In honor of Veterans Day on Tuesday, November 11, Movies at the Library will show “The Shooting Party,” a 1984 British gem set in the autumn of 1913 in the days just before World War I. The film offers a gently probing study of an aristocratic Edwardian society, a way of life destined to be on its way out with the coming of the war.
Sir Randolph Nettleby, played by James Mason, hosts a hunting weekend at his lush Derbyshire estate.
Invited are various nobles, ready and willing to kill some animals. A code of propriety governs all and is observed: dress, breakfast, relations with the estate’s peasants, the traditions of shooting.
Over the weekend, various goings-on are revealed and the fragile mask that is holding them together begins to crack. Their lifestyle is ending and one guest’s violation of the gentleman’s code suggests internal rot as the real world presses in. It leads up to a tragic but sadly inevitable climax.
The cast is British film royalty. In addition to Mason — whose last film this was — prominent in the cast are John Gielgud, Edward Fox, Dorothy Tutin, Robert Hardy and Gordon Jackson. The screenplay is by Julian Bond, based on a novel by Isabel Colgate.
This is a beautifully understated drama, wonderfully held together by Alan Bridges’ atmospheric direction. The period setting is very well evoked and the dialogue is superb. The film develops quietly and builds to a shattering climax.
Roger Ebert wrote, “There is nothing new in the message of this film but a great deal of artistry in the telling.”
Don’t miss this exquisite movie. Remember to enter from Bateman Road as the library is officially closed for the holiday. See you there!