With its arrival on Netflix almost a decade after the book became a sensation, All the Light We Cannot See is set to reach an even bigger audience than it already had. If you’ve already caught the show, though, you might be looking for other meaty historical dramas that are worth your time.
The series, which tells the story of World War II from two distinct perspectives, is fairly unusual, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of movies and TV shows that are likely to give you the same feeling.
A Hidden Life (2019)
Telling the story of an Austrian farmer who faces an impossible moral quandary after he’s given the choice of either fighting for the Nazis or being executed, A Hidden Life takes the question at its center incredibly seriously. The movie, which runs nearly three hours, is also beautiful and lyrical and centered first and foremost on a marriage.
Few movies about World War II are likely to leave you more moved, and A Hidden Life is also an important reminder that, even among the Nazi rank and file, there were those who knew that what was happening was wrong.
If you found Oppenheimer as riveting as many across the country, then Manhattan is probably a logical follow-up. Set at the Los Alamos camp, the series follows a set of fictional scientists who interact with real ones from history as they build the atomic bomb.
Another show freighted with the weighty questions that building a new weapon of war brings with them, Manhattan was also a show about secrets, and the burden this work took on the many married men who joined the program. Although this was only one of many experiences people had during the war, Manhattan is as rich a show as any on TV.
The story of a single company as they travel through boot camp and the war itself, Band of Brothers takes a very different perspective on World War II than All the Light We Cannot See.
Even so, the show does an excellent job of both humanizing Easy Company and valorizing them, reminding us that the brave men who battled in World War II were mostly boys, barely of age, and dealing with harsh conditions to fight powerful enemies. All the Light We Cannot See may focus its attention on European characters, but Band of Brothers shares the same defining humanity.
Based on a best seller of the same name, The Book Thief shares a young protagonist living through World War II in Europe with All the Light We Cannot See. This story follows that young girl as she discovers the joys of reading and writing and grows accustomed to her new foster parents.
Although The Book Thief is ultimately a pretty tragic tale, it’s also a story about what it means to tell your own story in the most hostile circumstances imaginable. And, like A Hidden Life, it’s a reminder that not everyone living in Germany was down with the Nazis.
An alternate history, The Plot Against America imagines a world where Charles Lindbergh, a famed Nazi sympathizer from the 1940s, ascends to the presidency and steers the nation toward fascism.
Telling this story through the eyes of a Jewish community in New Jersey, the show had eerie political resonance upon its initial release and is a crucial reminder that what happened in Germany could happen anywhere. Featuring riveting performances, a shocking level of realism, and, and wonderful scripts, The Plot Against America is as riveting as it is unsettling.
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