Monday, December 16, 2013

“Lucan” captures the time well–warts and all

Aside from its visual period authenticity and its excellent cast and performances "Lucan" really does have the ring of truth about it. Rory Kinnear in the title role is as good as we have come to expect from this fine actor. Christopher Ecclestone captures John Aspinall well. This was a time of transition when gradually the old order let it all slip. It was quite a long time acoming - the power of the aristocratic wastrel to survive Attlee and inheritance tax and SuperTax was remarkable. Sometimes it was benign - Macmillan's Noblesse Oblige was almost endearing for example. Often it was borderline funny - the "Upper Class Twit of the Year" was almost documentary rather than satire. But deep down it was a time of snobbery, elitism, arrogance, ignorance and contempt by those whose experience of life was founded on prejudice and privilege.

Not all a Toffs were bad - but many were. Lucan, Aspinall, Goldsmith and the rest with their silly nicknames never for one second had doubts about their innate right to rule and do what they bloody well liked. Were they "above the law"? Well they certainly thought so. Laws were for the little people who didn't dress for dinner - indeed who thought it was a midday meal. You might hit your long suffering wife from time to time, gamble away your inheritance, leave your children to someone else to bring up, whore around at Cliveden but you did it all with impeccable manners and wearing excellent suits.

The world depicted in "Lucan" looks pretty authentic to me. It is the world in which the Etonian's most risky brush with the vulgar ill-dressed world outside would be when he meets someone who went to a "minor Public School". And the common touch would be like that of John Profumo (Harrow and Brasenose) or Lord Astor (Eton and New College) - with a pretty, young disposable tart. Sybaritic pleasures and the company of those like you and sharing your self-confidence. "Lucan" may not be 100% accurate (it doesn't claim to be) but it captures those people at that time. They haven't all gone away of course the vain dinosaurs of the Upper Classes - but as a nation we managed to marginalise and/or civilise them. And we are all the better for having done so.