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History in Films and on Television History in Films and on TV - Documentary Films, Historical Dramas, and history programs on PBS and the History Channel


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Old December 31st, 2016, 07:48 AM   #1
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Joined: Apr 2016
From: Raleigh, NC
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Un Village Francais


I've really liked the French TV World War II series Un Village Francais, about the fictional town of Villeneuve just inside the German occupied zone from its occupation in 1940 through its liberation in 1945. It was originally planned for six seasons, one season per year of action. I was very happy when I found out that they did a seventh season that was broadcast in October and November of this year: 1945 Epilogue.

Much of the plot is melodramatic soap opera, but it seems to get the issues of the occupation generally historically right. The characters are neither saints nor demons; there's much less good/bad guys than usual, even though perfectly horrible things are going on. The moral issues are devastating. In one case, the Germans are planning to execute 20 hostages; in response to the French sous-prefet's plea for clemency, the commandant says he will execute only ten -- if the Frenchman selects which ten. Now, in the 1945 Epilogue, the Frenchman is on trial for collaboration, and the episode is raised against him. There's a lot of revisiting from hindsight episodes that were first shown in actuality.

And the 1945 Epilogue shows how all the parties seek to rewrite the war years. As a school teacher says, the new textbooks seem to be saying that we were all in the Resistance. Collabos know how to collaborate, whether it's Germans, Americans, or other Frenchmen now jockeying for power.

One of the best things I've seen showing how ordinary people react in a very bad situation.
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