From award-winning writer Julian Fellowes comes the event film Downton Abbey II: A New Era.
This is the highly anticipated cinematic return of the global phenomenon born on TV and now translated to cinema with two feature films. This second chapter, in Italian cinemas thanks to Universal Pictures , brings together the beloved cast on a great journey to the south of France, to discover the mystery of the villa just inherited from the Countess Mother of Grantham .
The film is directed by Simon Curtis and written by veteran and series co-writer Julian Fellowes. The rich cast includes, among others, Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery, Kevin Doyle, Joanne Froggatt, Harry Hadden-Paton, Robert James-Collier, Allen Leech, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern, Sophie McShera, Tuppence Middleton, Lesley Nicol, Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton and Penelope Wilton.
And in fact, beyond the atmosphere, the captivating characters and the amazingly skilled performers, it must be said that the locations of the saga have strongly contributed to its appeal to the public. Let’s find out what they are and what makes them special, in the words of the authors and the cast.
DOWNTON ABBEY: The fascination of immortal locations
As we anticipated yesterday , Downton Abbey has become a phenomenon of custom – not only at home – capable of pushing tourism in the areas where it was filmed or similar areas, full of castles and historic residences. The series is behind the £ 22 billion increase in the tourism sector at the beginning of the last decade.
Reports the Sun , December 2014: “ The success of the ITV series is bringing in thousands of high-end tourists from China, Japan and the United States. Many booked their trips to England in 2015 after falling in love with the costume series set in the early 20th century. “While the Mail Online adds:
“In the UK, almost one in three tourists visit a historic residence or castle, thanks in part to the success of the films about the young wizard and that of the famous costume series. According to data from the tourism marketing agency VisitBritain, these tourists spend a total of around £ 6 billion during their stay in the country. ”
One of the most important characters in the script was the house itself and although they visited Highclere Castle first, producer Gareth Neame , author Julian Fellowes and the production team spent six months visiting many different houses and returning in the end. at Highclere. With its 1,000 acres of land, designed by Capability Brown , the Castle is the perfect setting for Downton Abbey.
Finding the protagonist environment of the series was a funny journey because from day one Julian said that the house he had in mind was Highclere. When the
series got the green light I went to take a look around. It initially felt wrong to check the ‘home’ box right away without looking into other options because it was a key factor in the series and arguably the single most important character. One of the reasons we returned to Highclere was that our production designer [Donal Woods, ed] noted that the series was set in Edwardian England and many historical period period films of the last few years tended to be set in Georgian buildings. The gothic aspect of Highclere made it very different from other costume films and we were happy to do something new and to make our show stand out.
Julian Fellowes’ passion for grand mansions is well documented and for him choosing Highclere Castle as the location for Downton Abbey was easy. In any case, with a huge choral cast, supporting artists and a troupe of more than 100 members it was important from a logistical point of view that the house was accessible:
I love Highclere and I wanted Gosford to be in Highclere. But Bob Altman really wanted people to sleep in their beds so we had to move closer to London to Wrotham, (another great house). To me, Highclere is a unique architectural example and tells us so much about the great confidence of the late Victorians and the
security of the High Empire. Highclere Castle is the home of the Earl and Countess of Carnavon and their family and, surrounded by a spectacular park, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful castles in England. The Carnavon ancestors have lived in Highclere since 1679. The Castle has a very nice interior especially the library which is an absolutely wonderful room. It is the typical English library and the great room is splendid.
The plan has always been to film private and public rooms on location, but unfortunately over the years the kitchens and bedrooms of large country houses have drastically changed and this has made it necessary to build servants’ quarters in the theater. , the kitchen and the bedrooms.
The point of filming in these beautiful homes is that if you were to start from scratch you would of course not be able to build them and if you did you would have to use your
entire budget for one room.
The experience of Liz Trubridge, producer
Part of the pleasure of Downton Abbey comes from where it is set, and the home is the heart of the world we have created. Highclere Castle is an icon and naturally a character in its own right, but for the first film we wanted to find a balance between returning to the familiar and at the same time offering something that was bigger and bigger.
slightly more special. We set it in late summer, early fall and were very lucky with the weather which was great for all the outdoor scenes. It felt like we lived in a Mediterranean climate. Every time we went out the sun was shining and this allowed us to use drones and have a helicopter. We had the chance to visit many breathtaking places but my favorite set of all was the one at Harewood House. It was just unbelievable. It is a truly beautiful place and the terrace has one of the most fabulous views I have ever seen.
The experience of Donal Woods, Production Designer
The most important conversation to start it all with was the house, the great character that is Downton Abbey. We’ve probably searched a hundred
houses online, across England and went to see more than forty. The first one we visited was Highclere. It was the right size, it had the right landscape around it, and it looked like Yorkshire. There were many factors related to the house, but then we had a meeting, at the end of 2009, where we all said which house we liked best and unanimously we answered Highclere, and the rest is history.
The other locations
Woods recalls that, for the first film, the production had to space to give a broader scope to the locations:
We went to Little Germany in Bradford, which we used for our York streets, police station exteriors and club exteriors. We used the Turden club which was in a warehouse in Keighley. We also went back to the Beamish Museum which is magnificent. The first time we were there it was for the car showrooms and this time we also filmed Mr Bakewell’s shop there, so I think we certainly toured the country with the aim of bringing variety to the film. I think that for a TV show you can’t make this amount of travel for just one or two scenes, but we were lucky because with the film we
were able to move a lot more to find the perfect locations.
Another characteristic location was Dalton Mills , in Yorkshire, unfortunately recently the victim of a large fire, which devastated the entire complex, originally used as a factory and then decommissioned decades ago, to then become a site for events and film sets. given its large, equipped and characteristic spaces.
The peculiarity of the new film is the presence of a new “exotic” location: a stately villa in the south of France, in Padet, in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, an enchanting region with a decidedly more Mediterranean climate than the usual landscapes of the series. The real villa chosen by the production is called Villa Rocabella , and is surrounded by a beautiful three-hectare garden. With a sea view, it is full of living rooms and habitable rooms with terrace: the eleven rooms are furnished in Napoleonic style and are perfect as a set for costume films. The Countess Mother of Grantham inherited something truly enviable, it really has to be said!