crawley at the forefront of these social and fashion changes, particularly representing the rise and independence of women in the 1920s and the rise of the flapper girl culture.
The fundamentals of Downton Abbey remained throughout its transfer to the silver screen. As always it managed to make me cry with emotional displays between the family and fellow characters, especially when it is suggested that one of the main characters may die by the end of the film.
But for all the emotional moments in the film, of which there were several, the audience can always rely on the comical relief of Maggie Smith’s characterisation of the Dowager Countess and her devastating roasts directed towards anyone who is brave enough to disagree with her. However, after six series, I think the characters know better!