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Western Animation / Ethel & Ernest

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Ethel & Ernest is a British animated biographical film directed by Roger Mainwood. The film is based on the graphic memoir of the same name written by Raymond Briggs, and follows Briggs' parents, Ethel and Ernest, through their period of marriage from the 1920s to their deaths in the 1970s. It was broadcast on television on BBC One on 28 December 2016.

The film details the marriage of Ethel and Ernest Briggs from the 1920s to the 1970s, as they live through extraordinary events occurring in that period.


Tropes Associated With Ethel & Ernest

  • Adult Fear:
    • The horrors of World War II have Ethel and Ernest face bombings, separated from Raymond so he can be safer, and seeing/hearing about deaths.
    • Raymond and Ernest are unable to do anything as Ethel's senility grows and she eventually dies.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Ethel herself was a maid before her marriage to Ernest, but she tends to hold traditionalist views that often conflict with her working class roots.
  • Dawn of an Era: As Ethel and Ernest's life went on, they experienced many changes occurring throughout Britain. This included the proliferation of technology like stoves and bathrooms among common British households, the societal advances that included homosexual legalization and nationalized infrastructures, and the rise of the welfare state.
  • Downer Ending: Despite the movie and the book being heartwarming, Ethel dies and Ernest follows her shortly afterward. Raymond may be all grown up and married now but has to say goodbye to everything that existed in his childhood home.
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  • End of an Age: Besides the Dawn of an Era, it also marked the ending of Victorian and Edwardian British aspects like the waning influence of traditional British gentry, decreased barriers on social classes, and finally the introduction of the decimal currency.
  • Good Parents: Ethel and Ernest are well-meaning, normal parents.
  • Happily Married: Ethel and Ernest had been married for forty-one years. Ethel's senility and her death were huge blows for Ernest, who still continued the routine as if she was alive just before dying at the same year as her.
  • Hypocrite: When Raymond was a child, Ethel loved his long hair and was saddened when she and Ernest had to cut it off. When Raymond grows out his hair as an adult, she wishes he cut it.
  • I Want Grandkids: When Raymond gets married, Ethel is excited at the prospect of becoming a grandmother...until Raymond explains that Jean having schizophrenia prevents the idea.
  • My Beloved Smother: Downplayed. Ethel wasn't completely overbearing, but she had a tendency to be vocal of what she thought was best for Raymond.
  • Name and Name
  • Nice Guy: Ernest is a charming and cheerful man who deeply loves his wife and son.
  • Odd Couple: Ernest's support for left-wing causes (being a Labour Party supporter) tends to put him at odds with Ethel's traditional views (sympathizing with those of wealthier strata), but this shows their ability to maintain their relationship despite these contentions.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Anytime the cheerful Ernest becomes sullen, it's a serious matter. This includes the horrors of World War II, hearing that a friend lost his son, and Ethel's senility and death.
  • Slice of Life: The movie is entirely about the life of Ethel & Ernest, from the time they met to their unfortunate deaths.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: As Raymond grows up, he begins to resemble Ernest more and more.
  • Together in Death: Downplayed Trope, since Ernest died from a fatal heart attack not long after his wife's death in the same year.
  • What You Are in the Dark: When one of Ernest's friends asks if he could sleep with his wife, Ernest is shocked and refuses.


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