Satire of class distinction in the film 'Gosford Park' by Robert Altman (including techniques)

Essay by StephiHigh School, 11th gradeA+, October 2004

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One of the main issues being satirised in Gosford Park is the absurdity of class distinction in society. Altman satirises the idea of a social hierarchy, where people are separated into different classes based on their amount of wealth and aristocracy, forced to live different lives and be different people. He highlights the negative effects imposed on society, especially the upper class, as a result of class distinction, where one must do things they do not wish to do, and pretend to someone they're not in order to maintain appearances. He does this to make the world aware of just how ridiculous and pointless class distinction is, which is relevant to the growing gap between the different socio-economic classes of today. His aim is to make us rethink our priorities, to bring about change, and reform society's values as a whole.

Firstly, Altman uses the classification of upstairs and downstairs to represent class distinction.

The people upstairs are used to represent the upper classes of society, while the servants downstairs are used to represent the working classes. The two classes are distinguished in several different ways, through lighting, where the bright, lighting upstairs is used as a stark contrast to the dim lighting downstairs, and the juxtaposition of mise en scene, where extravagant furnishings such glittering chandeliers, and detailed costuming of upstairs are juxtaposed with the simple and practical furnishings and costuming of downstairs. In doing this, Altman demonstrates the effect of class distinction on a society- the two classes must live two very different lives in two very different environments. As stated by one of the servants "you can't be on both teams at once."

By combining this with the relationships between the upstairs and downstairs characters, the meaninglessness of class distinction is underlined. Throughout Gosford Park, the personalities...