I try to translate these verses into the English language.
“My dream feeds on abandonment and regret.
I love only the roses that I didn’t reap, I love only the things that could have happened and they didn’t…
I see the houses, here are the roses of the beautiful garden of twenty years ago!”
Guido Gozzano was an Italian poet leader of a poetic school known as crepuscolarismo, a poetic current of the early twentieth century, characterized by the use of a simple and confidential language and by the search for small things in common use and daily gestures that become imbued with melancholy in memory.
The excerpt from this poem (Cocotte) expresses regret and nostalgic memories and every time I look at this scene, with the protagonists who are so close and yet so distant, that although they love each other so much they have never even managed to call each other by name, this poem always comes to mind.
Today marks the 16th anniversary of Christopher Reeve’s death. We honor him with a clip from the movie “The remains of the day”, shot two years before Reeve’s accident.
“I have to say this: you are, all of you, amateurs and International affairs should never be run by gentlemen amateurs. Do you have an idea of what sort of a place the world is becoming all around you?”.
Doctor Richard Carlisle takes Stevens to the car, helps him fill the fuel tank and after hearing his story about lord Darlington he seems intrigued and asks Stevens a question: “If a mistake was to be made, wouldn’t you rather have made your own?”
Carlisle is a fringe figure in the film, who Stevens meets on his way to the appointment with Miss Kenton but his words make Stevens aware that he made a mistake that he intends to remedy.
Becoming servants was the only way out to redeem a life of poverty and people who lived downstairs wanted to improve their working position.
“Downstairs” there was a world teeming with hope, jealousy, strife, dedication to work, sufferings and small joys.
Sometimes the servants got married and left the house. For the butler and the housekeeper, instead, it was difficult (if not impossible) to make a life outside work because they were the highest servants in rank, they were perpetually committed of service to their employers and they had many responsibilities, also over other staff such as training new staff members, organising the staff schedule, and hiring or firing the underservants. So almost always they retired without ever getting married.
Mr Stevens is the quintessence of the perfect butler and he never really gives Miss Kenton’s love a chance. Their relationship is so frustrating and every time she tries to start a romantic conversation with him, he systematically brings the conversation back to a professional level. The sweet fondness between Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes of Downton Abbey brings to mind the story of Mr Stevens and Miss Kenton so I’m sure that their relationship is inspired by The Remains of the day.
Unlike Mr Stevens and Miss Kenton, Mr Carson and Mrs Hughes choose to give themselves a chance perhaps because they are older and on the threshold of retirement, maybe because they fear the prospect of facing old age in solitude. Anyway the decide to get married.
But the relationship (emotional and professional) between the butler and the housekeeper is not the only similarities between “The remains of the day” and “Downton Abbey”. Many scenes are inspired by “The remains of the day”, starting with the butler who irons the newspaper, the table set using the measuring tape and another pivotal scene in which we see Carson mirroring himself in the tray as Stevens did stealthily.
There is another scene borrowed from “The remains of the day” which concerns two other characters: Edith on her bicycle makes us immediately think about the arrival of Miss Kenton at Darlington Hall, both bikes are black and have a basket on the handlebars and the two women are both wearing hat and black gloves, although some details in the clothing show us the different social class of the two.
But if “The remains of the day” has highlighted Steven’s blind fidelity to Lord Darlington showing the incommunicability between the servants and the lords, divided as two different worlds, “Downton Abbey” focuses on two worlds that often communicate and sometimes meet, it shows the analogies between the servants and the nobles facing love and life problems, and gives everyone the chance for redemption and the hope and the possibility of a better life.