Downton Abbey Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

UK, 1927 Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville), 7th Earl of Grantham, learns that his Downton Abbey castle in Yorkshire will be honored with a visit by royalty – King George V (Simon Jones) and his wife Queen Mary (Geraldine James). Robert and his wife – American Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), Countess of Grantham – are very excited about this circumstance.

Also, of course, numerous servants of the Crowley family, led by the butler, young man Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier), who replaced Mr. Carson (Jim Carter), who had health problems, were worried about the upcoming visit.

Robert’s daughter Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) oversees the preparations for the visit of the royal couple, and she concludes that Mr. Barrow is not up to the big responsibility entrusted to him, so Mary asks Mr. Carson to take over as butler for a while.

The Dowager Countess Violet Crowley (Maggie Smith), Robert’s Reverend Mother, learns that their relative Maud Bagshaw (Imelda Staunton) will visit Downton Abbey with the Queen: Maud is the Queen’s lady-in-waiting. Robert is Maud’s heir because she has no children, but Mrs. Bagshaw has announced that she will leave her entire fortune, as well as the estate, to her maid Lucy (Tuppence Middleton).

On the occasion of the arrival of the king and queen, a military parade will be held in Yorkshire, which should be led by George V. At the same time, a certain Major Chetwood (Stephen Campbell Moore) arrives in the city. He is Irish by origin, hates the British royal court and is planning an assassination attempt on the king. To get closer to the royal family, Chetwood tries to befriend Tom Branson (Allen Leach), Sir Robert’s brother-in-law. Tom is also Irish.


Downton Abbey ran for six seasons and enjoyed great popularity (he became the leader in the number of nominations for “Emmy” among non-American TV shows in the history of this award).

Two years after the show of the final sixth season, it was announced that a feature-length film “Downton Abbey” would be shot, which would become, as it were, a continuation of the series.

I watched the series, but not the whole thing. I liked the first season very much, I watched it with great pleasure. I liked the second season much less, but I also watched it. But in the third season, I abandoned this series: I got tired and, in my opinion, they lowered the bar a lot.

My wife lasted a season longer than me and then left too: she said that the series had degenerated into some kind of sugary production for schoolgirls (with all due respect to the tastes of schoolgirls).

Of course, the feature film was made primarily for those who watched the series. And I don’t think that it makes sense to watch it for those who have not seen the series, because for them there will be some incomprehensible people in the picture, connected by incomprehensible relationships. And only for those who watched the series, everything will be clear with the characters, and the picture will be perceived by them as a continuation of the series.

With this film, it turned out that he is the continuer of the style of the last seasons of the series, and not the first. Costume melodrama, rather primitive (sometimes up to the utter amazement of the audience) plot moves, very sluggish intrigue, not too bright characters (with rare exceptions).

The first fifty minutes of the movie were so boring that, to be honest, I was about to quit watching this case. Especially when the plot with an attempt to assassinate the king was played – it was so stupid and ridiculous that I didn’t even know how to react to such a thing.

Then, however, the butting of the Downton Abbey servants with the royal servants began – and there it became at least somehow interesting and sometimes funny. As a result, I watched it to the end and made sure that the creators of the full-length picture did not deviate one iota from the original goal of making a production of “love in a rich house with a good ending”, so there will be no drama or anything action-packed, but it will end a picture of universal fraternization and all kinds of grace.

There are not so many interesting characters in the picture. Grandma Violet is still on fire (a brilliant role by Maggie Smith), but not at all like in the first seasons. There she burned with napalm, but here she just makes sarcastic remarks. And she didn’t manage to fight properly with Maud: all the intrigue was quickly leaked, and it’s no longer interesting to look at the thriving Violet.

The owners of “Downton Abbey” Robert and Cora are here almost exclusively for furniture: everyone is somehow on the back, they take very little part in the action. Here, their daughter Lady Mary is quite active in the events described, and there a lot of things fall on her, including loading chairs into a truck in the pouring rain, but most of all Mary thinks about the fact that it’s time, in fact, to transfer this castle to the state, and to settle in an ordinary small house, where you can not keep three dozen servants, but get by with the bare minimum – three to five. However, both Grandmother Violet and Lady Mary’s parents strongly condemn such outrageous thoughts.

Much of the screen time is devoted to the rogue Tom Branson. Yes, yes, it’s a swindler, although he mows down under such a simple and handsome guy. It was mentioned in the picture that Tom was an ordinary chauffeur, but managed to hook up another daughter of Crowley – Sybil. Sybil died (I haven’t watched the series until this moment), and Tom now lives in the family as a son-in-law, and you can clearly see how he is not a person of this circle. But we don’t have to worry about old Tommy – this guy quickly began to hammer wedges on the maid Lucy, who will soon inherit both a large fortune and an estate. Tom has always been good at getting things done.

Thomas Barrow’s line and his homosexual research, to be honest, irritated me to no end. And not at all by the fact of his sexual orientation – that’s just what I don’t give a damn about – but by the way it was all filmed. Well, the Blue Oyster bar became the apotheosis here, only in the British version of the first third of the last century – in my opinion, it all looked very ridiculous, like Barrow’s love interests, which flared up in it almost instantly in relation to the first counter-cross, in which Thomas defined “his” using “gay radar”. A very strange line that seemed completely superfluous to me.

Something more or less noteworthy happened mostly among the servants. The head cook Mrs. Patmore (Leslie Nichol) was still good, her assistant, young Daisy Mason (Sophie McShera), a progressive girl, an anti-royalist, looked great with her. By the way, Sophie played well in “Galavant” – a friend of a cool cook.

The pompous and arrogant royal valet Mr. Wilson (the role of David Haig), who built the local servants, was very good, I liked it. As well as the French chef who was supposed to prepare the table for the royal family – Mrs. Patmore was not entrusted with this high honor.

And there, as I already said, there was at least something amusing in the butting of the servants of the castle with the visiting royal servants, it noticeably brightened up the viewing for me.

But in general, very, very mediocre. Moreover, I watched the series, that is, I understood what was at stake, but all this was done, in my opinion, rather primitively and superficially.

In the process of watching, I recalled several times the wonderful film by Robert Altman “Gosford Park”, where the same Maggie Smith played. (Actually, the series “Downton Abbey” was originally conceived as a spin-off of “Gosford Park”, but then the screenwriter Julian Fellows decided to make a separate story after all.) There really is a powerful drama there. It’s more like vaudeville here. A melodrama in a rich house with a good ending, that’s our whole tale to you.


Downton Abbey movie meaning

Director: Michael Engler Cast: Michelle Dockery, Matthew Goode, Geraldine James, Tuppence Middleton, Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton, Elizabeth McGovern, Kate Phillips, Joanne Froggatt, Mark Addy, Allen Leach, Laura Carmichael, Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Penelope Wilton, David Haig, Leslie Nicol, Simon Jones, Robert James-Collier, Sophie McShera, Stephen Campbell Moore

Worldwide gross: $191 million
Melodrama, UK-USA, 2019, 122 min.

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