During World War Two the Germans succeeded in invading British
soil, when, on the 30 June 1940, the islands of Guernsey and
Jersey came under occupation. The Occupation lasted until
the 09 May 1945, and although many of the Islanders fled before
the oncoming army, those that were left behind were to suffer
the privations of an island at war...
at War (2004), directed by Peter Lydon and written by
Stephen Mallatratt, took a naturalist look at this often overlooked
part of our history by concentrating on its effects on three
main families the Dorrs, the Jonas's and the Mahys. The show
won the RTS Television award for best visual effects from
the Royal Television Society.
had previously written The Forsyte Saga and this idea
of examining the minutiae of relationships set against a period
piece is reflected in this project. That is not to say that
the story ignores the larger picture and each of the six episodes
present a nice balance between the personal and the larger
war which forms its backdrop. For some unknown reason Mallatratt
chose to set the series on the fictional island of St Gregory
instead of Jersey or Guernsey.
three families are chosen to show the occupations effects
across the social strata. The Dorrs are an upper class family,
the Mahys, middle class and the Jonas's working class. Although
each family is headed by a male the story is more often than
not told from the perspective of the women who had to suffer
weak husbands and sexual harassment from the German troops.
Dorrs are headed by James (James Wilby), who plays a pivotal
role in the running of the island, whose wife is less than
happily married. Only the invasion stops Felicity (Clare Holman)
from leaving him. Cassie Mahy (Saskia Reeves) is the strong
matriarchic head of her family, running the grocery shop,
that she had inherited, and dealing with her lackadaisical
husband. Wilf Jonas is a full-time policeman and part-time
fisherman, helping to supplement the family's limited food
course no war series would be complete without a bad guy and
in this case it is Baron Heinrich Von Rheingarten played by
Philip Glenister, who balances his performance well to portray
a man who although fair, is also merciless when he needs to
the series starts off strong, but for some reason, seems to
end prematurely, you get the feeling that the writer just
reached episode six and thought 'sod it' and just ended it.
This meant that a lot of the minor story arcs and a few of
the major ones are left unresolved. It might be that, if successful,
another mini series would have been made, we may never know,
but it kind of leaves you with an unfulfilled feeling.
said, the series looks great and the acting is uniformly good.
The print is a nice 16:9 transfer with Dolby 2 channel audio.
I was actually expecting the discs to have no extras, so was
pleasantly surprised to discover them on disc one. Although
you could quibble because they are all text based, at least
Acorn have provided more than you would expect. To place the
series in context there is six pages of historical background.
More impressively there are the thoughts of eight of the main
actors, most are only a couple of pages long, but at least
it's better than nothing. Lastly you have a picture gallery
and the filmographies of ten of the actors.
television is awash with World War II series, this is still
one worth catching up with. Pity about the ending though.