Robert Altman: “In Gosford Park, there is an Agatha Christie side”

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Robert Altman: "In Gosford Park, there is an Agatha Christie side"
March Distribution

In 2002, the filmmaker told us how he had diverted the codes of the thriller with this film, rebroadcast this evening on Arte.

Make way for the mystery tonight on Arte with the rerun of Gosford Park, the Cluedo in camera directed by Robert altman. Brilliant “whodunit “ locked between the four walls of a sumptuous country house, the film orchestrates, in the background of the resolution of the murder case, a ballet of intrigue and revelation brilliant between all the guests of Gosford Park.
Carried by an incredibly prestigious cast mixing the best of British cinema and theater and a few faces from across the Atlantic.

The synopsis of Gosford Park : England 1932. The Countess Constance of Trentham (Maggie Smith), goes with her niece and her maid Mary (Kelly macdonald), on a hunting trip in Sir William McCordle’s mansion (Michael gambon). The other guests, family and friends, also accompanied by their valets or chambermaids, are accommodated on the first floor while the servants are on the floor below led by the butler Jennings (Alan bates), the housekeeper Mrs Wilson (Helen mirren) and the cook Mrs Croft. Mary shares Elsie’s room, who teaches her how to find her way around the huge house. Elsie also explains to him the clashes between Mrs Croft and Mrs Wilson or those of Sir McCordle’s guests. Mary lives her stay intensely, harassed by the valet Henry and curious about the one who calls himself Parks. In the midst of it all, Sir William is assassinated.

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In March 2002, First had a crush on Gosford Park, considered as “one of the peaks of Robert Altman’s career” by Olivier de Bruyn in his review. Extract : “By using the pretext of a false detective plot à la Agatha Christie, Altman films as in his best hours a theater of ridicule where all the characters have good reasons to curse their fate. (…) With his actors, for Most English and all excellent, he patiently reveals deleterious family secrets and, thanks to a truly confusing sense of composition, alternates funny incises and frankly overwhelming revelations. “

The director, famous among others for MASH and Nashville, who died in 2006, confided in our issue 301 that he had taken pleasure in playing with the codes of detective films in order to have more fun with the expectations of the public: “I had never approached the genre of English thriller. In Gosford Park, there is an Agatha Christie side way Ten Little Negroes. I chose to use a frame which approaches this universe but by diverting it. The film is built like a card game. One of his cards would be Agatha Christie, another Rules of the Game, by Jean Renoir, a third Jacques Tati with the burlesque character of the inspector. (…) When the film begins, the spectator is on familiar ground. The rain, the servants waiting on the steps, the music … The universe resembles that of James Ivory’s films. And then, little by little, I try to lead the audience in much less comfortable directions. I have tried to be as specific as possible about the portrayal of 1930s British mores. But the real issue of the film is to destroy conventional imagery. “

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