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Parade's End - BBC/HBO's answer to Downton Abbey?
There's No business like War business
Parade's End is a new TV Drama series commissioned by BBC and HBO jointly. It will premier on Friday the 24th of August 2012 on BBC2. The extraordinary international success of ITV's Costume Drama Downton Abbey was bound to spawn some competition, and many are claiming this will be it. The reasons for such comparisons are the fact that both are sumptuously produced big budget costume Dramas that cover the same time period. However, many claim while Downton Abbey deals with adult themes rather tamely and aims for the family viewing market( there's no sex or violence), Parade's End deals with themes up of adultery and passion during wartime in a more 'full frontal' way!
This sweeping drama takes us from the glorious English countryside to the fashionable Paris suburbs, the higher echelons of English society to the explosions of the battlefield.
The series is based on the classic novel series 'Parade's End' and the screenplay has been written by none other than the talented playwright Sir Tom Stoppard. He won an Oscar for his work on 'Shakespeare in Love'. Stoppard was actually commissioned to write the screenplay long before Downton Abbey arrived on our screens.
It has a stellar cast , headlined by Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock (TV), War Horse, Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy.) and Rebecca Hall ( The Prestige, Vicky Christina Barcelona).
Ford Madox Ford's linked novels that comprise 'Parade's End' Tetralogy have been hailed by many as one of the greatest works of 20th century English literature and is ranked 57 in the Modern Library's 100 best novels list.
Unusual for a novel set in that period and written in 1924-28, Ford captures the inner turmoils and the emotional war between his characters while using the actual physical war as a backdrop.
He uses his story to peel back layers of glossy social class pretensions to reveal deeper motivations - greed, adultery, jealousy, pride he pretty much visits the seven deadly sins in its scope. The author himself enlisted at the age of 41 and was sent to France with the Welch regiment ( originally Welsh Regiment) and his combat experiences provided him for much of the material for Parade's End.
Ford Madox Ford's other works include 'The Good Soldier (1915)' and 'The Fifth Queen Trilogy'(1906-08) - both these works are also critically acclaimed like 'Parade's End'
Parade's End Tetralogy
The first novel Some Do not revolves around the married couple Christopher and Sylvia Tietjens - him a brilliant statistician and civil servant who can see through the pretentiousness of the class, straight talking and upright in his views and ethics.
Sylvia, a cold, calculating, manipulative yet passionate soul who likes him as a possession but saves her passion for many other men. She is frustrated by her inability to truly control her own husband like she could other men.Christopher then meets wild child and suffragette Valentine Wannop in Paris and discovers parts of him that he never knew existed.
The second and third novels 'No more parades' and ' A man could stand up' concentrate on Christopher's experiences and subsequent return from the front, while following the paths of Sylvia and Valentine. The fourth novel ' Last Post' is mainly a series of monologues and viewpoints set in a single summers day that draws all the thread to a close in the aftermath of the war.
The 'Parade' in the title refers to the complex moral and ethical code held by Christopher that stops him from divorcing his wife despite coming to know of her adulterous relationship and even not knowing with certainty whether their child is his. His moral code is fiercely tested by the war and its aftermath as well as his attraction to Valentine.
The TV Series
Jointly produced by BBC Worldwide and HBO with a lavish budget and high production values, the media comparisons to Downton Abbey are perhaps unfounded. Parade's End is a much more complex structurally and emotionally, it deals with themes of class and effect, war and its aftermath as well as darker tones of adultery and pretentiousness.
The Hero is a straight laced statistician whose moral code is tested time and again throughout the story line. While the countryhouse setting and the period may be the same, Parade's end may well have set its ambitions on classy, self contained period drama than a high class- albeit addictive- soap like Downton Abbey.
The series is set to be broadcast on BBC2 in UK from Friday the 24th of August and is set to be a 5 part miniseries.
Cast & Crew
Benedict Cumberbatch ( Sherlock, War Horse)
Rebecca Hall ( Vicky Christina Barcelona)
Stephen Graham ( Boardwalk Empire)
Roger Allam (Game of Thrones)
Jack Huston ( Boardwalk Empire)
Rufus Sewell (Dark City )
Miranda Richardson (Harry Potter series)
Janet McTeer (Damages)
Sir Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love, Anna Karenina))
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© Mohan Kumar 2012