Taking its title from a quote from Miep Gies, the woman who helped hide Anne Frank and her family in Amsterdam during World War II, she often ended her speeches later in life with, “a little lightis the latest engaging, richly detailed biographical drama from National Geographic,
co-creators jon ratter And Tony Phelan ,grey’s anatomy”) Find a deeply humanistic angle to this famous piece of history by telling the story of Frank and his family through the people who helped them. While the tragic ending is no surprise to most of the family, this approach gives them a grace of humor and anger and joy and sadness in equal measure.
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The series is set mostly from July 6, 1942 to August 4, 1944 – the period in which Otto Frank (a distinguished liev schreiber, ,ray donovan”), his wife Edith Frank (amira kaiser,call me by your name”), their daughters Margot (Ashley Brooke) and Anne (billy boulet), along with four others hid from the Nazis in an annex above Frank’s offices. Austrian-born Miep (a tremendous bel pauli,diary of a teenager”), including how she was adopted as a child by a Dutch family, her courtship with her husband Jan (Joe Cole,peaky blinders”), getting her hired by Otto as his secretary, and leading up to the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.
In these early scenes, we meet the flighty, scruffy, little Meep as a young woman with no purpose. Before Otto asks her to help his family, it is through her friendship with her family and her relationship with Jan that she begins to form a plan for her life. As keeping the family safe takes over his life, a new purpose takes hold.
Because the show is told mostly from the perspective of Miep and her husband Jan, the violence perpetrated by the Nazis on the Jewish population is often viewed from afar. The effect doesn’t tone down their brutality, but instead allows the violence to speak for itself without venturing into exploitative territory.
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Paulie’s large, expressive eyes mirror the evolution of MieP. At first the later episodes of the show are an acquired wisdom filled with the awe and wonder of youth, capped by a thin layer of weariness. As of Jan, Miep’s partner in the Resistance, Cole is in complete disarray. The two meet at a bar for the first time, Jan humbly reading a book by himself. In these early scenes the two create an excellent chemistry that carries over well into the passionate disses they are.
While Miep channels his frustration towards the occupying Nazis through his covert work aiding the Franks, Jan uses his position as a social worker to help his countrymen, although he Often feels he is not doing enough. When the opportunity arises for him to join the resistance, a religious fire burns within him. The resistance sequences contain some of the most heartwarming moments in the series, often involving the complex obstacles the group moves through to rescue children and babies.
Here, the authors also find ways to suggest parallels to current events, including the rise of anti-Semitism and legislation attacking the gay community in the United States and abroad. “The Nazis outlawed me,” Miep’s adopted brother Kais (Laurie Kynaston,the man who fell to earth”) tells her out of fear that their parents will be in danger if an arrested ex-boyfriend bails her out. Many of January’s fellow resistance fighters are also from the LGBTQ community, underscoring how long the fight for equality has come.
Along with the show’s depiction of resistance in action, it also illustrates how the grip of fascism can be strengthened through inaction. Soon Miep’s best friend Tess (eleanor tomlinson,Poldark“), narrows down the murder of an ice cream shop owner who dared publicly oppose the Nazis, before he is joined by a colleague who announces that he must take over his father’s company. To survive is to do business with the Nazis. Despite all this, Miep and Jan continue to socialize with the couple until they realize they are at a party consisting entirely of Dutch Nazis.
In contrast to the show’s grim portrayal of how fascism can creep into society so easily, it is a depiction of the strength of those who hold tight to their humanity. In a beautiful scene, Miep arranges it in such a way that Dr. Pfeiffer (a touching Noah Taylor,preacher”) overhears his conversation with his girlfriend Lottie, who has brought a basket for Hanukkah. Taylor rests her head on a vent in the floor above the kitchen, as she recounts how they had herrings on their first date. A tear and a smile overcame him. A reminder that people’s lives are made of these little moments that often seem insignificant until suddenly they happen.
These quiet moments of profound humanism keep the show grounded and away from the realm of exploitation, even as the family’s arrest date becomes imminent. Again, this is presented through Miep’s experience of the events, her terror, her anguish, her strength. When the hidden rooms are finally raided, sounds are heard off-screen. Miep’s eyes are filled with sadness as she watches them being removed one by one.
The last frame of Anne, played by Boulet throughout the series with the kindest warmth and ferocity that will break your heart. Not only because of the writer we know she was, but because she was the stubborn, intelligent, restless, and fiercely opinionated, regular young girl we had the pleasure of seeing in fits and starts throughout the series. Although this would become his legacy, his diary only mentions it a few times. He has his own hidden world in this hidden world.
When Miep saved the diary, it was with the thought that she might return it to Anne when the war ended. It was a simple act of kindness, the only thing he had left to give. And yet, the impact of this action was far greater than she could have ever imagined. We know it’s true, but for Miep, right after the war, it doesn’t seem like enough.
Yet, what “A Little Light” wants to show us is the importance of doing something every day that we know is good. Miep may have felt at that moment that she had failed, but she helped give security and hope to Anne and her family for an additional two years, and even without taking into account the later importance of Anne’s diary. , that’s a lot.
In real life, Miep did not consider himself a hero. A simple man who did the right thing. In a world that is increasingly realizing that fewer and fewer people will do the same, stories like hers matter a lot. But it’s also refreshing that it can still be maintained, with all its complexity and its flaws. [A-]
“A Small Light” debuts today on National Geographic and Disney+.