Downton Abbey

September 30, 2019

I never watched Downton Abbey the TV show. Just never got around to it and then it was too much to catch up on. But I was persuaded to see the movie when I heard that King George V and Queen Mary make appearances. I have a proprietary interest in them, you see — George himself appeared in one of my Harry and Marlowe stories. He is, of course, Harry/Maud’s brother.

The movie definitely came across as fan service for the most devoted viewers, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a beautiful film, if you like historic English countryside stuff, which I do. And because I’m me, here’s a bit of literary analysis for you:

I am intrigued at the idea of Tom Branson as a liminal character, occupying many opposing identities at once — high and low born, Irish and English, and so on. This is the Irish son-in-law, who married well above his station, was widowed, and now moves between all levels of society with ease, negotiates strange political situations, and generally remains unflustered through it all.  I think this makes him something of an audience surrogate:  he can be part of this highly stratified, socially rigid world, while also criticizing it. Like a modern audience he can enjoy it, while also being aware that it’s archaic and probably much lovelier in fiction than it ever was in reality.

He’s also very much the hero of the story without being the obvious Hero, if that makes sense. Like, the story clearly isn’t about him, it’s about the family, the staff, that dynamic, and so forth. But he saves multiple people in multiple ways over the course of things.  He’s the one person we can all unambiguously admire.

It’s a really fascinating dynamic.

 

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One Response to “Downton Abbey”

  1. howardbrazee Says:

    I subscribed to Lightspeed a few months ago for the sole purpose of getting a Harry and Marlowe story. It was worth it for that alone.


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