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The Making of Downton Abbey: a journal blog

Dear friends and readers,

This is going to be written as a journal. For today my purpose is to share this still of Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton:



My DVD of Downton Abbey from the BBC (first season) arrived a week ago now (the British version, nothing cut) and I watched the features two nights ago. 

The one about the house is revealing: it's really more about the Countess of Carnarvon, her view of the house -- she let all this happen on her estate. I will blog about this feature second.

First The Making of the mini-series.  Not a whole truths, but partial ones:  Gareth Neame's commentary on why he agreed to Fellowes's conception after seeing Gosford Park: Neame was interested in the aspect of the house as a workplace that feature hierarchies - he says this hard upon a replay of a meal downstairs. Not the whole story.

It featured the actors talking in interwoven brief interviews: all in pairs, so you could see which character was seen as a counterpart to the other (up and down, as Carson and Grantham; Mrs Hughes and Cora, Lady Grantham; Lady Mary and Anna, Matthew Crawley and Thomas -- in their costumes) or were conceived as parallels (Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton in their own clothes) or buddies (Mrs Patmore and Daisy) or alone (Lady Sybil; William was unexpected paired but I cannot remember who). It was all reassurance again. The deleted scenes are gripping emotional kinds, much more Edith (!) was originally intended (interested me as she was given a second star billing).

I also noticed from listening and watching this feature and its exemplary bits of film comparing it say to any British mini-series or 2 hour film which is made from novels, say one I watched last night, the 1989 BBC Christopher Menuel and Maggie Wadey Precious Bane (or any other made from novels), how much more leisurely (even if crowded by the brevity & rapidity of the typically short length scenes individually nowadays) it is than a film made _to_ a book. There are all sorts of little dialogues, gestures, interactions that have nothing to do with story but are there as reflections of life, humanity, comments: that's part of its attraction.

Julian Fellowes is such a fatuous type,:and we see how he was aided, controlled, and his stuff shaped by directors, producers, costume and production designers.

Well first up of the pairs were the Dames, Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton's dialogue following a replay of their first encounter in Downton Abbey as Mrs Crawley and Lady Grantham.  Smith and Wilton kibbutz one another playfully about how they manage when the script is not all it could be ...  I do love these actresses.  Did I tell you gentle reader about my Call for Papers at the next EC/ASECS:

R-e-s-p-e-c-t

They are both dressed in sport-y outfits and filmed in the Highclere library.

I'll be back with more on this and on each interview over the next week as time permits and impulse prompts.

Sylvia

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