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Downton Abbey Fact Check: What A New Era Gets Wrong About Movie History

In Downton Abbey: A New Era Lady Mary is told by Jack Barber of the first few talkies to be released which are actual examples of transition films with negative reception due to their substandard production. The scene contains missing historical information, however, as he and Mary discuss how The Jazz Singer isn’t the first legitimate all-talking picture with only a few minutes of audible dialogue. Barber notes the first all-talking picture released in Britain is The Terror which is true, but the actual first all-talking picture released is a film called Lights of New York. The 1928 crime drama’s reception reflects the society’s attitudes toward talkies then, entranced yet skeptical about their longevity. A New Era shows the dismissive attitude of older generations in relation to talkies but doesn’t fully grasp the negativity these films stirred and romanticizes the floundering Hollywood process in the 1920s.

While the Hollywood focus adds a joyous atmosphere to the new Downton sequel, the film fails to represent the truths about movie history. Despite his frazzled persona, Jack Barber deals with little resistance in his efforts to turn his silent picture into a talkie. Downton Abbey: A New Era makes an effort to portray the history of film properly but leaves out integral information and representation that would have made it fully accurate.


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Downton Abbey Fact Check: What A New Era Gets Wrong About Movie History

In Downton Abbey: A New Era Lady Mary is told by Jack Barber of the first few talkies to be released which are actual examples of transition films with negative reception due to their substandard production. The scene contains missing historical information, however, as he and Mary discuss how The Jazz Singer isn’t the first legitimate all-talking picture with only a few minutes of audible dialogue. Barber notes the first all-talking picture released in Britain is The Terror which is true, but the actual first all-talking picture released is a film called Lights of New York. The 1928 crime drama’s reception reflects the society’s attitudes toward talkies then, entranced yet skeptical about their longevity. A New Era shows the dismissive attitude of older generations in relation to talkies but doesn’t fully grasp the negativity these films stirred and romanticizes the floundering Hollywood process in the 1920s.

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While the Hollywood focus adds a joyous atmosphere to the new Downton sequel, the film fails to represent the truths about movie history. Despite his frazzled persona, Jack Barber deals with little resistance in his efforts to turn his silent picture into a talkie. Downton Abbey: A New Era makes an effort to portray the history of film properly but leaves out integral information and representation that would have made it fully accurate.

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