Thursday, December 30, 2010

Downton Abbey Costume Drama

I have just finished watching a new ITV Costume drama series, "Downton Abbey", that will be shown on PBS in 2011, written by Julian Fellows, scribe of "Gosford Park", one of my favorite films of all time. "Downton Abbey" concerns the aristocratic Crawley family in Northern England during the years 1912-1914, on the eve of The Great War. My internet sleuthing has allowed me to preview these episodes before they arrive here, and I can't wait for the second series to begin - next year! Filmed at the stunning Highclere Castle, The cast includes the usual suspects, Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter (Mr. Imelda Staunton), Phyllis Logan, Brendan Coyle (from "North & South") and a host of others you may recognize from other favorite dramas. The brilliant Brian Percival, who directed "North & South", another fine drama, helms 3 episodes. It will be captivating entertainment to warm the long winter months ahead.

Julian Fellows, an inspiration to late bloomers everywhere, won a first Oscar for "Gosford Park" at age 52. He seems to be making up for lost time (he was an actor for many years) by creating a cottage industry for himself writing about aristocratic England, with novels, screenplays and TV series. This new series is wonderfully penned and directed, and if you can't wait to see it, you can pre-order it at Amazon. I know I did! By the way, you must own a copy of "Gosford Park" on DVD; Fellowes provides what is possibly the best narrated commentary ever!

Check out The Enchanted Serenity of Period Films for a look at the costumes. This is a wonderful site - please bookmark it!

There is another fantastic website called Recycled Movie Costumes, where, helped by sharp-eyed costume-watching contributors, you can spot recycled period costumes from drama to drama. There are never enough rentable costumes available, even in the UK where 19th and early 20th century dramas are a major industry, and smaller budgets every year for the building of new frocks, so recycling has become an art unto itself. This link takes you to a page devoted to "Downton Abbey". I hope that you have some time to spend here - you'll need it, as it's fascinating.

Here's an article about recycled costumes at the Daily Mail that's a fun read.

Photos taken from "Enchanted Serenity of Period Films", from promotional material from ITV. DOWNTON ABBEY debuts on PBS on Sunday, January 9. Check the PBS website for scheduling in your area.

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