Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Life After Downton Abbey

"Lady Mary" who bears an great resemblance to my late sister

Enough of politics for the moment!  The husband and I are huge fans of Downton Abbey, the Masterpiece Theater series that ended earlier this year.  In fact, one of the items being debated is whether we do another trip to Paris (one of our wealthy widow travel mates from the 2015 trip wants to go back) or, instead go to Great Britain and see London and, of course, make a pilgrimage to Highclere Castle, where much of Downton Abbey was filmed.  The verdict is still out, but my vote s for Great Britain since the husband has never been.  Both our widowed friend and I have been - I traveled to London in my in-house counsel days and stayed at hotels where we'd never think to stay. But I digress from the subject of this post, a piece in Vanity Fair where Downton creator, Julian Fellowes has kindly looked into his Downton Abbey crystal ball and offered fans a glimpse into several characters’ futures.  Here are highlights:
This past March, Downton Abbey ended its television run with the Love Actually of series finales—a joyously light-hearted affair for most characters involved, especially the long-tortured Lady Edith, who closed out the show by finally locking down a man, a better title than her sister, and a cushy career. (Respect.) Since the finale aired, there have been rumors that the ensemble cast might re-unite for a big-screen spin-off. (God knows at least one butler would welcome the work.) But in the event that a spin-off film never happens, series creator Julian Fellowes has kindly looked into his Downton Abbey crystal ball and offered fans a glimpse into several characters’ futures.
Charitably, Fellowes shares the fate of Lady Mary, the snooty protagonist who closed out the series with a shock twist: she has a heart. The character demonstrated as much by re-uniting Lady Edith with Bertie, and then actually refraining from plundering their wedding day with news that she is expecting a second child. Well, in an interview with Deadline, Fellowes forecasts that Mary’s business acumen will help keep the Crawley estate afloat, now that she’s taken over the business reins from her bumbling father.
“My own belief is that Mary, whether you like her or dislike her, is a hard worker, and she’s practical,” Fellowes explains. “I think she will employ the kind of advice that she needs [to manage the estate]. She would probably have opened the house to the public in the 1960s, as so many of them did, and she’d have retreated to a wing, and maybe only occupied the whole house during the winters.” (Coincidentally, this is the same strategy Nicholas Ashley-Cooper, the son of the Earl of Shaftesbury, used to save his family’s estate—a story chronicled in a recent issue of Vanity Fair.)
As for the rest of the family and staff—Fellowes does not think they strayed far, and that future generations would still be inhabiting the same Yorkshire pile.
“My own belief is the Crawleys would still be there [in Downton Abbey], just as the Carnarvons are today [in the real Highclere Castle, where Downton was filmed],” says Fellowes. “George [Mary’s son] would have gone to the Second World War, and of course the fear is that he would be killed. We know that Mary is pregnant, so there’s going to be another child. As for the title, I don’t know where it would go beyond George, but let’s hope he gets through the war and has children of his own.”
Although Fellowes does not offer the fates of the other characters, he does offer up another great trivia note by revealing the inspiration behind Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess.
“One thing I very much enjoyed about Violet was that I had, in creating her, touched on an iconic figure of British families,” explains Fellowes. “There was a whole generation of women like Violet. My theory is that, when the men went off to war, the women had to keep the show on the road back home, and they did. As a result, during the 50s, 60s and 70s, there were these incredibly frightening matriarchs in all sorts of family situations, that everyone was half terrified of and half loved.”
“I modeled her on my grandfather’s older sister,” Fellowes continues. “And the thing about those women is that they were as tough on themselves as they were on everyone else, which is why you forgave them. They weren’t selfish in that way; they just had these incredibly high standards that everyone had to meet.”
Fellowes has previously said that he is keeping his fingers crossed for a film spin-off, so that audiences can re-unite with their beloved characters.
“I hope there will be a film,” Fellowes told IndieWire several months back. “I’d structure a narrative with lots of things happening, but we would need a kind of unity to make a feature, which is a challenge for me. 
There was much to like about the series and, as a British and Russian history major, I loved the historical detail that showed the societal transition from 1912 to 1926.  World War I set in motion so much more than just the crumbling of empires- i.e., Russian, Austro-Hungary, Ottoman - and monarchies.  Society went through its own revolution and made a stark change from the 19th century Edwardian society. 

1 comment:

Rob L said...

I am up for London or Paris!