BBC One’s wartime drama World on Fire concluded last week, after seven riveting and deeply moving episodes. The drama immersing its audience in the horrors of fascism, the bravery of rebellion and the darkness of war, while also providing us with stunning cinematography, performances and direction.
In a similar vein to the outstanding 2013 German TV drama Generation War (Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter). World on Fire surrounds us with the normality of life, love and family as the world slowly crumbles into darkness. Allowing the audience to identify and feel the journey of its characters as the terror of fascism creeps across Europe. The blood, grit, hate and destruction of war vivid and real in construct. While the innocence of youth combines with the realities of conflict and death.
Writer Peter Bowker sets out his stall from the opening scenes of Oswald Mosley’s far-right rallies in 1939 Manchester. The plague of fascism not limited to the creation of the German Third Reich. Its tentacles spreading far and wide across Europe, as people looked for others to blame.
It is here that World on Fire speaks to our modern society throughout its seven episodes. Reminding us all that racism, homophobia, disablism and hate lead to destruction and terror when left unchallenged. The dangers of allowing sleeping hatred a platform all too clear in global history.
World on Fire gives voice to those who stood up against the rising tide of hate from all backgrounds. Those who risked their lives to combat oppression both within the armed forces and civilian life. In particular, giving voice to the Polish people who bravely stood up against the early rise and march of nazism across Europe. While placing the diversity of those who fought for freedom centre stage. Ensuring that the colour, culture and lives of those who stood up against fascism is honoured and portrayed from all sides. Equally this is a drama unafraid to explore the mental effects of war on those who fought. The complexities of conflict on the individual shown on screen in an unflinching and real depiction of the human cost of war.
World on Fire excels in its performances from a leading cast who emote the fear, confusion and horror of conflict. Never allowing their characters to fall into clichés. The normality of each individual character shining through a horrifying haze of war and rebellion. Their bravery and selflessness mixed with apprehension, fear, emotion and confusion.
World on Fire is emotional, heartfelt and real. It’s dramatic footprint not only bringing the horror of war to life. But also providing a warning as to how easily propaganda, oppression and hate can lead to darkness and terror. The bravery of those who stood up against the tide of fascism acting as an echo to the challenges of our modern world. One where we all have a duty to ensure the darkness of hate never returns.
BBC / Mammoth Screen 2019
World on Fire is available now on BBC iPlayer
World on Fire is also available to purchase via streaming services
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