A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Parade's End is a British period drama miniseries with some graphic war scenes and sexual content. The war story is secondary to that of a conflicted aristocrat torn between two women and opposing sets of ideals, and subsequently action usually takes a backseat to character development. Later episodes in the five-part series feature war scenes with bloody violence, death, and palpable tension in the trenches. A woman's philandering ways yield bedroom encounters that show adults kissing, removing clothing, and briefly baring the woman's breasts. Expect some strong language ("bitch," "Goddammit," "whore") and immoral actions on the part of many adults. Ultimately, though, all of this sets the stage for the protagonist's emergence as a shining example of honesty and high principles in a world of crumbling ethics.
What's the story?
Set in early 20th-century England, PARADE'S END tells the story of aristocrat Christopher Tietjens (Benedict Cumberbatch), an upstanding Englishman clinging to high morals that seem to be fading from the lives of those around him. Stuck in a loveless marriage to Sylvia (Rebecca Hall), who uses him for his status, but prefers to keep a string of lovers, Christopher's sense of duty keeps him from leaving his philandering wife. Meanwhile his ideals puzzle his associates, cost him his job, and threaten his chance at true happiness with a strong-willed suffragette named Valentine (Adelaide Clemens). As the world around him dissolves with the onset of the First World War, Christopher enlists, leaving behind his wife, their child, and the faithful Valentine as he heeds his sense of duty to the battles in Europe.
Is it any good?
Efficient writing and a capable cast that complements marvelous performances by Cumberbatch and his two female leads mark this superb miniseries. There's something for everyone here -- family drama, deception, true love, dramatic moments of war, and emotional victories -- and it's impossible not to root for the honorable man at the heart of it all. Because of the story's historical setting and adult themes, it's best suited for mature teens and adults.
Based on the novels by Ford Madox Ford and brought to the screen by writer Tom Stoppard, Parade's End follows the evolution of the conflicted Christopher, who wrestles with his loyalties to a noble past and the weight of the present turmoil in his life. Every aspect of his life is a virtual tug-of-war, from the delicate balance between responsibility to his adulterous wife and his undeniable affection for Valentine, to his changing role in a society shifting away from Edwardian policies. Christopher's journey is beautifully displayed on the European backdrop of the First World War era in this gorgeous five-part series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Family members can talk about their value systems. What ideals are absolutes for you? How do you handle being in the company of other people who don’t hold to your beliefs? How do your media choices reflect these values?
Christopher often teeters between his sense of duty and his visions of happiness. Would you have made different choices in his place? Has our society lost its sense of responsibility toward others?
Why do you think this story warranted a miniseries rather than a feature-length film? What freedoms did the writers have in this form that might not exist on the big screen? Do stories like this one stand a chance to succeed among genres like comedy and action?
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