thu 23/01/2020

World War Two

Blomfield, Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH review - sounds of a troubled truce

Concert programmes that set out to tell us a story can prove a mixed blessing. Yes, it’s valuable and stimulating to find ideas, and narratives, embodied in the musical flow. But great pieces, well-performed, have a habit of cutting loose from the...

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A Hidden Life review - Nazism stoically refused

Terrence Malick returns to his former greatness following three features of unscripted, all-star poesy, with this sombre biopic of sainted Austrian conscientious objector Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl). A farmer who refused to swear the Hitler...

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The Wind of Heaven, Finborough Theatre review - a welcome, if strange, Emlyn Williams rediscovery

This is the third Emlyn Williams piece to be presented here in a decade: The Druid's Rest in 2009 was followed by the enormous success of Accolade, directed by Blanche McIntyre, two years later.If it's a truism that neglected plays may well have...

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White Christmas, Dominion Theatre review - breezy but bland

Nostalgia for things that probably never were is an animating theme in politics these days. Much the same feeling displaced to the realm of showbiz, lends a vaguely dampening air to White Christmas, this latest stage retread of the 1954 Bing...

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World on Fire, BBC One, series finale review - may this fine war drama fight on

A bit like all those people on the home front in 1940 (but only a little bit), we sit and nervously wait for news. Is World on Fire (BBC One) still listed among the living? Or even now is someone typing up the letter and sticking it in a brown...

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Caroline Moorehead: A House in the Mountains review – the women's war against Fascism

In September 1944, a heavily pregnant Resistance activist in the north of German-occupied Italy was arrested on a visit to Milan. Lisetta Giua, a law student and fiancée of the Jewish anti-Fascist chief Vittorio Foa, worked as one of hundreds of...

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Midway review - gung-ho heroes battle moribund script

Director Roland Emmerich has been trying to make this movie since the 1990s, and battled hard to raise its $100m budget from individual investors. But why? The result is an old-fashioned war film in praise of the heroic American servicemen who...

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Werewolf review - post-Holocaust horrors

There used to be this myth that we knew nothing about the concentration camps until the victors opened their gates in 1945, and that the survivors were then nursed back to health. The Russians put out newsreels filmed weeks later of nurses tending...

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World on Fire, BBC One review - more melodrama than drama

For his new drama series for BBC One, writer Peter Bowker (The A Word, Monroe etc) has taken as his canvas no less than a panorama of Europe in 1939, just as World War Two is breaking out. His principal characters include Harry Chase, a young man...

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Svetlana Alexievich: Last Witnesses: Unchildlike Stories review - anything but childish

Svetlana Alexievich’s Last Witnesses: Unchildlike Stories is a collection of oral testimonies conducted between 1978-2004 with Soviet and post-Soviet citizens who were children during the second world war. They recount strange and terrible...

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Vasily Grossman: Stalingrad review - a Soviet national epic

Stalingrad is the companion piece to Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate, which on its (re)publication in English a decade ago was acclaimed as one of the greatest Russian (and not only Russian) novels of the 20th century. For its sense of the sheer...

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Blu-ray: The Night of the Generals

Anatole Litvak’s The Night of the Generals (1967), beautifully restored here to 4K, is a tortuous and at times entertaining mash-up of the July 1944 plot to kill Hitler and the murder of a prostitute in Nazi-occupied Warsaw a few years earlier....

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