Parade's End

Parade's End

DVD - 2013
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Set over a tumultuous ten-year period in the early 20th century, this five-hour HBO miniseries tells the story of an honorable Englishman coping with his growing disillusion at the end of a privileged era and the beginning of a new, egalitarian society. As the comfortable certainties of Edwardian England begin to give way to the chaos and destruction of WWI, nobleman Christopher Tietjens puts principles first by marrying Sylvia, a pretty, manipulative socialite who gives birth to a child who may not be his. Christopher endures his new wife's whims and overt indiscretions, foreseeing a cold future with Sylvia at his family's palatial estate, Groby Hall. He finds himself inexorably drawn to a young suffragette, Valentine Wannop, but refuses to give in to their mutual passion or end his marriage with Sylvia, who is alternately infuriated and infatuated by her incorruptible husband. The onset of war, combined with the advent of feminism at home, ushers in far-reaching changes for the English status quo, gradually eroding the constraints that have kept Christopher tethered to his aristocratic past.

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d
DWIGHT A GREEN
Mar 11, 2016

I'll confess up front: I'm a huge fan of the novels by Ford Madox Ford that make up the "Parade's End" series. The first three books of the series look at England just before, during, and after World War I as well as what trench warfare was like on the Western Front. A few quick notes on the video adaptation:

Tom Stoppard did an admirable job translating the novels to the screen. (FYI—"The Last Post" was not included in this adaptation.) So much of the books come from the characters’ interior world which had to be converted to dialogue and invented scenes, all of which have to be plausible for the work to hold up. Even anachronistic scenes—flappers in 1917/18?—work since in this case the point was to highlight the differences between the fighting and home fronts.

The cast was superb. Benedict Cumberbatch portrayed Christopher Tietjens in a much more vulnerable light than I had pictured from the novels. Rebecca Hall did the impossible and made Sylvia Tietjens a likeable character despite her torture of Chrisotpher. One thing that came through well was that Christopher’s beliefs and actions were a torture to Sylvia. Since we aren’t privy to Christopher’s interior world, Stoppard does a great job of shaping how we see the character through the eyes of others. Adelaide Clemens captured Valentine Wannop completely and the cast beyond that triangle were pitch-perfect as well.

The only real complaint I have is that the sex scenes (brief though they are) are gratuitous and unneeded. The biggest compliment I think I can give to the adaptation is that I want to read the novels again.

c
cheadlebeagle
Sep 20, 2015

Fantastic show. As usual the acting was great and Benedict was lovely!!

c
calvoer
Aug 10, 2015

Brilliant, and so British it will make your toes curl. The story flies along at quite a fast clip though, with constant allusions to things of that period that I could only guess at. I scrambled to fill in the blanks by using the subtitle function, which helped somewhat.

s
srumfeldt
May 07, 2015

An engrossing dvd which has drama, suspense, and droll comedy. You have to look for the comedy but it is there. I loved it.

s
StopHarperNow
Mar 15, 2015

The dialogue and story are really bad which is quite a shame since the actors, sets and everything else are all excellent. Benedict Cumberbatch does a valiant job trying to save this movie from being a complete waste of time - but sadly it is.

t
tenet
Mar 08, 2015

Rated 2/10.

g
GrinMore
Jan 02, 2015

The most interesting aspect of this miniseries was Benedict Cumberbatch playing a character who was not somewhere on the autism spectrum. It's a blatant attempt to capitalize on the success of Downton Abbey, with lots of footage of the clothes, automobiles and homes of the ultra wealthy trying to cope with the changes to the British society and economy in the years leading up to the first world war. Superimposed on all of this was a failed attempt to make it steamier and sexier which only made it seamier and unbelievable.

xaipe Dec 29, 2014

This series is an adaptation by Tom Stoppard of Ford Madox Ford’s novel set in the early 20th century portraying the complicated life of an English aristocrat during and after WWI. The main character’s strong sense of honor acts as a brake to his emotional life to a degree which would be comically absurd in the hands of a lesser writer and actor. Benedict Cumberbatch portrays the central character Christopher Tiejens, Rebecca Hall is his heel-kicking, unconventional wife. One of the best parts for me was Rufus Sewell, almost unrecognizable as the quietly insane Reverend Duchemin. Sewell is slyly and unexpectedly hilarious in the part. This is a leisurely series without the tightly plotted, flashy portrayals of Downton Abbey, but I preferred it. Benedict Cumberbatch gets better in each part, and if he can manage to avoid being cast as Dr. Who, is likely to become one of Britain’s best actors. Recommended.

j
Janice21383
Oct 14, 2014

Tom Stoppard's adaptation of the book Dorothy Parker couldn't bring close to her heart, because the main characters were named Christopher Tietjens and Valentine Wannop. The story, which is the old, not so good one about the principled man tied to the wicked woman, is spiced up by unconventional by-play and colourful characters. There are some fine performances from the wildly overqualified cast, including Rebecca Hall and Benedict Cumberbatch (what is with these names?) Unfortunately, the CT character is mostly dreary and humourless, and VW is worse. She has little characterization aside from Spunky Suffragette, and even that goes out the window when her love affair with CT reduces her to the Woman Who Waits. She compounds the offense by becoming a games mistress, who, without irony, teaches young girls field hockey, and fights for their right to read bad porn. Overall, worth a watch, but you may agree with Miss Parker that the only character you will miss is the glamourous, devilish Sylvia. See also Anne_Louise_2000's review, below.

c
chloe33
Oct 01, 2014

This film perfectly portrays the slow moving progress of society and industry. It is a different beast from the book so if you are looking for that it may disappoint. The main character Christopher Teijens is perfectly portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch putting a solid performance of a man who has deep principles that are very difficult to change. Cumberbatch gives Christopher the sort of subtlety this brilliantly educated man needs in the face of industrial and societal change which he cannot abide. . Rebecca Hall is just as riveting as his wife who hates his principled way of life as well as his perfectionism as she is embracing these changes and would like to move forward into the new age. I found Christopher to be an intensely riveting character as he falls in love with a young Valentine Wannup a suffragette . I too agree that the actress looks a bit young but it may be that look of innocence in a new and tumltous age that attracts our dear mr. Teitjens.

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