Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Home Fires

home-fires-tv-seriesThe reason I began watching this program was because of the stars: Francesca Annis, who though no longer the spritely temptress of Lillie Langtry, still commands the screen and Samantha Bond, who was so appealing in Downton Abbey and as Moneypenny in the Pierce Brosnan era of James Bond. They are two in a likable cast making up the residents of Great Paxford village in England at the beginning of WW2.
The show’s pace may be too slow for some people, but I like the character driven plots. The mood is set by the Enya-like theme song and shots of misty fields and woods. All of the main characters belong to the Women’s Institute, (a name I contrasted with it’s American counterpart, the Junior League) and the first few episodes centered on a power struggle of two strong women competing for President. Joyce Cameron(Annis), the staid incumbent is being challenged by Frances Barden(Bond), who wants to expand the Institute’s activities. We get to know the members of the WI, as well as their families and become caught up in their lives and their secrets. The show accurately portrays old-fashioned morals; the way a young girl’s reputation could be ruined by a love affair and the shame that a battered wife experiences. It also vividly makes us feel a mother’s desperate fear of losing her only child to war.
It took me awhile to get used to some of the camera work, too close views of a person’s face or boots marching, though I did like the shot from underneath a manual typewriter keyboard and don’t know if I’ve ever seen that view before.
While the patriotism of the time is on view, it’s not a mindless outlook, the realization of what sacrifices are being made is acknowledged. In some cases, those sacrifices cause very real pain to the villagers. There’s also an underlying resistance to the war from some characters, which is less commonly depicted and the consequences of those stances. These varying attitudes to the times feel more realistic than many war time settings.
The first season of this ITV drama recently finished here in the US and I was happy to read that a second season is being filmed. For however long it lasts, I look forward to following the residents of Great Paxford and their interactions with each other and the world beyond.

4 comments on “Home Fires

  1. camilledefleurville
    November 18, 2015

    We have somthing vaguely similar in France, called “Un village français”. It has been running during at least 6 or7 seasons, but there is nothing “homey” about it. It covers the whole WWII in France, not on the point of view of WI, but of the Resitance and the collaboration, tries/essays to stay outside the conflict, German invasion, etc.
    I like to see how the same eras and issues can be so differently treated from one country to another and the difference a little channel of sea water can make in history. The importance of geopolitics and the source of misuderstandings sometimes…
    All this is very interesting. The reaction of audiences is also very interesting. Downton Abbey did ot make it to any important channel in France and was almost not mentioned. I don’t think Home Fires will make it at all to any channel. As “Un Village français” would have not enough interest for enough audience in the UK.
    But the US and Canada love it (Home Fires) – they do not care about the French as well -: nostalgia, home-sickness or searching for roots and a past?

  2. Jackie
    November 18, 2015

    Well, I’m sure some people would be interested in “Un Village Francais”, myself included. I read the book “Charlotte Gray” which was about the French Resistance and even wrote a review of it, which you can see here-
    One of the most popular films in the US is “Casablanca”, which is about the Resistance too and my fellow Foxes reviewed it as well.
    Please don’t think the US doesn’t care about France, especially this week there has been a huge outpouring of love and solidarity towards France from us and many of us are fond of your country at other times too.

  3. Cathy746books
    November 18, 2015

    I haven’t seen this, but Annis and Bond are two great performers.

  4. Hilary
    November 20, 2015

    @Camilledefleurville, there are many potential viewers of subtitled French tv here in the UK, but so far only the crime series Engrenages (Spiral in the UK) has gained any traction. Our taste remains for Scandinavian drama. There is a French satellite channel here, and I discovered Un Village Français was being broadcast there, though unfortunately rather too late in the series for me to pick up the threads very successfully. I thought it looked like a high quality, serious drama (reminding me of the excellent Secret War, and there is not much higher praise than that).

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This entry was posted on November 18, 2015 by in Entries by Jackie, Film and Television, Uncategorized.



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