Downton Abbey has returned with a second film, and it is every bit as warm and as lovely as the first. Called Downton Abbey – A New Era, it follows the Crawley family and their staff as they enter the 1930s. As with many aristocratic families of the time, the cost of the upkeep of Downton means they have to look for inventive ways to make money, in this case allowing their home to be used as a film set for a silent movie, a movie that soon becomes a talkie thanks to the coming of sound. As this is taking place at Downton, a second story involving a house in France that has been left to the Dowager Lady Violet, leads to Lord Grantham and others taking a trip to France (cue the brilliant Carson talking very slowly and loud).
The beauty of Downton Abbey is that it is sheer escapism. Nothing much happens, but it is so lovely to look at, and is so witty to listen to, that it doesn’t really matter. For anyone with a love of style, the dresses, particularly in this film the ones worn by Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and film actress Myrna Dalgleish (Laura Haddock – beautiful and hilarious) are just stunning, with Myrna in cool blue as an ice cream blonde.
One of the features of the new film which adds another layer of glamour is the silent/talkie movie connection. Anyone who has seen ‘Singin in the Rain’ will recognise the loving tribute to this movie, with Myrna’s Cockney accent being a nod to Lina Lamont broad Brooklyn accent, and the need for another voice to be used to fit the image of a beautiful aristocrat on screen. I loved this nod to the golden age of Hollywood, it added real humour to the film, and with the addition of Dominic West as a Ronald Colman type, you get a really satisfying story that does bring Downton right into the 1930s.
Downton is as frothy and glamourous as ever. It starts with a wedding, and ends with a birth, but there are also tears along the way, and a farewell to a much loved character. Here’s hoping for a Downton Abbey 3 heading through the difficult 1930s.