Gosford Park (2001) is a English movie. Robert Altman has directed this movie. Maggie Smith,Ryan Phillippe,Michael Gambon,Kristin Scott Thomas are the starring of this movie. It was released in 2001. Gosford Park (2001) is considered one of the best Comedy,Drama,Mystery movie in India and around the world.
Set in the 1930s, the story takes place in an old-fashioned English country house where a weekend shooting party is underway. The story centers on the McCordle family, particularly the man of the house, Sir William McCordle (Sir Michael Gambon). Getting on in years, William has become a benefactor to many of his relatives and friends. As the weekend goes on, secrets are revealed, and it seems that everyone, above stairs and below, wants a piece of William and his money, but how far will they go to get it?
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Robert Altman's long, fragmented and very hit-or-miss career reaches another of his periodic highs with this clever and beautifully realised dissection of the English class system and skit on the classic Agatha Christie whonunnit. Altman's preferences for kaleidoscopic social observation has sometimes failed in the past due to the weight of its own ambition: multi-plotted and multi-charactered snapshots of time and place held together by loose ties or a general thematic framework. Sometimes it pays off spectacularly (Nashville); sometimes it flatters to deceive (Short Cuts). It works well here due to the necessary discipline of the single location and the greater opportunities for interaction among the characters this affords. Add to that an exemplary cast of (mostly) British character actors and a knowing script by Julian Fellowes that gives Altman's keenly observant camera plenty of time to make its own points. Rightly, Altman is less concerned with the murder mystery, which is almost an aside, than with the opportunity given by a shooting party at a 1930s stately mansion to observe the English aristocracy and their servants in social interaction. Never happier than when involved in a bit of human anthropology, Altman lightly dissects the complexities and hierarchies which go on both above and below stairs; in which many subtle and unsubtle rituals are played out among groups of people who clearly dislike each other but are forced through circumstance, need or employment to observe the fundamental social practices required. 1932 is also a time of intruding change into the nature of the old English ruling classes, slowly disintegrating in this between-wars period and, in this case, largely reliant on the wealth of one particularly reluctant patron to keep them in furs and flunkies. In on this act comes the (to them) faintly odious whiff of 20th century new money, represented by Hollywood and popular culture. These intruders are kept in their place, but the message is clear - change is coming, and coming fast. The muted colours and autumnal setting continue this theme of a world in terminal decline and of a group of characters keenly conscious of place and tradition yet also wearied and exhausted by it. Only at the very end, when fundamental change has occurred and many characters are left to face up to very different destinies do we see a bit of sunshine creeping in, heralding the dawn of a new era. The cast are all excellent, with special mention deserving of Maggie Smith's effortless scene stealing as a bitchy but broke old Countess; the ever reliable Jeremy Northam as matinee idol Ivor Novello, well aware of his place in the great scheme of things and young Kelly Macdonald in the pivotal role of Smith's harassed maid who's inquisitiveness rattles a whole load of family skeletons.
When Robert Altman makes a new film, it's always a noteworthy event that gets the attention of critics and audiences alike: large productions with huge ensemble casts of major Hollywood movie stars, playing real people with full, fleshed out characters, each with their own subplots that intertwine only subtly, until the end when it all finally makes sense. In Gosford Park, Altman makes only two changes to this formula: Hollywood stars are replaced by Top British talent that may be unfamiliar to most American audiences, and a straightforward murder mystery supplants his traditionally complicated plot line. It is in these changes, however, where Altman charms his audiences in a new way. The story takes place in 1932 at a gathering of aristocrats and their servants for a hunting country weekend at the estate of Sir William McCordle. Some time after all the guests are settled in and whose affairs begin to intertwine, one of them is bumped off. While all the characters are well fleshed out, it's Mary, played by Kelly Macdonald, who is the focus of the drama. She's the maid of Maggie Smith's Countess Constance of Trentham, and is being groomed to follow a path to become head servant. After the murder takes place, emotions unfold and secrets from the past are revealed that help the characters - and the audience - solve the mystery. The drama is even more punctuated when Mary's innocence and naiveté is lost as she pieces together the deeper scandal, involving servant-master sexual relations and bastard children. One of the best aspects of film is how it illustrates that fine line dividing the master-servant social structures, and how often that line is crossed, reminding us that life is just a game of costumes and masks, and we're all the same underneath. While the story was reminiscent of Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians, where it's the mystery that captivates the audience, Altman goes beyond the mystery with Gosford Park by using the murder as a vehicle to draw attention to the human condition and class hierarchy. On the downside, but to no surprise to fans of Altman's work, the movie is often hard to follow. His style of filmmaking involves entanglements of characters and subplots that don't appear to have much to do with one another at first blush, and Gosford Park takes this to the next level. Here, the murder takes place at the climax of this confusion, leaving you rather disoriented in the middle of the 2-hour-plus drama. Fortunately, the tone loosens up when a comedy-dim police inspector basically gets nowhere in his investigation, but the pieces start coming together through the other characters. The good news is that it all seems to come together in the end in a way that didn't require grasping every detail of every scene. Despite its intricacies and confusing moments, there is so much more to Gosford Park that makes it interesting and enchanting. While it is clearly a sophisticated piece of film work with impeccable acting, directing and design, don't stress about not keeping up with it all the time. Sit back and take it in, and you'll feel satisfied in the end.
