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Secrets of Highclere Castle(TV) (2012)
Secrets of Highclere Castle is the true story of one of the world’s most famous homes, Highclere Castle in England. Famous as the location backdrop to the hugely-popular costume drama Downton Abbey, the castle also has its own extraordinary tales to tell. The show explores Highclere’s illustrious history and reveals that truth can often be stranger than fiction. Many of the events played-out in the fictional Downton Abbey are based-upon true tales from Highclere’s past. Today, the castle remains the family home of Lord and Lady Carnarvon. At around a million dollars a year in upkeep, the life of the English nobility is no longer one of extravagant parties and opulence. Secrets of Highclere Castle gives a privileged, behind-the-scenes taste of what it is like to be a modern-day Lord and Lady living in a home with 1300 years of English history.
For more about Secrets of Highclere Castle and the Secrets of Highclere Castle Blu-ray release, see Secrets of Highclere Castle Blu-ray Review published by Brian Orndorf on August 28, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Narrator: Samuel West
» See full cast & crew
Secrets of Highclere Castle Blu-ray Review
Imagine the mortgage.
Reviewed by Brian Orndorf, August 28, 2013
Located in the United Kingdom, Highclere Castle is an extraordinary country house teeming with pure majesty in worlds of art and architecture, constructed nearly two hundred years ago as a show of wealth. It's also the current home and inspiration for the blockbuster television series, "Downton Abbey," making its considerable history pale in comparison to its current rank as a popular tourist attraction, launching a million fantasies of elegance, order, and opulence.
Of course, a home such as Highclere doesn't exist solely to shelter a family. It's now a business overseen by George, the Earl of Carnarvon, and wife Lady Carnarvon, a couple dedicated to the preservation of the Castle and its 1,000 acre estate. Although once home to an army of staff tending to every need, economic changes have whittled the help down to a select few, with these highly trained individuals tasked with preserving tradition while embracing the future. The program greets butlers, cooks, and groundskeepers to learn more about the demands of such positions (it can take up to two days to clean one chandelier), gathering their perspective on the importance of Highclere and the labor required to bring it to life every day.
History plays a critical part of the show as well, delving into the generations that cared for the estate, exploring how wars and archeological discoveries have helped to shape the character of Highclere. Special attention is paid to George's great-grandfather, who assisted in the discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen, thus gifting the house one of its first surges in popularity, with replicas of artifacts arranged in the lower levels of the castle as tribute.
Secrets of Highclere Castle Blu-ray, Video Quality
The AVC encoded visual (1.78:1 aspect ratio) presentation here is enjoyable, accurately capturing the HD video look of the program, with only a few incidents of banding to remind viewers of BD limitations. Colors are stable and true, with compelling primaries and dominant shades of green to expose the natural vividness of the sprawling acreage. Golds are equally potent, especially when detailed in the Egyptian artifact section of the show. Detail is sharp and revealing, with engaging facial textures on interviewees and deep reveals of interiors, where background particulars are as fascinating as foreground action. Blacks are consistent and expressive. Skintones are spot-on.
Secrets of Highclere Castle Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The 2.0 DTS-HD MA sound mix is expectedly simplistic, befitting a television endeavor. Narration is crisp and clean, always carrying itself with textured regality, while interview audio is deep and varied, exposing natural accents in full. Scoring is healthy and supportive, with fresh instrumentation. It's a basic track but satisfying, without any distortion.
Secrets of Highclere Castle Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
There is no supplementary material found on this disc.
Secrets of Highclere Castle Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
While "Downton Abbey" is mentioned repeatedly, the squeak of fandom is kept to a bare minimum, with no effort made to share the extent of Highclere's current position as a top tourist destination. The lack of a contemporary perspective is disappointing, but the show remains a fascinating tour of luxury, walking viewers around amazing buildings and ornate rooms, cementing Highclere Castle's reputation as a time machine to a bygone era of wealth and class.
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