17 December 2008 | stuka24
Average family saga of an aristocratic Jewish generation during the Russian revolution and WW2.
This TV series doesn't do much to break away from all the clichés one's watched in countless movies about this well-trodden topic. The best is has is probably the "period settings". You really believe you are living in that period. All in all, it would be from 1920 till the end of WW2. So much that when, from time to time, the narrative includes some current images of the places (Berlin, Nice) I felt it almost jarring. Generally speaking, it's quite accurate depicting the hardships the Jewish were subjected first in Russia, then in Germany, and finally in France's Vichy. The contrast between their high life of rich bourgeoisie and then almost starving is enlightening for us who live in troubled times. Add to the world crisis our perpetually bad local governments in Latin America, and you might think this series is telling us something about the future! Besides, it's interesting how people (us) tend to believe the illusion that: "now we're safe". The wife Tatiana says it to Micha when he's happy about being successful again in Germany: "He forgets we are Jews and live in Germany". Of course the rest of the struggles and betrayals they face only proves her right. The patriarchal character grows from the first to the second episode. He was a bullying teenager who cannot realize that he's not a Russian aristocratic anymore. Only when they have to work, ALL, at a butchery he begins to understand. But obviously it's too late, and the sacrifices take their toll, like all postponed decisions. The last chapter repeats what we have read many times. It's not so creative as the other two. Besides, it turns to be repetitive, fugue after escape, and then again ... Narratively, I feel it decayed. I liked the "Russian music", and ... sings it beautifully, and with heart. The actors are rather well, from the nice petite Anouk Grinberg to her daughters, the nice , and the "selfless" . (Who turns out to be wiser than her sister, as expected). The family starts being patriarchal and ends being matriarchal, in the sense that it's the women who save the day, are the breadwinners, get all the informal privileges you need to survive in a barter economy, and make men come to their senses (... to his gambling husband, for instance). It's a feminine film, note that all the progeny are women! And men are usually not very bright, violent, emotionally unstable and even rapists (the legionnaire)! Recommendation: watch it only if you are interested in the period.