Sunday, 25 June 2017

Unit 06: Critical Approach - Downton Abbey

Throughout the clip taken from ITV’s Downton Abbey a representation of class and status is constructed throughout using a variety of different techniques.
Firstly when looking at the opening shot; Daisy is present and knocks on the door of the other maids room loudly to wake those inside, calling out whilst she does so.
Throughout this sequence the focus remains on the door rather than the character knocking, Daisy is completely out of focus as she walks towards the door and when she knocks and calls out only her hand becomes the focus of the shot.
From a filming point of view this may have simply been to show that Daisy was not an important role to the narrative in this scene, however analysing from a semiotic point of view this may have been done in order to show that the maids around Downton Abbey were mostly faceless and unimportant due to their lower class and status within the household.
This happens throughout the tracking shot also when Daisy is walking through the rooms of the upper level of the building, almost all of the maids doing their daily duties are not in focus and very few faces are actually seen on camera, again suggesting their low importance and their expendability as they are all portrayed as the same and a very hard to distinguish from one another.
Another aspect which makes the maids difficult to define is their uniforms as they are all dressed the same suggesting very little individuality and again makes all the maids seem very unimportant due to their lower class.
Focusing again on the waking of the maid’s scene, it suggests a lot about their status and how the staff fall on the hierarchy of the home that they are awoken.
One of the ladies that wakes after the knock states "Awh, just once in my life I'd like to sleep until I woke up natural", suggesting that this rude awakening occurs often and that the staff are in need of more sleep (Possibly suggesting long and strenuous working hours – As later portrayed by the duties we seem them carrying out throughout the home and the long list of duties given to Daisy in the kitchen)
This rest interruption is portrayed once again when the staff and gathered eating their breakfasts and the bells for food begin to ring. The fact that their well-being is taken much less importantly than that of the owners of Downton Abbey shows the difference in status very clearly. 
This awakening contrasted massively to that of Lady Mary in her bedroom as she gracefully awoke herself undisturbed, so much so that she returns to her bed and calls for service. This subsequently portrays Lady Mary as living the fantasy of the maid from the previous scenes and shows how the maid aspires to be in the same class and status of her superior.
Analysing the scene of Lady Mary's awakening further, as she wonders to her window and looks out of it she spots Paperboy. 
A deeper reading of this scene would be that Lady Mary is looking out of her window and down at Paperboy, suggesting that she is more powerful and possibly representing in a literal form how she is 'higher' in class than the boy below her. 
This technique of representing a character and how they fall on the hierarchy of Downton Abbey through their physical level is used numerous times throughout including; when Daisy is receiving her list of chores from Mrs Patmore, when Daisy is receiving criticism on the fire from Mrs Hughes and when Paperboy first arrives at Downton Abbey and how the building towers over him. 
Levels are used again in a similar technique very notably with the introduction of Robert Crawley as he slowly descends the stairs, beginning at the top of the home.  
He is physically above everyone member of staff at this point although none are present in the room (All are below in their quavers/the kitchen). 
The fact that no other character is present in the home as this peaceful scene occurs is also very significant as it differs massively to the typical manically busy scenes of the staff of Downton Abbey as they all prepared for the awakening of the owners of the home. 
The tranquil music playing is massively different to the erratic paced music played within the kitchen scenes featuring Mrs Patmore and Daisy speak about chores.
Looking more at sound, the scenes with Robert travelling down the stairs is all but silent so much so you can hear each step he takes as he travels down the stairs, whereas comparing to the kitchen scene again, there was much more talking, the cluttering of pots and pans and other noise pollution. 

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