"I watched the new Downton Abbey movie and yes, fans should emotionally prepare themselves."

“So, can I watch the Downton Abbey movie if I haven’t watched all of the Downton Abbey TV series?”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked this question since I caught a preview of the film, I’d be making my way to work each day in one of those pricey Ubers with the good air conditioning and free water.

The critically acclaimed and fan favoured Downton Abbey TV series, which ran from 2010 to 2015, is continued on in movie form with the feature film of the same name dropping into Australian cinemas this week.

So while the movie is a direct continuation of the TV series, as in it picks up a year after where the TV finale left off, you don’t necessarily have to have schlepped through all the seasons to enjoy the grandeur and charm of this film, but it does help.

The Downton Abbey movie is set in 1927, at a time when the Great Depression was looming and the once overly affluent Crawley family are left tightening their belts and with their army of servants now severely diminished they are also wondering what the place of their family and their estate is going forward into this new world.

The majority of the action in the film takes place around the unexpected royal visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Downtown Abbey, sending all who dwell under the estate’s opulent roof into a tizzy and leading to a whole lot of high jinks from the “downstairs” crew when the royal contingent arrive and begin throwing their power and privilege around.

It’s a storyline that Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes confirms has been pulled directly from real-world events, drawn from the time the King and Queen Mary visited South Yorkshire in 1912 and the stories that sprung from their tour.

Take a look at the trailer for the Downton Abbey movie below. Post continues after video.


As someone who has only seen the first few seasons of Downton Abbey, I was easily able to follow along and enjoy the film but there were a few moments where I was left squinting at the screen and wondering, “Who is that nice young gentleman and why is everyone looking at him with such sad eyes?” so I would recommend doing a little deep dive on the last season at least before you enter the cinema, just so that the film’s more intricate and emotive moments pack a proper punch for you.

One of the highlights of the film was seeing the cast members all reunited on screen, and how much it came across during the course of the movie that they were all relishing the opportunity to reprise their iconic characters.

During the course of the film, the enormous preparation of the royal visit falls upon the shoulders of Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) which is made all the more difficult due to the fact that she is the family member contemplating leaving the estate.

Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) is finding it difficult to balance a life of duty with the life she wants with her husband, while Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt) and John Bates (Brendan Coyle) lead the charge when it comes to the Downton downstairs crew facing off against their royal counterparts.

Just as it was with the TV series,  Dame Maggie Smith’s ever-cutting Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham runs away with the whole show, her commentary on the goings-on around her provide the biggest laughs of the movie as she battles her cousin Lady Maud Bagshaw (Imelda Staunton) for her son’s Robert Crawley’s (Hugh Bonneville) inheritance.

My final piece of advice on how to emotionally prepare yourself to watch Downton Abbey is not to expect the big movie treatment to change the DNA of this world. The movie very much floats along as if it were an extended version of a made for TV episode, there are a few big reveals but mostly it’s just a chance for you to pay one last visit to Downton Abbey.

Downton Abbey will open in cinemas Australia-wide from Thursday, September 12. It is rated PG.

For more stories like this, you can follow Mamamia Entertainment Editor Laura Brodnik on Facebook.  You can also visit our newsletter page and sign up to “TV and Movies”  for a backstage pass to the best movies, TV shows and celebrity interviews (see one of her newsletters here).