Why do I watch these series that make me go through a box of tissues? Can someone answer me, please? It’s that phrase that continually resounds in my brain, “Lest We Forget.”
Since I’ve recently written a book set in England during World War I, between finding all of my distant cousins who perished, plus doing research non-stop, I’ve been pulled into this terrible conflict. The more I watch, the more I cry. Someone on the Period Drama Group on Facebook suggested The Passing Bells. It’s streaming on BritBox, if you care to watch it. It’s also on sale on Amazon but in overseas format only. Beware, the ending will rip your heart out.
It’s a story that spans four years of the World War I, seen through the eyes of two young lads – one from England and one from Germany. From the moment that war is declared and they enlist, the story flips back and forth following their training and fighting in a war that after four years becomes tiresome and pointless.
In addition to their lives, the story touches upon their families — the fears of their mothers when they enlist, the proud fathers who wish their sons the best, the young ladies the young lads love, and the effects of war upon their home communities. It also places the audience in the trenches and at the battle of Somme, which was the most horrific battle where in reality 420,000 English soldiers, 434,000 German, and 200,000 French died. At the end of the series, the following is shown – What passing-bells for these who die as cattle. (Anthem for Doomed Youth byWilford Owen)
There is great hope as you watch this five-part series that the two young lads (Thomas played by Patrick Gibson as the English soldier and Michael played by Jack Lowden as the German soldier) will survive. As you watch the politicians sign their names to the Treaty of Versailles something terrible happens at the end. It is not an easy story to watch, but it reminds us that we should never forget.
My only critical comment about this series is that British actors with distinctive British accents also play the Germans in this movie. It detracts from the realism and would have been much better had they learned the accent for the role. At times it feels as if it’s the British lads fighting British lads. Otherwise, it’s realistically filmed and well acted.