EUROPE 1913 AND THE WINDS OF WAR: “THE SHOOTING PARTY” MOVIE FROM 1985

September 26, 2010 at 10:58 pm | Posted in Art, Books, History, Literary, Philosophy, United Kingdom | Leave a comment

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The Shooting Party (1985)

Storyline

While Europe stands on the brink of a World War in Autumn 1913, Sir Randolph Nettleby hosts a weekend of shooting on his estate for European aristocrats.

Director: Alan Bridges

Writers: Julian Bond, Isabel Colegate (novel)

Release Date: September 1985 (USA)

Autumn, 1913: on the eve of the Great War, a small party of lords and ladies gather at the Hertfordshire estate of Sir Randolph Nettleby. A code of propriety governs all: dress, breakfast, relations with the estate’s peasants, courtship, shooting, adultery. Lionel Stephens, who is courting Sir Randolph’s daughter, gets into a shooting competition with Lord Gilbert Hartlip; Lord Gilbert’s wife carries on discreet affairs; a pamphleteer circles the estate calling for no more killing, and Sir Robert’s grandson hopes to protect a wild duck he’s befriended. A way of life is ending: Lord Gilbert’s violation of the gentlemen’s code suggests internal rot as the real world presses in,

There comes a time during the shooting when John Gielgud, as an anti-hunting pamphleteer, marches boldly into the line of fire and disrupts the hunt. James Mason, as the Lord of the manor, takes him aside. The conversation they have is delightful, amazing, perfectly written, perfectly acted. It is a joy. (Mason, “Ahhh, special terms.”)

Comment:

The feeling of 1913 in Europe and the gathering “winds of war” and general ennui and subtle tension, are explored in Zweig’s novel, “Beware of Pity” and Musil’s masterpiece “The Man Without Qualities” (“Der Mann Ohne Eigenschaften”). This movie should be weighed in that context along with these other works.

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