The Windmere Children, a television movie, takes place just after World War II. Britain has taken in 1000 child survivors of the Holocaust. 300 of these children are taken to an estate in England to recover. They are traumatized, both physically and emotionally. They are also most likely the only survivors from their families. It is up to the adults around them to help them become children again. Played by Romola Garai, Iain Glenn, and Thomas Kretschmann, the therapists and teachers are doing everything they can to help their charges begin to heal.
World on Fire is a miniseries that tells the story of ordinary people whose lives are turned upside down by the war. Starring Helen Hunt, Jonah Hauer-King, and Sean Bean, this miniseries follows a group of individuals from various countries as they face the dangerous realities of war. Hauer-King’s character is a young man from Britain in love with two women. Hunt plays an American journalist trying to do her job in Europe as the shadow of war grows ever closer. Bean’s character is a working-class father doing the best he can to take care of his children.
I loved both. The Windemere Children is both heartbreaking and uplifting. World on Fire stands out because it tells the stories of ordinary people who must do extraordinary things to survive.
In the new movie, The Song of Names (based on the book of the same name by Norman Lebrecht), Martin (Tim Roth) and Dovidl (Clive Owen) were as close as brothers when they were boys. But Dovidl’s past and his secrets have torn their relationship apart.
Their first meeting comes as World War II is on the horizon. As a young boy, Dovidl (Luke Doyle) is a wunderkind on the violin. But he is a Jew living in Warsaw. His talent takes him to England and a shared bedroom with Martin (Misha Handley). After the war is over, the boys are now young men (now played by Jonah Hauer-King and Gerran Howell) and are as close as ever. But as Dovidl becomes known as a music prodigy, he must also grapple with his faith and the fate of the family he left behind in Poland.
Decades later, Martin is searching for his friend, who has all but vanished. Can he find Dovidl and discover the secrets that he carries with him?
I loved this movie. I loved it because at its heart is a story of friendship that starts during a tumultuous time in history. As the years pass and the reality of their world is exposed, both Martin and Dovidl must grapple with their experiences. I also loved the ending. It was not a happy ending as Hollywood would see fit, but it worked for the movie.
The 2018 movie, Ashes in the Snow (based on the book Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys) takes place during World War II. Lina (Bel Powley) is an average teenage girl living in Lithuania with her family. She is also a gifted young artist with a dream and the potential to see that dream become a reality.
Then Lina, her family and thousands of others are deported to Siberia. It is her art and her growing relationship with Andrius (Jonah Hauer-King) that provides a sense of normalcy in a situation that is as far from normal as one can get. Will Lina survive or will she perish with thousands of others?
I read this book previously, so I had an idea of what was coming. The movie is just as good as the book. It is a story that within the genre of World War II stories, is not told as often as it should be. Granted, like many book to movie adaptations, the film does not match the book scene for scene. However, that does not detract from the power of this story and the strength of this young girl who finds the will to survive when many did not.
Stepping into the shoes of the immortal March sisters is Willa Fitzgerald (Meg), Maya Hawke (Jo), Annes Elwy (Beth) and Kathryn Newton (Amy). Emily Watson plays Marmee and Jonah Hauer-King plays Laurie, Jo’s bestie/the boy next door.
I have mixed feelings about the first episode. Written by Heidi Thomas (best known as creator and show runner of Call The Midwife) was tasked with quite a challenge: condense the narrative as it is in the novel into a miniseries. While she hit all of the right narrative notes (including not making the story too sweet and allowing all four of the March sisters to share the spotlight), I just felt like something was missing. While I completely understand this is a miniseries and not a feature-length film (but then again, not all film adaptations of beloved books adhere 100% to the narrative in the source material), I just feel like something is missing.
Do I recommend it? Possibly yes.
Episodes two and three consecutively on May 20th at 8pm EST on PBS.