After a successful run on television Julian Fellowes brought his hit show to the big screen. The problem is that Downton Abbey (2019) as a film adds very little to the mythology of Crawley family. Over the course of several seasons all of the romances between different characters have been played out, leaving minor conflicts to be invented and resolved during the film’s two hour run time. Fellowes’ new characters add something but due to the large ensemble of the cast these new arrivals get very little development.
The dramatic stakes of Downton Abbey just aren’t very high. The premise hinges upon a visit from the King Of England and very little else, leaving the film in a kind of limbo between a condensed season of episodes and a feature length Christmas special. The budget of a feature film is nowhere to be found on screen as the creators of the show rely predominantly on what has proven safe amongst the tried and true fans of the show.
The lack of content in Downton Abbey unfortunately highlights the most problematic aspects of the show. Since its inception Downton Abbey has been soft-core servitude porn. The people living “downstairs” find their lives defined by serving the Crawleys. Again and again characters deliver impassioned monologues on the virtues of being a second class citizen and servant to a family of aristocrats. How this fantasy continues to exist in a political climate dedicated to the erasure of class distinctions is beyond me.