Thursday, 30 October 2014

Ceux de 14 - the critics speak!

With the first episodes of Ceux de 14 having been broadcast on France 3 earlier this week, the critics have now had their say.

Télé-Loisirs: 'a good reconstruction of war', but overall the cast 'was rather wooden'; on the other hand Théo Frilet, as Genevoix was 'convincing'. Overall: Very Good

Télé 2 Semaines: 'convincing casting', but also thought they were 'rather wooden'. Overall: Quite Good

Télé Z: 'we lived, suffered and wept with these soldiers serving during the Great War'. Overall: Excellent

Télé Poche: 'faithful to the original book'. Overall: Good

TV Grandes Chaines: 'a bold production' with 'convincing actors'. Overall: Very Good.

Télé 7 Jours: 'the series is a noteworthy tribute to a generation that was sacrificed', played by 'outstanding actors'. Overall: Good

Télé Star: Overall: Good

So ... 'could be better' by the sound of things; but likewise, could be a lot worse (and we've seen plenty of those over the years!). I'll still be watching.

The quotes and stills come from TV-Premières here; thanks to Jeeves for the reference

Update 4 November: I watched the first two episodes on TV5 last night, and yes, it was 'good'. First episodes are always tricky, because there is so much back story to get in for the viewer that knows nothing about the period, but I thought it was slightly too episodic to get a real sense of all the characters. Lovers of explosions will have been disappointed, because there was little in the way of set-piece action - it certainly didn't build into the action in the same way that Band of Brothers did, for example. And on one occasion, our hero Genevoix becomes isolated behind German lines following an enemy attack; but the next scene has him strolling into his platoon's lines as if nothing much had happened. So, a qualified success. Will I watch the rest? Oh yes. Should you? Yes.

Another update 11 November: the third and fourth episodes were broadcast last night. Episode 4 is largely concerned with the fighting at Les Eparges in late 1914 / early 1915; a clip of the set-piece assault is on YouTube here. The poster says this is by no means the most interesting episode because it is largely concerned with combat - imagine, a film about war that includes actual fighting! Who'd'a thunk it? The opening credits of episode 1 can be viewed here.

Another update 18 November: the fifth and sixth, final, episodes were broadcast on Monday evening. One by one, the soldiers we have introduced to are killed in action at Les Eparges. The final episode reprises the attack that opens episode 1, and it concludes with Genevoix being shot three times as he goes to rescue one of his men under fire. You are left wondering if he would die of his wounds; in real life, Genevoix was so badly wounded, he was invalided out of the army after seven months in various hospitals, was assessed at 70% disability, and permanently lost the use of his left hand.

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