Mini Series: Parade’s End Review

Parade's End, Benedict CumberbacthDespite University commitments, work (earning moniesss) and my very (non-existent) busy social life, I have found time to watch a few TV shows, movies and do some pleasure reading!

The 2012 BBC Two, five-part adaptation of Ford Maddox Ford’s Parade’s End is set in the final days of Edwardian England through the First World War and follows Christopher Tietjens (Benedict Cumberbatch) journey in a love triangle in a cruel marriage to socialite Sylvia (Rebecca Hall) and love affair with suffragette Valentine (Adelaide Clemens).


Christopher Tietjen’s a Tory civil servant who works for the Department of Imperial Statistics struggles to battle not only in the Great War but to accept the evolution of society and leave traditions behind moving into modernity. Cumberbatch displays a compassionate endearing man who is secure within his own monogamous values and divorced from the unravelling changes in society. There is a strange comical-irony between husband and wife, as Tietjen’s wife Sylvia is known for her adulterous ways. However with his wife loitering around society, running away with any man who will take her just to get a kick out of her husband Tietjen’s morals are broken down over time and he soon falls for a beautiful young suffragette – Valentine Wannop.


Tietjen’s nobility is difficult to digest and watch and can be perceived as a self-inflicted torture. His high-strung morals deny him happiness and  Benedict’s portrayal of a man who exercises inhumane patience and self-control to the constant rumours about his love life, his loyalty to his wife and supposed affairs is sensational. He is poised but compelling and captures the audiences greatest sympathy. In the series finale, we see Tietjen’s take command and bravely unites with his comrades under fire.


Aside from Romance, the Edwardian class structure is very influential and is clearly demonstrated among the characters within the mini- series. McMaster’s and Christopher Tietjen’s once great friends are all but strangers by Tietjen’s return from War,  their divide is eloquently demonstrated on-screen as Tientjen’s and McMaster’s acknowledge each other standing in their own homes behind glass now  different men. McMaster’s achievement of a status that Christopher Tietjen’s was born into and Tietjen’s achieving comradery and finding true happiness in a loving relationship with Miss. Valentine demonstrate the reversal of roles between the two men. However despite McMaster’s status Tietjen’s contentment is organic, pure, long-awaited and rich in ways McMaster’s new wealth and status can’t provide.

The raw emotions raised during the finale of the mini-series upon conclusion leaves a sense of wonderment, of travelling through a long-lost journey. Parade’s End portrays a journey of friendship and love through tribulation and hardships set in a society that is being changed by inside out by consumerism and modernity.