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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I Dies From Love (1972) from the early years of the UK Television
classic show Upstairs, Downstairs, is the most emotionally moving and
profound episode in the entire series.
Emily the scullery maid in the Bellamy family's household is a poor Irish Catholic girl who can't seem to get all her servant's work done properly and she therefore becomes the target of the impatient Mrs. Bridges' verbal tongue lashings. Emily has a habit of staring out her window and daydreaming while the rich peoples' carriages roll by.
She falls in love with a rich woman's groom and he is drawn to her sweetness and beauty, but after they are discovered (servants were not permitted to marry in those days) the groom is told to stop seeing Emily and cowardly obliges his employer, after telling Emily that he loves her. Emily's poor heart cannot stand the rejection and on the day of the servants' picnic she commits suicide by hanging and is discovered by Rose, played by Jean Marsh.
The beautiful folk song The Butcher Boy is sung by the actress off camera during pivotal scenes, adding to the poignancy of this episode. The actress who played Emily was Evie Crowly, who did a superb job.
No other episode comes close to showing the utter despair of the servants' classes.
"Oh make my grave large, wide and deep, Put a marble stone at my head and feet. And in the middle a turtle dove, So the world may know I died from love."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Undoubtedly the most shocking and dramatic of all the episodes from the
entire five seasons! 'I Dies From Love' is the story of the little
Irish Kitchen Maid who falls in love with a visiting Footman, but they
are forbidden to ever see each other.
The often wrongly assumed thought that the person who commits suicide has to become mentally unstable prior to the immediate moment before the act, is most definitely borne out here as we see the pathetic Emily breaking her heart and sobbing on her bed like a girl who's definitely lost her mind... The real heart-rending scenes are of course seeing all the members of staff quite oblivious to her state of mind as they carry on quite normally with their own lives around her. This probably happens in real life more than we'd care to acknowledge. Emily was marvellously played by the talented actress Evin Crowley. Despite her award-wining performance here, we've seen little of her on our screens since. This performance should really have secured her future career.
This episode is both tragic and absorbing, and is probably one of the best remembered, and certainly one of 'Upstairs, Downstairs'' finest moments! Award-winning stuff! Also stars the talented actress Yolande Turner in one the most memorable performances of her career also as the snooty and heartless 'Mrs. Van Groeben'.
I wish I could comment on the characters, but to do so would unveil the
story. Needless to say this is tragedy at its finest, and moved me.
The utter unfairness in turn of the century England when it came to the working class is shown. The little maid from Ireland reminds me of a few people I've known, and seeing her plight and fate should bring utter outrage to the viewer. The upper classes hold near divine social power over the working classes, and we see this all too clear as machinations and jealousies rear their disgusting heads when two people find one another interesting and absorbing.
But fate and the reptilian instincts of the matriarch who employs the male reveals her true colors and own twisted domination. One of the maids coworkers tries to help in her own brute tongued way, but can the Irish Catholic girl, the one with a proper upbringing, one whose heart is open and full of wonder all at once, as well as full of giving and desire for better circumstances, accept some of the hardships and realities of her time? Possibly, if things are delivered in a manner she can understand. To find out what happens, you have to watch the episode.
It is a grim reflection on how jaded and emotionally spoilt today's generations are when it comes to matters of the heart. With sexual trysts of all sorts running rampant in society, with divorce at an all time high in my country, the United States of America, one wonders if any of the self serving who have been in several relationships have ever considered just how fortunate and lucky they are to found someone of interest who likes them. One wonders.
But, this is after all a TV show, and it is fantasy. From that standpoint you can see the show as being almost comically melodramatic, as much of the show might be interpreted with a different frame of mind. But, when viewed as a hard drama, this episode in particular, is moving.
Technical notes; the actors, particularly actress Evin Crowley, all do a bang up job of bringing us Edwardian characters. Shot on PAL video the data I streamed from Amazon was as near crystal clear as the technology of the time would permit. As with all or most British dramas of the time, we're seeing video tape used for interiors, and 16mm used for what few exterior shots there are. An economical if marginally distracting avenue of presentation, but this episode does not suffer for it.
High drama at its best, it would be nice if there were some repercussions for the characters. Oh well.
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