A Glimpse into the Past

Michael Kitchen playing Foyle

Foyle’s War: The Home Front Files, British TV series 2002-2015. Available on Netflix and Amazon and numerous other outlets. Good source for info: www.imdb.com/title/tt0310455/.

​Well, last week I didn’t post about a book or a podcast or a movie, and this week I could talk about Beauty and the Beast, which I asked for as part of my birthday weekend and which we saw last night. (This trend of selling assigned movie seats is becoming quite a pain. Also, they’re pulling out the regular seats and putting in recliners, so there are fewer seats overall, but then I guess they’ve upped the prices. We always try to buy the discount tickets at King Soopers, but you can’t use them to book seats online. When we got there we were told there were three tickets left for the showing we wanted but they weren’t together and two of them were pretty close.

I didn’t want to wait and thought it would be okay, but Gideon ended up sitting at the end of the second row and got a migraine, although he graciously said that he didn’t think his sideways closeup view caused it.) I think the whole LaFou/Gaston gay vibe has been a tad overblown in the press, by the way. And I thoroughly enjoyed the film, even tearing up a few times. Can you believe it? I had to tell myself that I shouldn’t let Gideon’s migraine ruin my (retrospective) enjoyment, and after I’d apologized about half a dozen times for my cavalier assumption that the closer seats wouldn’t be a problem I realized I was just being irritating, so I stopped. Added to my retrospective enjoyment, by the way, was my discovery when I got home and looked up the actor who played the Beast/Prince that he’s the same guy who played Matthew in Downton Abbey. And we all loved Matthew, didn’t we?

Anyway, enough of that. If you don’t mind adding to Disney’s multi-multi-million-dollar take on B&B I’d strongly recommend that you see it in the theater, as it is really spectacular. It wouldn’t be at all the same on a TV screen. But on to my real recommendation for this post, which is the British TV series in the title. Man, is it good! We’ve decided that usually in a series you can get two out of three: acting, cinematography, or writing. Take your pick. Typically writing gets the shaft, especially as a series goes on. (I sometimes feel sorry for the actors who are having to say ridiculous lines in ridiculous plots.) We’ve only watched two episodes and so may end up getting disappointed, but for now it’s hitting a solid three out of three.

What impressed me enormously last night as we watched episode two was how close Britain came to being invaded by Germany, or at least how close they thought they came. I’ve read and taught extensively on World War II, and yet didn’t realize how matters would look to the people living through these events. The storylines right now are in 1940, so the war has just started and we haven’t gotten to the Blitz yet. But almost all of Europe has fallen. At this point Germany and Russia are allies, so that’s not helping the British any. Some people are kind of counting on the German invasion. They think that all the normal rules will be suspended once that happens and there will be all kinds of opportunities. And others think Hitler is perfectly right about the Jews and aren’t at all shy about saying so. (The Jews are plotting to take over the world and impose their laws—has a certain familiar ring, doesn’t it?) The episodes so far have been a splendid window into this period. If nothing else, they’ve been a reminder of how good we have it now, in spite of everything. I just went onto the Netflix website to see how many episodes there are, and it looks as thought it went on for nine seasons. Whew! I’m reasonably sure that the level of writing can’t possibly hold up, but we’ll see. I’ll probably be posting again about the series, but you really should watch it if you can. Will Foyle’s son make it through the war as he flies for the RAF? Will Sergeant Milner’s marriage survive the loss of his leg? And what of the redoubtable Sam? (You’ll have to watch the series to find out about her. Yes, her. Real name Samantha.)

So two recommendations, really, since I’m so positive about Beauty and the Beast. Actually, not to get all psychoanalytical about it, both stories have to do with the other, the stranger who must be attacked (the Beast, the Jews). It’s so interesting–and tragic–to see how human society fractures along those lines: open vs. closed, us vs. them. Take a look at either or both and see what you think.

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