Sunday, October 19, 2014

Island at War Shows What the British Channel Islands Endured During German Occupation

I went through a range of emotions whilst watching this 6-hour TV series on Netflix. Shame, sympathy, shock, elation. I shook my head, cheered, gasped, cursed people's stupidity, nodded...

The show follows 3 different families and a handful of German soldiers. Though a fictional island, it's based on the happenings during the real Channel Islands' invasion. Due to its low population, England has abandoned it, rid it of all military occupation, and left it for the German clutches. It's too close to France...

Normally I'm all about the women, be it a book or a movie, but this time I was taken more with the men in this show. Wilf, the police officer who finds himself tested repeatedly. He must protect his family, maintain his dignity when the Germans seem too eager to bring him down, and he visibly battles with what he feels is wrong and right. He toes the line very carefully between outright disobedience and doing as he's told. He does this in such a manner that I was cheering for him even when he was "taken down a few pegs".  He manages to do his job while at the same time, making it clear where he stands: with the island.

The Senator. At first I found him cowardly, but in the end, I loved how he tells the people, "We must must keep our humanity." I also loved how he fought for his wife. I didn't expect that.

And there's another man, he seems bad at first; he's playing both sides, but in the end it's not necessarily what goes in his pockets. Though fond of money, without his special "powers" he wouldn't be able to help the local spy. It becomes very clear where his real loyalties lie. Artfully done.

I did not like any of the women, and that's a big flaw. The producers/directors/whoever really did us wrong in this one. While I admired the Jew for hiding in plain sight, at the same time I disliked her socializing with a German soldier. While she kept spurning his advances, at the same time, why did she go out with him at all? And the two sisters, declaring these Germans were merely human too....singing and dancing and kissing them after they executed a man. I'm afraid I didn't care for the young pilot and his declaring "You're stupid." There's a mother whose staunch refusal to serve Germans in her store evaporated into a business requiring her to meet a German in his room and profiting off her own people...and more that I shan't mention. The only remotely admirable woman is Wilf's wife.

Regardless, I became very wrapped up in all their lives. There are plenty of touching moments of rebellion too, such as when the town stands in silence, facing German rifles, to honor the executed man. And of course, there's the story of war, a reminder that it's not glamorous, that it's brutal and cruel, and in the end, there are no true victors. I don't appreciate being left hanging as to the complete outcome of these people's lives though. The war wasn't over when the series ended. If you aren't going to make a second season, at least wrap everything up the first time. Grrrr!

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