‘All the Light We Cannot See’ timely tale of fighting darkness

Among Hollywood’s A list directors, Shawn Levy has triumphed with “Stranger Things” and a lengthy collaboration with Ryan Reynolds which will continue with “Deadpool 3.”

This week’s “All the Light We Cannot See” is something different.  Adapted from Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2014 bestseller, “Light,” set in Occupied WWII France, represents the filmmaker’s first dramatic period piece.

“This was definitely new ground for me,” Levy, 55, said in a Zoom interview. “I’ve done different kinds of storytelling in film and TV but I always wanted to tell a story that was more straight-ahead drama and, even more juicy, if it could be historically set.

“Why this particular story was irresistible to me? It was epic in scale but also had this very emotional intimacy. It’s rare you find a story with both. But that’s what Anthony Doerr’s novel achieved: It felt both huge and also human scale.

“As a director, that’s the dream story to tell. Where you can flex some muscles with scope and spectacle. But you can also finely craft human scale emotional moments between characters.”

“Light” is a story of sadistic Nazi torture and those who actively resisted.  Marie-Laure is a blind girl hiding in Saint-Malo, a bombarded coastal town in northern France, who nightly broadcasts signals to the Allies from her radio. If caught, she will summarily be executed.

She is pursued by Werner (Louis Hofmann), drafted by the Nazis to trace her radio signal.

“In large measure the show is about how to fight to protect your humanity in the midst of pressure to give it up. Which, by the way, is a very timely theme right now. It’s about the interplay and coexistence of light and dark. So yes, you have beauty and joy, love and escape alongside evil, threats and darkness. This is a story in large measure about the inevitable coexistence of both, rather than the ability of one to swallow up the other.”

Marie-Laure’s blindness means “Light” marks a major first. Noted Levy, “To our knowledge, no one’s ever had a blind protagonist in a major production, played by an actor or actress who are themselves blind.”

A global open casting call yielded over 1,000 auditions, all from low vision and legally blind contenders.  The young Marie-Laure is Nell Sutton, 7, from Wales. The teenage Marie-Laure is Aria Mia Loberti, a Ph.D. candidate at Penn State.

“Both are first timers, both are blind. They had a screen presence that was fiercely intelligent and luminous. Neither one of them really knew what they were doing as actors,” Levy said. “I knew that that presence, effervescence and intellect would be great building blocks for the character that we would all build onscreen together.”

“All the Light We Cannot See” streams all four episodes n Netflix Nov. 2.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous post Lucas: White males maligned in Biden’s America
Next post Throwback Thursday