Period

I sincerely do not know to what extent my opinion about Parade’s End is influenced by my cumberobsession, so your job here will be to decide by yourself.

I look in the general direction of Parade’s End with favour for a number of reasons, the first one being of course the fact that its airing is bringing a lovely cumberwave of cumberthings. Secondly, Stoppard. Period.

Thirdly, as much as I enjoy Downton Abbey, I seem to be incapable of developing a genuine passion for it, so I think it will be nice to have another period drama around, maybe one I can relate to more easily. As it happens, I’ve always liked the work of Ford Madox Ford, so this could be a treat.

To sum up, an author I appreciate, a writer I trust completely, an actor I’m currently obsessed with, what do you think?

I was very curious, and I little worried I have to say, about the screenplay. As I said, I trust Stoppard completely, nevertheless the structure of the novel is challenging, in terms of tv adaptation. Ford’s modernist technique draws a profoundly good, humorous his way, maddeningly stubborn, deeply vulnerable Tietjens by following him during work with friend Macmaster, travel, social life, while the key facts of his personal life are barely mentioned, how he met Sylvia, why he married her, how exactly they drifted apart to the present nasty-telegram stage. This is completely unsuitable for a tv miniseries format. So Stoppard had to fill in the missing scenes, necessarily, but of course the style of the novel got a little lost in the process, and the result is I regret to say, somehow more conventional. The director tried to compensate by deconstructing the image prismatically, to suggest a cubist note, which was clever, but didn’t come across as completely satisfying to me.

In any case, the final sequence is very beautiful, under all aspects, from a literary point of view, technically, visually, emotionally.

Of course I found the cast terrific. Rebecca Hall as Sylvia is perfect.Adelaide Clemens as Valentine is perfect. Cumberbatch is fantastic. They gave him a ridiculous fat suit and cheek plumpers to wear so you can’t really understand what he says (or at least I can’t, be it the Yorkshire accent, me being a little hear impaired and not a native speaker obviously), so Tietjens is really there, especially when he speaks, with all his strong beliefs and physical clumsiness.

In my opinion, the first episode of Parade’s End is undeniably good.

Yet it wasn’t enough to make me stare at the tv in utter amazement. Not that I was really expecting that. But still, I was kind of hoping, because you know, I love Chrissie, and now that he is alive and cumberbatch-y I want everything in his world to be perfect. By which I mean, terrifying and sad and contradictory and wildly romantic.

Let’s see next Friday then.

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