The Dallas International Film Festival opened last weekend. As I’ve done for the past two years, I signed on to be a driver, shuttling film makers and other festival staff and film buffs between theaters. Needless to say, as someone in “The Biz,” I love movies – and being part of the festival is lots of fun. You meet new people, make contacts, see great movies that you wouldn’t see otherwise, and go to plenty of parties.
I’ve mentioned in a few other posts that my paying job is freelance makeup artist for film and television production. Once in a while the two come together (the blog and my job that is), as they did for me last weekend when I discovered Beaulieu, England, and Lord Montagu.
I was driving for the Film Festival last Friday night and this lovely couple hopped into the car for me to drive them back to their hotel. I started up a conversation with them and asked if they had a film showing in the festival. They did – it was Luke Korem, one of the writers and director of the film, Lord Montagu, and his wife.
Here’s what I knew about the film from the DIFF website:
As the youngest member in parliament and sole heir to his family’s 7,000-acre English estate, Lord Edward Montague’s life was rich and privileged. However in 1954, Edward, then aged twenty-five, became England’s most infamous aristocrat when he was arrested for homosexual offenses and eventually sentenced to a year in prison. Despite the odds against him, Montagu persevered to become a prominent national figure by turning his estate into one of England’s greatest tourist attractions, and leading the way into a new era of the British aristocracy.
This film has it all, money, power, British nobility, and a historically significant home.
I liked this film even more than I expected to. The town of Beaulieu and Palace House, Lord Montagu’s family home, surrounded by beautiful forested lands and fronting a river, are stunning.
Woven into the story of the Beaulieu and Palace House is the history of England at the time Lord Montagu was arrested, shortly after the end of WWII. Though he was never found guilty and the evidence against him was sketchy at best, it was a moment in history that was ripe for the particular scandal created around him.
Lord Montagu was one of many noble landowners in England, fighting to save his family’s ancestral properties. He was also one of the first to open his home to the public as a museum. His arrest on charges of homosexuality however, had its effect on the number of tourists coming to Palace House. That, along with competition from other noble homes opening to the public, found Lord Montagu again struggling to save Beaulieu. As is often the case, the answer was right in front of him all along.
Lord Montagu’s father had been one of the first to embrace the motor car and with his small collection, Lord Montagu established Montagu Motor Museum (now the National Motor Museum) – thus securing the financial stability of Beaulieu.
Beaulieu is now a well-known tourist attraction that truly offers something for everyone: cars, history, culture, architecture, picnic areas, and rides for the kids.
A final note about the film makers, all of whom I met in Dallas: Luke Korem, writer/director; Bradley Jackson, screenwriter; and Russell Groves, producer, are genuinely talented and nice guys. They did a brilliant job of bringing Lord Montagu’s story to the screen with dignity and respect for him and his family. They also graciously supplied me with the photographs for the story.
The movie is currently playing at festivals across the US. Check the Facebook page for updates and locations.
Top attractions and information on Beaulieu:
Palace House and the National Motor Museum are a top tourist attraction in the South of England.
The Bond Museum, an adjunct to the National Motor Museum, is home to the largest collection of official Bond movie vehicles in the world.
The name Beaulieu means beautiful place.
Beaulieu Abbey was founded by Cistercian monks in 1204.
Palace House was formerly the Great Gatehouse of Beaulieu Abbey, and has been the ancestral home of Lord Montagu’s family since 1538
Beaulieu is one of the ten most magnificent stately homes in Britain and is part of a group of homes called Treasure Houses of England. Each one contains some of the most important art collections in the world. They are architectural masterpieces surrounded by beautiful gardens.
Learn more about Beaulieu
A great post about the area and a suggested itinerary if you are near Beaulieu with lots of information on the National Motor Museum: