February 28, 2012

Abbey-ville

Watched another glorious "Downton Abbey" on PBS.  It's a soap opera, but so cinematic. There are scenes suggestive of another war movie/soap opera: "Gone With the Wind". Last night we watched the somber death-bed wedding of a brave soldier and an equally brave soldier of another kind, the diminutive "Daisy" who didn't want to marry him but took one for the team and seemed, in the soldier's ebbing moments, to become truly married after all.  The scarcity of the show - only three episodes remain - is easily overcome since we plan to simply start over and begin again when the second season wraps up.  I don't know how good it'll be the second time around but the visuals, acting, and feeling of being in another world make it worthy of another go-round.  There is something so pure in it, so much purer anyway than the modern novels I so often dabble in. It makes me want to read something Jane Austen-ish. 

Brad Pitt, in a taped interview on the Oscar telecast, said that part of what makes a great movie is to see people doing things you're not sure you could do, to see a certain nobility of spirit and action displayed. How true. That's part of what attracts me to "Downton Abbey".  It's a completely un-ironic show, a tonic in this ironic age, and the chivalry and bravery of the soldiers in WWI is inspiring.  Sure there are bad apples in the bunch, but they have a human side, are not caricatures. 

I can't quite put my finger on what makes the series so good other than the sterling character studies of selflessness, from the kind and good patriarch to the caring wife, to the head butler and others. And then there's Mary, thin and pale but red-blooded as Scarlet O'Hara, someone who occasionally shines translucently, fatally flawed but rising to the occasion. When she's good, she's very good - tending to the wounds of her rejected beau and tending to the physic wounds of her ex-beau's beau.  When she's bad, she's bad to an extent that you would write her off as worthy of anything but contempt.  But that would be premature.  In her and her sister Edith there's the capacity for more darkness and more light than is normally present to the naked eye.

1 comment:

William Luse said...

"It makes me want to read something Jane Austen-ish."

I don't think you can go wrong there. She comes highly recommended by none other than Peony.