Tag Archives: Henriette Guilbert

World on Fire Character Review: Henriette Guilbert

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. During World War II, as the noose was growing tighter around Europe’s Jewish community, choices had to be made. Some chose to adapt to the new normal as best they could. Others tried to leave via whatever means were open to them. A third group hid, whether in plain sight or away from prying eyes. On World on Fire, Henriette Guilbert (Eugénie Derouand) is a Jewish woman hiding in plain sight.

Working as a nurse with American doctor Webster O’Connor (Brian J. Smith), Henriette has kept her religion to herself. But as she grows closer to Webster and begins to fall in love with him, she decides that it is worth the risk to reveal that she is Jewish. When the Nazis are start to target French POWs, Henriette joins forces with Webster to get as many of them out of the country as possible.

Given her present situation, the easiest thing to do would have been to let fear take over. Henriette knows what could potentially happen to her if she is caught. But she is willing to put that aside. In our faith, there is a saying “those who save one life saves the entire world”.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, History, Television

World on Fire Character Review: Webster O’Connor

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. The truth of human sexuality is that it has always been a spectrum. But for most of our time on Earth, the only acceptable sexual relationship has been between a man and a woman. It is only in the last few decades (depending on where one lives) that members of the LGBTQ community are free to live and love as they want to.

On World on Fire, Webster O’Connor (Brian J. Smith) is an American doctor working and living in Paris as World War II rumbles on the horizon. He is also gay. Before the Germans invade the country, Webster is able to live openly as a gay man (well, as much as one could back then). Happily involved with Albert Fallou (Parker Sawyers), Webster does not listen to his aunt, Nancy Campbell (Helen Hunt) when she strongly recommends that he return to the States.

Then the Battle of France happens and Webster is stuck behind enemy lines. As both an American and a member of the LGBTQ community, he knows how dangerous it is to remain in France. But his Caucasian complexion and his assumed Christian faith have so far kept Webster off of the Nazi’s radar. Feeling that he has to do something, Webster and his colleague/nurse Henriette Guilbert (Eugénie Derouand), hatch a plan to get prisoners of war out of France before the Nazis can get their hands on them.

To sum it up: I suspect that many people in Webster’s situation would have taken his aunt’s advice. Having stayed for love, Webster is completely aware of the situation he is now in. But. he also knows that doing his part to save lives is dangerous. Having the courage to do that makes him a hero in my book.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, History, Television