Sunday, 11 September 2016

Impressions of Back in Time for Dinner, Home Fires and Monuments Men


Back in time for dinner (2015)

Adaptation of: no adaptation
Length: 6 x 45 minutes

Summary: The Robshaws, an ordinary British family, takes part in a time-traveling adventure by eating only food from a specific decade for six weeks. But not only their diet will go back in time, also their own house will be re-styled according to the period

Familiar faces (from period drama): nope, no famous actors here ;-)

Watch this if:
- You like 20th century (social) history
- You enjoy the historical reality programs the BBC makes
- You want to be amazed by all the choice we have in food nowadays ;-)

Don’t watch this if:
- You get easily annoyed by chirpy, over-enthusiastic presenters

Best part: When mum Rochelle and daughter Ross tried to make an intricate desert for the coronation festivities and failed gloriously!

My opinion: Another really fun and informative program from the BBC’s historical reality team. The format is a bit dangerous (you never know how a family, and especially teens, are going to respond to such a historical challenge), but the Robshaws were really fun to watch, they all really wanted this experience. Presenter Giles Coren could be a bit annoying sometimes, but his presence was luckily limited. I learned a lot and was amazed by how much the Western diet has changed over just 50 years!

Home fires season 1 (2015)

Adaptation of: Jambusters by Julie Summers, inspired by true events
Length: 6 x 45 minutes

Summary: In a small English town, everything changes when war is declared in 1939. While the men go of to war, the women, united in the Women's Institute, have their own part to play.

Familiar faces (from period drama): Francesca Annis (Wives and Daughters, Cranford), Samantha Bond (Downton Abbey), Ed Stoppard (Upstairs, Downstairs)

Watch this if:
- You like quiet, character-driven drama
- You liked series and movies about the British homefront during WWII, such as Land Girls
- You don't mind a bit of soapy dramatics

Don't watch this if:
- You want something original and different

Best part: When farmer's wive Steph learns to write and read and her confidence in running the farm in her husband's absence grows.

My opinion: This production is filled with simple stories of women having to wave their husbands and sons goodbye and fend for themselves. Nothing revolutionary or untold, but interesting to watch and mostly well-made and acted nonetheless. There are some very typical storylines that almost seem to come from the 'ABC of WWII drama' (young girls falls for married officer, conscientious objector gets abused etc). You easily feel as if you become part of the village live during the six episodes. There were actually too many characters in this mini-series, so not all of them get the depth they deserve. A second series is already out, so this will probably give viewers the chance to get to know the characters better.

The monuments men (2014)

Adaptation of: inspired by true events
Length: 118 minutes

Summary: In 1943, while the Allied forces are driving the Axis powers back, a small team of curators and art historians is set up to assist the army in searching for stolen art and returning it to its rightfull owners. They have to fight for their place in an army that doesn't take them seriously.

Familiar faces (from period drama): Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth, Robin Hood)

Watch this if:
- You like learning about untold stories from WWII

Don't watch this if:
- You're easily annoyed by a comedic approach to WWII stories

Best part: When the team find a sculpture from Michelangelo that they had been looking for all over Europe in the nick of time.

My opinion: I loved learning about this team of brave and determined men through this movie. During my holidays in Europe, I've often been saddened by the loss of history and art through the destruction of WWII, but watching this movie, I realized it could have been so much worse. I thought it was well-made and had some really impressive scenes, especially more towards the end. I liked the camaraderie between the men, at some points I felt it veered a little too much in the slapstick direction. I also felt the sort-of romance was out of tone and unnecessary to the plot.


  1. I hope to see Home Fires at some point.

    I quite love Monuments Men. It feels to me like a throwback to the WWII films made in the 1950s and '60s, which did have a lighter tone than the ones made from the '70s on, which grim. I don't think the moments of levity and overall optimism is meant to downplay the tragedy and darkness of war, but to emphasize the durability of the human spirit. Soldiers could find things to laugh about during war, funny things do happen even in battle, and so on.

    As for the near-romance, I haven't read the book this is based on yet, so I don't know if it's based on fact or not, but I liked it because of how unusual it was. A woman with a lot of anger and trust issues comes to not only trust but like a man. And the man is married. Instead of falling into bed with her and saying, "Well, all's fair in love and war," he remains true to his wife, which is refreshing. And it's also fairly important character building for him as well, because it shows how committed he is to the things he believes in. Without that commitment and loyalty being displayed there, would him stepping on the grenade later and trying to convince everyone else to leave him have been so believable? He's a guy not only willing to make hard moral decisions and sacrifice himself (or his desires), he's very capable of doing so.

    Anyway, just my take ;-) Like I said, I love this movie, especially James Granger.

    1. Overall I don't mind humor or lightness in serious movies at all. For example, I can definitely value the humorous moments in the LOTR movies. But somehow, with Monuments Men, it felt a bit jarring for me.

      I liked your comment about the 'near-romance'. I hadn't thought about it in the way you describe it at all!

  2. After reading Hamlette's comment, I'm quite curious about Monuments Men now! And Home Fires sounds intriguing. I had the chance to watch Season one and bits of season two of The Bletchley Circle recently, and while they are very different shows I'm sure, it wet my appetite for more BBC shows! :)

    1. Oh really, (almost) everything historical the BBC produces I'm curious to watch at some point!