All The Light That You Cannot See
There is nothing human about any war
This is not just a review of a Netflix series. It is an assessment of the contemporary world, being torn apart with war and strife. Add today’s political spin to it and the evaluation becomes even more relatable.
‘All the Light We Cannot See’ isn’t just another war story but an exploration of the human condition. Touching on themes of family, sacrifice, and the complicated morality of survival, it also delves into identity, free will and endurance.
It is a slice of the humongous battle of bread that continues to be baked in all ‘occupied’ territories. You get to see the damage, destruction and wreckage, but from a unique human angle. Perhaps that’s what makes it a heart wrenching tale of hope and resistance.
Even with its confusing matrix like duelling time skips, going back and forth, it is the warm example of how love is still evident even in the midst of war, is what makes this series worth watching. Moreover, it also makes us observe humanity at its best. And at its worst.
All characters are multifaceted, no one being all good or all evil. Each has a flicker of light still left within, which they fight hard from being extinguished even in the harshest of circumstances.
Set against the backdrop of World War II, from the borders of Germany and France; amidst the incredible blend of the world of genius and the world of the eyeless, this mesmerising story is about a young gifted German and the multifaceted inner world of a French blind girl.
It is the story of Marie, a loving daughter and her doting father. It is about her losing her innocence when she joins the French resistance against German occupation. It is about the intelligent Professor, her uncle, who apart from spreading the message of peace, also helps the allied troops by sending them encoded messages.
It is about an innocent German boy and how the cords of his soul are severed by the Nazis when he is forced to join an organisation where young children are brainwashed and brutalized into becoming sadistic vicious monsters.
Marie grows up during the challenging times, experiences personal tragedies and yet never loses a sense of wonder around her. Like most of us, but with her sense of memory and intuition, she still holds on to the hope that goodness will ultimately prevail.
Werner is like most of the youngsters of today, brainwashed and troubled by a futile ideology and yet deep down within there is a flicker of ‘light’ in him. Surrounded by a set of people with no regard for humanity, when they come together amidst a pointless war being raged, it allows some salvation and appeasement to both.
In this tragic merry go round, where human hearts are affected in inhuman ways, millions of emotions are spun around like a slow burn. You will experience tender moments, soft, sad, hopeful, hopeless, frustrating, rewarding, and everything in between. Moments that will make you smile and those that will make you cry.
The warm light shines when unlike other war series, the focus isn’t on battlefields and bunkers but on kitchen, bakeries, orphanages, schools, basements and attics.
The multiple layers of the will to survive in the face of desolation and atrocities are so rich, that a piece of my heart will always remain with this series. The stark imagery and the glaring metaphors indicate the futile and the self- destructive nature of war, especially for those who never even wanted to be involved in the first place.
This dual perspective of the ‘light’ is something which everyone needs to see. The dismal glow of displaced families and devastated cities, is highlighted brightly in a black, white and gray world. Perhaps this is All the Light that we cannot see. Or intentionally are not willing to.
Often we try to put a human face on war, mostly to humanize the actions of the oppressors. But in reality, there is nothing human about any war.
Unfortunately, war has become what religion once was, a reason for existence for most of the madmen who don’t care about you. No matter which side you are on, you are just a statistic, a dispensable pawn in a game of power. Look around and you’ll realise that sadly nothing much has changed, except perhaps the players dictating to the masses.
Watching the series was like attending a funeral, and I feel like I am in mourning. The entire experience was sad throughout, with only tiny morsels of hope. I wept, not only for the lovers, but for all those men, women and children who lived and died and who still continue to do so. Every day. Every minute.
Watching the series was also like watching an awfully beautiful sunset. My only hope is that soon we will all get to see the magnificent sunrise too. Let me end my ‘review’ with a beautiful dialogue from the series. It is for all the people with eyes, but without any vision: ‘Open your eyes and see what you can with them, before they close forever!’