Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Two View Movie Review: Gosford Park

Set in 1932, Gosford Park (2001) is a multi-layered story about wealthy Britons & their servants who go to a Manor in the country for a hunting party. The servants get together & gossip about their bosses & each other, while the upper class reveals the skeletons in their closets more & more as the weekend goes on. Things reach a climax when someone winds up murdered & everyone is a suspect.

The movie plays out like a whodunit, but it is more than a murder/mystery. Similar to the film The Rules of the Game, Gosford Park studies the class system in Britain & focuses on how much the upper class relies on the lower class; or in the film, the people who lounge upstairs & the people who work downstairs. A number of other themes include the decline of the British Empire, British life between the two World Wars, & sexual issues like homosexuality. The film would be considered  a humorous, mystery drama. The film takes itself quite seriously, but that hard-to-imitate British wit is infused in every scene (Maggie Smith is a perfect example of this quality.)

Gosford Park was Robert Altman's second-to-last film before his death in 2006. Altman & cinematographer Andrew Dunn filmed the film in subtle yet interesting ways. During scenes with a large group, they had two cameras running at the same time, out of each other's shots, of course,  which would require some choreography, as the filmmakers also never had the cameras standing still. Altman stated he did this in order to create a natural setting for the actors, causing them to talk amongst each other & not to the camera. The actors also wore portable microphones instead of using a boom mic so that the dialog could be overlapped, again, so that the scenes are as natural as possible.

The film is without a doubt convoluted, as the film contains over 20 characters, each with their own progressive storyline. Still, Gosford Park is the perfect "Two View Review" film, as it requires a second view, but don't get me wrong, the first view is enough for the actors (which includes every great British actor working at the time) & the filmmakers to convey their love for their craft. The subsequent viewings are just layers added to a delicious cake.

No comments:

Post a Comment