I finally managed to watch Part I of Birdsong, the BBC One TV drama based on Sebastian Faulk’s excellent eponymous novel. They chose to tell the story moving back and forth between 1910 and 1916.
Stephen is fighting in the trenches and thinking back on how he meet Isabelle, in France, in 1910. He stayed at her house and helped her husband, a factory owner, develop new machines. Those machines were going to make a lot of the workers lose their jobs. The marriage is an odd one. The children are from a former wife, Isabelle and her husband have no children together. At night Stephen hears her cry, during the day he watches her sneak around. She tells him later that she brings bread to the worker’s families.
Isabelle is clearly what the French call a “mal-mariée” – a woman unhappy in her marriage. Stephen is much younger than her husband. He is kind, caring and very attentive. We can’t blame her for falling in love.
All this is shown in flashbacks while Stephen is fighting in the trenches. He is a Lieutenant and has the reputation of being very quiet and superstitious. He seems to have no family, friends or a sweetheart. The trench they are in is above a tunnel system dug out to lead under the German trenches where they could be blown up. The diggers hear that the Germans are digging on the other side as well and are quickly approaching. Usually miners were sent down, not infantry men, but the commanding officer decides that Stephen and his men have to go down as well. Stephen had a problem with one of the miners before and now he is sent down with him.
I’m looking forward to part II as I have forgotten the rest of the story. Or at least the rest of the love story. When I read the book I was much more impressed with the parts on WWI. Although the movie starts in the trenches, it still is much more of a love than a war movie and can’t even be called a war romance as I would only call a movie “war romance” when the romance is set during the war.
I didn’t mind watching it, I even liked it, but it isn’t great, it’s just very watchable. I’ll tell you my final impressions once I have watched part II.
Funny you should do this post now. I just talked to my brother this weekend and he mentioned this series. I had never heard of it. I have to say that your review does not make me want to watch it. Sorry. You know how I am about romances. What do you know about a series called “Island at War”?
I vaguely remember that title but cannot place it.
Nice review. I have seen it months ago but didn’t write any review because it didn’t impress me. I guess it’s because the story is about infidelity. But I really like the war scene.
It’s really like two movies in one. I had a hard time blaming her, I didn’t like her husband.Thanks, Novroz.
I didn’t like her husband either but poor children had to suffer like that.
Oh it’s always bad for the children, that’s for sure but the older daughter was a bit obnoxious, trying to seduce him and rat them out.
[…] like it as much as she did. You can read a better review for this series at All About War Movies, Episode 1 and Episode […]