Back in 2011 and when my daughters were still too young to do so on their own, I wound up taking them to the last movie in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
It was, to say the least, an interesting experience.
Because I read none of the Harry Potter books nor had seen any of the previous Harry Potter movies. I wasn’t completely ignorant of the phenomenon that was Harry Potter -indeed, you’d have to have lived in a cave to that point not to be!- but the reality was that I knew next to nothing of the Harry Potter storyline other than the three main characters and that they were in some kind of sorcery school.
So, going to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the concluding chapter of a long series of novels and their movie adaptations, and going into it as cold -information-wise- as I was, was a… odd… experience.
I didn’t know who most of the characters were and didn’t know what they were up to and just kinda let it all wash over me. By the end of the film, it was like I had walked in on something that was reasonably entertaining but which I was hopelessly out of my element about.
Fast forward to yesterday and I tell my wife, a BIG fan of the TV series Downton Abbey, that I was willing to accompany her to the movie version which was just released this past Friday.
And, like Harry Potter, I was going into this pretty cold. Again, I knew some of the main characters in the series, but going into the film version I knew I’d be hopelessly lost with many of the character arcs and occurrences.
But, hey, my wife was dying to see the film and I was absolutely willing to take her to see it.
Like with HPATDH2, I found myself reasonably entertained with what I saw even if I was certain I missed plenty of nuance with regard to the many characters presented.
As a writer, I have to admire Downton Abbey’s screenwriter Julian Fellows for giving viewers so much material, so many different stories, without it getting too mushy and confusing.
If there is one thing I would criticize about the writing, however, is that there is a certain convenience to the way all these disparate storylines are resolved. Further, the movie presented a decidedly bucolic vision of post WWI England. While the movie did address at least one unpleasant aspect of those times -the way homosexuality is dealt with- it nonetheless was done/resolved in a quick manner.
But these are minor quibbles. Considering we are dealing with a two hour film that has enough plot to perhaps have given us an entire season of Downton Abbey, one has to admire the craftsmanship of this period piece along with the bits of wit/humor strewn throughout.
Yeah, I know I didn’t get it all and I know I missed on plenty of things and fans of the show probably would have plenty of reactions I, as a newbie, couldn’t, but if you’re a fan of the show seeing Downton Abbey, the movie, is a no-brainer.
If you’re not a fan and/or don’t know much about it, maybe you should check out the series first.
You’ll likely get much more out of it.