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Gosford Park

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Tea at four. Dinner at eight. Murder at midnight.

It's 1932 and Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon) and his wife Sylvia (Kirsten Scott Thomas) are gathering friends and relations for a country weekend. In the style of Nashville, with its multiple interlocking stories, director Robert Altman reveals the two worlds of Gosford Park. One is played out in the grounds, the dining hall and the bedrooms of the mansion, where the English aristocracy are enjoying their final fling. The other is a secret world below stairs, where the servants see and hear far more than they should - and more than they ever dare to admit. Beneath the veneer of elegant behaviour, tensions start showing at the weekend shooting party. Guests begin arguing among themselves as the glittering fabric of their lives unravels. But a far more shocking event is about to occur... Sir William, having left the drawing room to visit his gun collection, is found dead. Murdered - not once, but twice: poisoned, then stabbed. The local detective, Inspector Thompson, discovers that there is hardly anyone in the house who did not have a reason to murder Sir William...

Theatrical propaganda posters

Gosford Park image

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film UK English Georgian countryside weekend manor murder artistocracy class

Persons of interest

  • Michael Gambon .... Sir William McCordle
  • Kirsten Scott Thomas .... Lady Sylvia McCordle
  • Jeremy Northam .... Ivor Novello
  • Camilla Rutherford .... Isobel McCordle
  • Maggie Smith .... Constance, Countess Of Trentham
  • Charles Dance .... Raymond, Lord Stockbridge
  • Geraldine Somerville .... Louisa, Lady Stockbridge
  • Tom Hollander .... Lieutenant Commander Anthony Meredith
  • Natasha Wightman .... Lady Lavinia Meredith
  • James Wilby .... The Honourable Freddie Nesbitt
  • Claudie Blakley .... Mabel Nesbitt
  • Laurence Fox .... Lord Rupert Standish
  • Trent Ford .... Jeremy Blond
  • Bob Balaban .... Morris Weissman, Idea
  • Julian Fellowes .... Screenwriter
  • Robert Altman .... Idea, Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

On one level, Gosford Park is about the differences between social classes and the complete pointlessness of the highest one (other than as consumers, of course). On another level it's about racism, but since it's against Americans, and Americans from Hollywood at that, it's only technically racism because all Americans are gormless and vulgar. At yet another level it's about love and the pain that goes with it when you aren't capable of expressing it. It's also a fascinating historical look at life in between-war England. And it's bitingly funny (all British humour).

The one jarring note is the atrociously bumbling Inspector whose total incompetence especially when played against the brilliant police work of his constable may be the perfect microcosm of the story but is completely out of character for the film. Lowbrow humour does not mix well with black comedy. (Note to budding filmmakers: keep your genres pure.)

The cast is a formidable collection of English actors, any one of whom could play lead roles and all of whom subsume their egos for the betterment of the whole. Talk about communism in action. For once, the women are given the most interesting roles and the best lines while the men waft about in the background like so many stuffed peacocks. The settings and costumery are stunning, not only in respect of the upper class but especially in the variety of the lower class. The dark, cramped and spartan living conditions of the servants make a brilliant contrast with those of the uppers.

There's lots to look at, lots to listen to and lots to think about, all cooked up in a surprising and genuine mystery. If you like Merchant Ivory, you'll like Gosford Park.

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Languages: English
  • Picture: Widescreen 16:9
  • Special features:
    • Commentary
    • Deleted scenes
    • Featurettes:
      • Authenticity of "Gosford Park"
      • Making of "Gosford Park"
    • Question-and-answer sessions
  • Subtitles: English

Security censorship classification

M (Low level coarse language, low level sex scene)

Surveillance time

137 minutes (2:17 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 14 March 2002
DVD rental: 27 November 2002
DVD retail: 27 November 2002
VHS rental: 27 November 2002

Cinema surveillance images

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