Unveiling “All the Light We Cannot See” on Netflix: A Spectacular Literary Journey
The Netflix “All the Light We Cannot See” series follow Marie-Laure LeBlanc and Werner Pfennig, two people on opposite sides of the war who both end up sequestered in Saint-Malo during the August 1944 battle in the town.
Screenwriter Steven Knight and director Shawn Levy’s much-anticipated Netflix mini-series, based on Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “All the Light We Cannot See,” has its moments of brilliance as well as its shortcomings. The adaptation dazzles with its visually striking scenes, capturing the beauty of a coastal French city bathed in lovely lighting. Additionally, Aria Mia Lobetti delivers a convincing debut performance as Marie-Laure LeBlanc.
The Netflix mini-series “All the Light We Cannot See” unveils the heart-wrenching yet beautiful story of Marie-Laure and Werner, two destined soul mates whose lives are entwined amidst the cataclysmic divide of World War II. As she delivers coded radio messages to the Allied bombing command in France, and he, a young Nazi radio technician, is assigned to track her down, their worlds collide with the impending American troops’ arrival.
In the case of Werner Pfennig, an unwilling Nazi, the potential to explore the complexities of good and evil in challenging times remains largely unexamined. Werner is sent to the National Political Institute of Education, a Nazi training school, where “boys become men and men, soldiers.” While we witness scenes of his initiation, with older students chasing him into the woods and beating him, we miss out on the transformation of his character, the inner turmoil he experiences, and how his humanity resists the toxic propaganda imposed on him. He claims that the things he has witnessed continue to haunt him, but the audience is never shown what Werner has seen, as these distressing events occur off-screen. Without witnessing his sins, his potential for redemption and heroism lacks the original poignancy.
The dialogue often veers into triteness and melodrama, frequently falling flat. The profound philosophical themes of light shining in the darkness, such as “the most important light is the light we cannot see,” which resonated in the novel, struggle to translate effectively to the screen. This is because the adaptation fails to establish the richly detailed world of wartime suffering in the same way as the source material. As a result, Levy’s “All the Light We Cannot See” remains a superficial adaptation that lacks the depth and substance of the original novel.
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