Christopher is in Rouen with his godfather General Campion and the unbalanced McKechnie,his job being to kit out fresh troops for the front. His desire to see that the men are humanely treated brings...
Sylvia returns to Christopher,largely for the financial security and attends his mother's funeral,where her showy appearance shocks the mourners. Realising she is reviled she goes to a retreat but is...
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Story is set against the backdrop of WWI and follows Christopher Tietjens, a top civil servant from a background of wealth and privilege, whose marriage flounders almost as soon as it begins. He falls in love with another woman, but he remains honorable for some considerable time to Sylvia who has several affairs. On top of this, Chris is dealing with shell shock and partial memory loss that he endures during the war. Written by
Surprisingly Powerful and Sympathetic Costume Drama
Set in the early twentieth century, PARADE'S END revolves round a love-triangle involving Christopher Tietjens (Benedict Cumberbatch), his wife Sylvia (Rebecca Hall) and Tietjens' mistress Valentine Wannop (Adelaide Clemens). With a screenplay ably written by Tom Stoppard, director Susanna White situates this story in the repressive world of bourgeois England, where appearances matter and emotions should be kept hidden at all costs. So long as people "seem" to be respectable, then everyone will be happy. Tietjens tries his best to maintain such (false) standards, but the experience proves too much for him, especially in the later episodes when he goes to fight in France and falls foul of just about everyone. In Hall's performance, Sylvia reminds me of the characters in Scott Fitzgerald's THE GREAT GATSBY in the sense that she seems hell-bent on destroying those around her. She refuses to play the social games required of her, and spends much of her time deceiving her husband. Valentine remains faithful throughout despite her mother's (Miranda Richardson's) entreaties, proving beyond doubt that love can conquer all. Martin Childs' production design is a wonder to behold, particularly in the scenes set in the First World War, where he manages to recreate the atmosphere of desperate squalor in the trenches, contrasted with the elaborate formality of life back in Groby Hall, Yorkshire. In the context of the First World War, British bourgeois life in the Hall seems symptomatic of a lost world. In the new world following the conclusion of the War, the characters can no longer rely on old certainties; they have to determine their own lives. Cumberbatch is particularly good at communicating this altered view: through a series of close-ups we watch his features harden as he finally rejects Sylvia and embraces a new life in his deserted London apartment. It might not have the opulence of his past life, but at least he can be himself. The narrative zips along at a brisk pace, offering viewers a lesson in changing values in British history as well as telling a thoroughly compelling tale. Definitely worth repeated viewings.
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