Violence, mystery, sex, and murder, Gosford Park has it all. Director Robert Altman once again takes the Hollywood formula and gives a unique twist. The story begins when aristocrats during 1932 gather at Sir William McCordle's (Michael Gambon) estate for a shooting party. The guests are wealthy people with their trusty servants. People arrive at the McCordle estate two by two and the traditions begin. The servants set up dinner for their masters and the aristocrats begin their personal routines. The story moves on as the characters begin to establish their names and the audience learns their varying social status. The intertwining stories among the guests begin to surface and the audience begins to realize there is much more in this house than what meets the eye. During the night one member of the elite group is killed. None of the guests seemed to be fazed by this event and are only upset by the inconvenience it sets up for their lives. The only one troubled is Constance, Countess of Trentham's maid, Mary (Kelly McDonald). The story begins to focus on Mary, who discovers secrets among the visitors and leads the audience to solve the mystery. The great aspect about this film is Robert Altman's abilities to bring the past to life. He pays excellent attention to detail and is able to recreate the feelings and morals during the time period. He emerges the audience into a film world filled with history and story. Throughout the film Altman visually shows the audience the contrast between social classes through his various shots, lighting techniques, and camera filters. His fluid camera movements visually portray foreshadowing and relationship among characters. These elements give the audience a complete understanding of the mood and atmosphere in the film. I recommend this movie to anybody who has the patience to sit and focus on this excellent film. Although the beginning is appropriately slow moving and the characters names are difficult to remember, the payoff is worth the efforts. This movie is made for active film viewers and all Robert Altman fans.
There are directors who can direct huge, massive Cecil B. deMille epics like Peter Jackson. There are directors who have done nail-biting suspense, usually drenched in subtext, like the Director, Alfred Hitchcock. There are others who can do whatever they want and create beautiful, detached yet powerful films like Stanley Kubrick. Then there are ones who are brilliant with ensembles, telling stories which converge and often overlap within a main plot. One of them is the great Woody Allen. The other one is Robert Altman. GOSFORD PARK is an update of Jean Renoir's 1939 film LE REGLE DU JEU, in which wealthy relatives of an aristocrat come to a shooting party at a country home. Here, because of the obviously strained relationships between the host and his family has been less than amicable, it serves as a springboard where everyone's worst behavior and heretofore concealed feelings towards each other really come forth with an undertone of mean-spirited cruelty just brimming below the surface, while the servants act as non-entities when in their employers' presence but occasionally break into. Boasting one of the best introduction sequences ever, itself lengthy but necessary, GOSFORD PARK is a tour-de-force of narration that recalls Jane Austen's work. We first see Mary Maceachran (Kelly MacDonald, playing innocence that becomes a keen observer), maid to Lady Constance Trentham (Dame Maggie Smith, having a splendid time in her role), and Lady Trentham's flighty demands and annoyed conversation as they make their way to Gosford Park. They cross paths with movie actor Ivor Novello (Jeremy Northam), his agent Morris Weissman (Bob Balaban), and Weissman's protégé, Henry Denton (Ryan Phillippe), who is the only one who doesn't introduce himself proper for reasons made clear later on, also heading towards the manor. The hellos are strained -- Lady Trentham is clearly not the friendly type --, but Mary is starstruck like the young girl she is. Once they (and the other guests) reach the house, activity is buzzing almost factory-like (factory being an important term here) as the housekeeper, Mrs. Wilson (Helen Mirren, taking self-control and omniscient stillness to a whole different level in a performance that has to be analyzed frame by frame), calmly gives out her orders. However, Altman, Fellowes, and Patrick Doyle bring a little extra dose to the scene the moment Robert Parks (Clive Owen) enters the picture and introduces himself to Mrs. Wilson while Mrs. Croft (Eileen Atkins) passes them by and turns to hear. Not soon after, the camera makes a zoom into a bottle of poison: itself symbolic since immediately after that, the rest of the characters begin to show hints of their own shared "poison." Isobel McCordle (Camila Rutherford), William (Michael Gambon) and Sylvia McCordle's (Kristin Scott Thomas) daughter, is carrying on with Freddie Nesbitt (James Wilby) who is