‘World on Fire’ by PBS, is a war drama series starring Jonah Hauer-King, Julia Brown, Brian J. Smith, and various other prominent actors. The drama series is set amid countries like Britain, France, Germany, the USA, and Poland. The series unfolds at the heart of the Second World War. It is a compelling take on the lives of people from all walks of life struggling with the war and its various hardships.
Is ‘World on Fire’ Based on a True Story?
No, ‘World on Fire’ is not based on a true story though much of its historical background is rooted in the realities of World War II. The personal stories showcased in the drama series are created, keeping in mind how personal lives might have been impacted during the time of war. Executive producer Peter Bowker spoke to Deadline about how the makers found much inspiration for the series from an old documentary made in 1970 titled, ‘World at War.’ The predominant idea has been to capture the subjectivity of lives at that point in history. The way many memoirs and novels try to bring several people’s accounts of war trauma for its readers, the series makes a conscious effort to amplify the same for its audience.
Lost Subjectivities in War
The show tackles taboo elements such as homosexuality during a time period in history where being gay was regarded as a form of mental illness. The plot thickens when the love that knows no gender also has an inter-racial spin to it. It brings into the purview doubly marginalized identities. War does not give one the luxury of independent thoughts. Goods are rationed, best available resources, including mankind, are on the fence, and politics takes predominance over lives. The series weaves it into place when a black Jazz musician falls in love with a white man. The compelling social structure deems it necessary to have heterosexual relationships for progeny. In such cases, people often withdraw and find themselves at a junction where they are guilt-ridden, scared, and unable to be who they desire to be. On a thematic level, the show addresses such instances that go unreported or documented in a war.
The Nazi regime under Hitler was nothing short of an everlasting nightmare. The ruthless tyrant made aggressive military advances crippling the lives of those the dictator deemed inferior. ‘World on Fire’ highlights love in the time of war to be a dicey situation. In the series, love is tied up with many emotions. The heart goes out to all kinds of suffering, and one has no power to stop it. Love that truly knows no barrier is put to the test when war is based on controlling and keeping borders intact. Empathy, kindness, parenthood are words that are liabilities in a war.
The show takes into stride the play of such subjective identity issues spanning different socio-political contexts during the time of the Second World War. It could perhaps be the reason the show gained popularity and stepped ahead to welcome the idea of a second season. History has a monochromatic way of representing wars. It’s often statistical and narrates the political domain of affairs. Series like ‘ World on Fire’ is an attempt to base it in personal realities. There aren’t many differences behind what is personal or political. They are, after all, two different sides of the same coin.
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