When Steve and I come to the last episode of a Netflix series that we’ve gotten immersed in, I always feel a sense of loss. It’s embarrassing to admit mourning the end of a TV show – the judgmental side of me says that grieving should be kept to real-life people, not squandered on a screenwriter’s fantasy. But when good writing, acting, and production quality make the characters and situations of a movie or series feel real, it’s hard to not grieve a little when it ends. You know the five stages…denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance…I think I’ve finally accepted that Detectives Linden and Holder from The Killing are gone from my life forever.
So when we find a new series that captures our attention, it’s cause for rejoicing; and we recently found one. If you’re looking for something to watch after you’ve made your way through the second season on Better Call Saul, I recommend watching The Heavy Water War. We showed great restraint in not binge watching all six episodes in one sitting. And after it ended, I continued to think about the events and characters. When a story stays with me like this one did, I know it was good.
The Heavy Water War – not a title that immediately draws you in, right? I didn’t think so either but it’s worth investing the time to watch the first episode and then see it you aren’t caught up in it.
The series, produced by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, is based on the true story of the sabotage of heavy water production in Norway in order to prevent Germany’s development of a nuclear bomb in WWII. I really enjoyed the way the writers told and dramatized the story from all sides – the Norwegian soldiers, the plant manager and his wife, British Intelligence, the German scientists – none of the characters are painted with a broad brush of 100% “good” or “bad.” We watch them struggle through their decisions and the implications.
I haven’t seen it but Steve told me about another – and not very good – movie made about the same subject. He said that The Heros of Telemark, made in 1965 and starring Kirk Douglas, told the story in that glossy, artificial style that was popular in major studio movies during the Vietnam era.
When we had watched all the episodes of The Heavy Water War, sure I felt sad – sad about it ending. But what was truly sad? The sacrifices that people made during the war for the greater good – families were separated, innocent lives were lost, careers were shattered – and that is worth remembering, grieving and honoring.