tied to a marriage of convenience to Mabel (Claudie Blakely) whom he feels ashamed of. The Stockbridges are also on the outs, Lord Raymond (Charles Dance) preferring the safety of "his own kind" according to Louisa Stockbridge (Geraldine Sommerville) who is one of William McCordle's many women. Mary learns of the McCordle's familial relation to Ivor Novello from fellow maid Elsie (Emily Watson) who, while staunchly expresses her near-hatred for Lady Sylvia, suggests ever-so-slightly she whom she prefers working for. A later scene reveals little love between the McCordles, William McCordle's repudiation of Lady Constance (and his threat of withdrawing her pension) and even less love between the Nesbitts, and even more tension between the Merediths (Tom Hollander and Natasha Wightman) as they try to con McCordle into some odd business. Greed, lust, and secrets, permeating every pore of Gosford Park and its inhabitants. As a script (and a story written by Julian Fellowes), GOSFORD PARK is one of the most tightly and detailed ever committed to film because it forces the viewer to pay close attention to what characters are saying or suggesting to each other through their body language because everything has its own meaning; nothing is said or done to fulfill a plot requirement or for the sake of making conversation and even the most trivial hints are steps leading towards bigger and bigger denouements, primarily because the characters reveal in snippets pieces of information that tell us they know more about themselves than we do -- and this is its greatest asset. It is the equivalent of an abstract painting that upon scrutiny reveals layers and layers of what people dare not express up front and direct. This makes it, in fact, a delicious mystery and an open secret at the same time. Death and its cause-effect, an element ever present in an Altman film, never looked more elegantly funny. In this movie, with death coming as a murder (or double-murder if you will) to a widely disliked character, only Louisa Stockbridge expresses concern and even then it's somewhat insincere. Altman has great fun exposing the crime scene, but even more fun introducing Stephen Fry as the largely inept investigator because while the truth is brandished right in front of his face under the form of the aforementioned "blink and miss" pieces of information we've been getting, he doesn't see it before we do. GOSFORD PARK is also a meditation about an era where people who represent the exploited part of British society -- Robert Parks, Mrs. Wilson, Elsie --, and outsiders such as Mabel Nesbitt or Morris Weissman react against this caste system that seemed unmindful of the changes happening in the outside world. This doesn't necessarily solve anything or everything that occurs in GOSFORD PARK -- some plots are hinted at and that is fine -- but it does present an intricate comedy of manners of a time gone by just before WWII when Upstairs people mingled and shared their lives with the Downstairs people. Edited 11.17.2006
This is a lovingly crafted, beautifully acted ensemble piece set in an English Country House which is superficially a murder mystery. In reality, it is damning indictment of the class system and the level of servitude expected from those at the top of the tree from those that wait upon them. What was surprising was the level of humour that Altman brings to what is, as it unfolds, a very sad story of transgression and loss. Maggie Smith has all the funniest lines as a viscious but impoverished woman who comes to her family with begging cap in hand. Those playing characters "above stairs" all look and sound the part and effortlessly give the impression of wealth and privelege and the callousness that breeds. Many of the "downstairs" characters drive the story and there are some wonderfully wry performances from the likes of Richard E Grant and Alan Bates. As the moral centre of the film, Kelly McDonald is excellent and is well matched by Emily Watson as Emily and Clive Owen as Parkes. Ruling the downstairs troop is Helen Mirren whose cool visage hides a seething mass of emotion. A well deserved nomination here. Only Robert Altman could assemble a cast of this magnitude and distinction and have many of them speak no more than a few lines ! Greats of English theatre like Derek Jacobi have small but memorable roles and there is not a bad note struck from any of the predominantly English cast. I was slightly puzzled by the character played by Ryan Phillipe (although his perforamce was fine) but felt that the intrusion of two Americans into this English mix worked well to highlight the entrenched class roles played by everyone in the house. Whilst perhaps not his best work, this is a very good Altman film - we move in and out of conversations whilst never losing their import and the cimematography has a fluidity that few other film makers can match. A classy piece of film-making that rewards careful attention from the viewer.