The representation of the relations between the aristocracy and their servants in robert altman's film gosford park

1631 mots 7 pages
Paulina Wapińska
The representation of the relations between the aristocracy and their servants in Robert Altman’s film Gosford Park
An old British mansion, many guests for the weekend, a murder in the library... All these familiar elements of a detective story are present in Robert Altman’s film Gosford Park. In autumn 1932 Sir William Mc Cordle and his wife, Lady Sylvia, invite their friends for a shooting party. On this occasion some family secrets are revealed, some hidden emotions burst out and the host finally gets killed.
However, Gosford Park is not an adaptation of one of Agatha Christie’s novels. Contrary to her works, here the murder mystery serves as a good opportunity to observe some members of the English aristocracy and their servants and also the interactions between these two worlds.
These interactions are comlex, sometimes amibguous, and far from ideal. Stephen Holden in his article Full of Baronial Splendour and Hatefullnes makes a comparison between Gosford Park and Upstairs Downstairs, calling the latter ‘a reassuring Edwardian soap opera in which the beneficent ruling class dispensed noblesse oblige to the true-blue servants, and everybody was reasonably settled and happy.’ Robert Altman’s film, on the contrary, ‘portrays a similar milieu as a Darwinian shark tank of money grubbing, social climbing and scurrilous gossip in which upstairs and downstairs are treacherously intertwined.’(Holden: 1)
In fact, the lower class is presented in a much more favorable light than their ‘superiors’, who should be role models, their source of morality and wisdom.
The aristocrats in the film are in decline. Most of them are impoverished and pathetic. The host made a fortune on industry and thus was able to join the ranks of aristocrats. They despise him, despite being dependent on his money. His cold and snobbish wife tells him that he behaves like a peasant, the Countess of Trentham (who is Lady Sylvia's aunt) behaves as if she was the queen

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