Must See TV: Parade's End

At last I have watched Parade's End (2012)! It first premiered in 2012 via the BBC and then in 2013 via HBO so perhaps some of you have come across it already. When I first learned about it I was immediately hooked but four things-Benedict Cumberbatch, Period Film, Rebecca Hall, and Romance. Oh yeah, that did it for me. And I was not disappointed. It has been a day already since I have seen it and it is still haunting me. I already want to re-watch it to see if I missed or overlooked anything.

There are four parts to this miniseries all based on a book named Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford and published between 1924 and 1928. Episode one of the series shows some flashbacks on how the main character of Christopher Tietjens (Cumberbatch) met and married his wife Sylvia (Hall). You get an insight into their situations in life, their personalities, and their flaws-for which there are many.

Sylvia is pregnant with a child that may or may not be Christopher's. He marries her anyway and keeps his distance from her but is very affectionate to the child. He is quite intelligent and she is nowhere near his intellectual equal. Sylvia has an appetite for life that does not match Christopher's which leads her to having an affair and leaving him. But that's just when things start to warm up. Can you imagine a woman leaving her husband for another man let alone unapologetic about not knowing who the father of her child is? Well, pre-WWI was a different time. Watching this series reminding me how much things have surely changed.

After Sylvia leaves Christopher, in an odd turn of events he mets a young woman named Valentine (Adelaide Clemens) who is a suffragette. She instantly understands him and proves to be a match to his intellect. Their meeting is subtle, sweet, and not thrown in your face as it was when he first met Sylvia. 

Unlike other series from this time period I was surprised to find a tad bit of nudity and a risque sex scene in the very beginning of episode one. I really didn't expect it. You just don't see films of women of that time doing what Sylvia was doing. But that is a fascinating aspect of the story-how each of these woman (Sylvia and Valentine) were not the norm of their society and both wanted to live their lives based on their own judgement and decision and not what society dictated to them. Christopher on the other hand was holding tightly to the concept of a gentleman's duties and doing the right and honorable thing no matter the cost.

By the time I got to episode three I was on pins and needles. Where Valentine and Christopher gong to end up together? Will he die in the trenches of WWI? Does Sylvia really love Christopher or is he just another toy for her to play with? I felt like I was being tortured but it was so worth the wait. A love triangle of sorts ensues and you really don't know who Christopher will choose to be with in the end if their is an end in sight. I like how tastefully done the way Christopher is with Valentine but then again it is a testament to his gentlemen-like qualities.

I only really have three complaints about this series. I don't understand why Valentine's hair was short and she was wearing dresses. I suppose they could have put her in some trousers if she were to be such a rebel. I just didn't get that and it actually distracted me a bit. I wish the characters of Christopher's parents and brother were fleshed out more and that we learned how Michael (Sylvia's son) faired in the end. Lastly, although episode four was splendid, I did feel like it was a bit rushed.

Rebecca Hall was outstanding as Sylvia. Her character was so complex and they took the time to flesh it out and show its strengths and weaknesses which was a joy to watch. What they showed of her literally at the last moments did disappoint me and made me want to know what really became of her. You just feel like you want to know how everything panned out. I know others have felt the ending was rushed as well. I think that's why I want to re-watch it because now that I know what happens perhaps the second time around it won't feel as rushed.

All in all, this was a wonderful piece of work, The writing was fantastic and the cinematography was divine-a feast for the eyes. There was drama and romance and suspense and joy and oh so much. I do recommend to give this miniseries a try and remember to pay attention to how the characters unfold. I placed the photos on this post purposely not in the order of how it is seen on the show because I don't want you to guess how it ends. It is definitely a journey worth going on.

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  1. Good idea on not putting the photos in chronological order. Those, like me, who have yet to see this engaging looking mini series yet certainly thank you! :)

    ♥ Jessica

  2. You always make everything sound so good that I feel like I have to go out and see it now. So much to watch so little time...adding this to the ever growing list


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