All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr was an unexpected bestseller in 2014 when it was released. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, spend more than 200 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list, and sell more than 15 million copies worldwide. The highly renowned historical epic now has a four-part limited series adaption available on Netflix, some ten years after it first debuted.

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About All the Light We Cannot See

These days, with so much of what we watch on TV being dedicated to war news, you might not want to go for a written drama about war, even the long-ago World War II, or even a narrative based on the very acclaimed novel by Anthony Doerr. However, the recently released four-hour Netflix miniseries, All the Light We Cannot See, is encouraging and worthwhile. The word “Light” in the title alludes to optimism amid the tragedy and gloom of war.

The story of All the Light We Cannot See is narrated from several points of view and in multiple time periods, building to a climax when everything is resolved inexplicably. Two young children, a German boy named Werner and a French girl named Marie-Laure, are the major protagonists. He is a master tinkerer who learns how to construct and fix all kinds of radios. In addition to being blind, she finds radio to be fascinating as she tunes in every night to a kid-focused shortwave show conducted by an enigmatic ham operator going by the name of the Professor.

The professor’s words of encouragement inspire Marie-Laure in Paris, and Werner, back in Germany, is also moved by them. Werner intercepts the same broadcasts from his orphanage before to being compelled to serve the Nazis.

Older actors eventually assume the roles of these main characters. Now a teenager, Louis Hofmann portrays Werner, who has been trained by the Nazis and sent to track out unauthorized radio operators. And following the Nazi conquest, Marie-Laure, now portrayed by Aria Mia Loberti, leaves Paris on foot with her bags in tow. Her father Daniel, a museum director portrayed by Mark Ruffalo, is in charge of her and is sneaking away some priceless artifacts.

After a long trip as refugees, they arrive at the seaside village of Saint-Malo, where Hugh Laurie’s character, Marie-Laure’s uncle Etienne, is a part of the French resistance. Werner, the young Nazi, is eventually dispatched there to find unlicensed radio operators. And Marie-Laure chooses to follow suit after learning the location of the hidden studio where the Professor used to transmit his boldly upbeat messages.

This puts Werner—whose troubled conscience is one of the best aspects of All the Light We Cannot See—as well as Marie-Laure’s father in danger as they are pursued by other Nazis. Although Laurie’s character, an agoraphobic war veteran, is also heartwarming, Loberti’s portrayal of Marie-Laure is the most poignant and compelling.

I was unaware that Loberti was legally blind until I finished watching all four hours of this Netflix drama. Like the young woman she plays, Loberti is also legally blind. This is her first professional acting role. I continue to be astounded by how confidently and skillfully this relative newbie handles the responsibility of her major part. When they cast this remarkable unknown, co-creators Shawn Levy and Steven Knight—who also directed and scripted the miniseries—did more than merely fill a challenging role. They also stumbled onto a fresh, gifted performer.

What takes place in the novel All the Light We Cannot See

The French port city of Saint-Malo becomes the refuge for 12-year-old Marie-Laure and her father Daniel (played by Mark Ruffalo in the show) as they escape soon-to-be Nazi-occupied Paris in 1940. Daniel’s uncle Etienne, a reclusive World War I veteran suffering from PTSD, and his housekeeper, Madame Manec (Marion Bailey), also accompany them. Unbeknownst to his daughter, Daniel has brought with him a fabled diamond known as the Sea of Flames, a valuable and purportedly cursed gem from the natural history museum in Paris where he works, in order to keep it out of Nazi hands.

Meanwhile, 14-year-old Werner, who grew up listening to Etienne’s radio show, is taken from his younger sister Jutta (Luna Wedler) and enrolled in the National Institute, a harsh and exclusive Nazi military school, after he proved he was an engineer by fixing a Nazi official’s radio. When Werner is sixteen, he enlists in the German army and is put on a task group tasked with tracking down and suppressing anti-German radio broadcasts. Despite his reluctance, Werner proves to be an excellent performer in this capacity.

Two years later, in the months after D-Day, Marie-Laure and Werner cross paths in Saint-Malo as the Allied Forces bombard the city in an effort to drive out the Germans. As the bombs go off, Marie-Laure, who is stranded alone in her great-uncle Etienne’s attic, starts speaking on Etienne’s radio. After hearing Marie-Laure, Werner—who has been given the task of locating the broadcast signal—must make a crucial decision.

In the meantime, the stone has been followed all the way to Saint-Malo by Nazi official and Sea of Flames expert Sergeant Major Reinhold von Rumpel (Lars Eidinger), who will do whatever it takes to obtain it.

How the Netflix original series alters the novel All the Light We Cannot See

Many of the major characters in Netflix’s All the Light We Cannot See had their lives altered, including Werner, Etienne, and Daniel.

In the book, which took Doerr ten years to write, Daniel is detained in late 1940 while trying to return to Paris on treasonous accusations. around being sent to a German prison camp, he passes away there some time around 1943. In the episode, von Rumpel murders and tortures Daniel himself in an effort to discover where he concealed the Sea of Flames. Daniel places the stone, which is supposed to offer its bearer immortality at the expense of excruciating pain for all of their loved ones, into the scale model of saint Malo.


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