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"Island at War"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"Island at War" More at IMDbPro »

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38 out of 39 people found the following review useful:


Author: joan-1 from Southampton
14 August 2004

An excellent drama, well acted and very entertaining. The actors have avoided the usual stereotypes often found in dramas concerning with war, portraying their characters as having different sides to them and not one dimensional human being.

Although it is, in some ways, unfair to single out any one performance I have to say that Philip Glenister and James Wilby have been particularly great. Two men on opposite sides, Philip Glenister's character appears strong and James Wilby's character would appear to be the weaker of the two.

However, they are probably more alike than either would care to admit. Two very compelling performances.

Congratulations to all those involved in this production, hope to see another series.

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34 out of 36 people found the following review useful:


Author: michelecrosby from United States
6 May 2005

This was the best mini-series I have ever seen. I began watching in the middle of episode 2 after my husband kept saying "You should really see this." By episode 3 I was hooked. The storyline is very intense without being crude, graphic or gory. The setting is absolutely gorgeous. The acting and dialog are brilliant. Each character is multi-dimensional and well developed with credit due to the incredibly honest writing of Stephen Mallatratt and the skill of the actors in bringing that writing to life. I felt like I was there.

I never knew about the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands until I saw this. There have been some complaints that the series is not historically accurate, but this is not meant to be a documentary; it is a fictional drama. A drama with teeth though - many of the characters wrestle with moral and ideological dilemmas that leave you thinking. It's also just plain fun.

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28 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely Marvelous!!

Author: laura1jane from wilmslow, cheshire
20 September 2004

I can't believe how anyone can critisise this excellent drama. It has been the highlight of my year as far as the television is concerned. ITV have done themselves proud considering the rubbish and repeats they usually churn out! The cast was superb with acclaimed actors such as Philip Glenister of 'Vanity Fair' and 'The other bolyn girl', Joanne Frogatt who has come along way since Coronation Street and Edward Fox's nephew Laurence Fox.

The settings, the backing music and the story lines all fitted together perfectly, i just hope ITV take on board the great amount of praise they have received for this drama and commission a second series!!

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25 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Great Show!

Author: kjack16 from United States
29 May 2005

If you like good drama and shows about WWII, you will love this show. Every single actor is excellent and the romantic subplots are delicious. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel.

I've watched the show several times and each time have found new lines and facial expressions that add more to the characters and the plot.

I can only imagine what life on those lovely islands must have been like when occupied by the enemy but I think this show depicts it as good as possible. Yes, the Germans were "just people" until they did something to make the people realize that they WERE in control. To fraternize or not? How would I have acted in that situation. . . . Makes one think.

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22 out of 30 people found the following review useful:


Author: Amytheruleroftheworld from scotland
23 August 2004

I think that many people are being very cynical about this. i think nowadays people have the misconception that everything that they watch must be original and groundbreaking. Island at war is a nice wee drama, you don't have to think about what is happening it is all there in front of you. Do people really want to be watching things that stimulate the mind NO i think is the answer to that, especially not on a Sunday night. The acting was all of a very good quality and i have to say i feel it says a lot about the story as prestigious actors such as james wilby being in it. I think it also showed a true outlook on times in the Nazi occupied channel-islands, as it didn't make it seem ridiculously awful, it didn't make all the Germans seem like extremist nazi's it showed them as humans, also as much as people may not like to believe it but British women and German men did get together it was inevitable. Over all i thought that island at war was no masterpiece but it was very nice and easy watching of a Sunday and people shouldn't be so critical of it

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Island At War

Author: rikkitiki22 from United States
21 February 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What a great show? I loved the Zelda/Walker dynamic as well as the "ship" there. I know, a Jew and a German,but it could work if he chucked his Jewish reservations. I liked the subtle acting ,facial expressions of Colin Mullen(Walker) and Louisa Clein(Zelda/Hannah). When he tells her they're sending German Jews away,her eyes turns teary(For good reason). The music for the scenes and certain actors are just right and the writing for Zelda and Walker are good and snarky. SPOILERS COMING!! HEAD FOR THE HILLS!! HIDE THE KIDS!!! The ending sucked. Zelda ends up living an Anne Frank like life in her own "Secret Annex", Walker says he'll keep sniffing around till he finds her,Bernhardt and Angie are together but then what and the Wilf,Phil and Senator angle.Prison? And then? I'm going to write "War" fanfic and start an I-Petition for a second series.

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9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Sympathy for Sexi Nazis

Author: Danusha_Goska Save Send Delete
17 August 2009

"Island at War" is an odd duck – maybe more of a platypus, a hybrid creature. As far as production values go, there's nothing to complain of here. The cast is first rate, from the largest role to the smallest. The performances are very real and affecting. The WW II era Channel Islands setting – shops, costumes, cars, music – appears authentic and convincing.

There's a venerable tradition of the most gloriously unrealistic, star-crossed, soap opera romance during the World War Two era – the pinnacle of that cinematic tradition would have to be "Casablanca." And then there are the more gritty, relatively realistic films that depict World War Two for the hell it was – "Schindler's List," for example.

There are a couple of scenes in "Island at War" that are very hard to watch. In one, a drugged Englishwoman is handcuffed to a metal hospital bed. Her legs have been spread; she's exposed and defenseless to the worst assault imaginable. A Gestapo torturer stands over her, ready to do whatever he has to do to get her to cooperate.

On the other hand, "Island At War" contains several scenes more appropriate to a "Casablanca" style WWII romance. Here's the kicker – the male lead in this star-crossed romantic triangle is a high ranking Nazi commander, the leader of the invading forces. No attempt is made to make this Nazi a prisoner of his own conscience who hides secret resistance to the Nazi agenda and who will somehow acquit himself. Rather, he goes out of his way to state that experience has taught him that he could command his own men to shoot each other to death for no other reason than because he has told them to do so. Thus, he makes it clear that he has committed his share of empty mass murders for the Nazi cause. This Nazi, Rheingarten, is played in a most charismatic manner by Philip Glenister. Glenister's given several scenes to develop a sympathetic character. He strips off his Nazi uniform jacket and helps a common laborer erect a stone wall, offering warm paternal mentoring as he does so; he kisses the hand of Mrs. Dorr, the woman for whom he yearns, and is attentive to her in other ways; he sheds tears over a death. Rheingarten is depicted as nothing so much as the ideal husband and father: quietly rational, thoughtful, sentimental, careful of others' feelings, masterful when in command, and handy to have around the house. If this depiction of a Nazi does not rankle you, we need to start from scratch.

"I like this series. It doesn't present the stereotype of Nazis as killing machines," one viewer wrote. Perhaps this viewer has been brainwashed by Political Correctness, which insists that there is no such thing as truth, but, rather, only stereotypes and images. The truth is that the Nazis *were* killing machines. There were not only death camps like Auschwitz and Treblinka; there was also Nazi warfare that violated all civilized norms. I dare anyone who insists that nice guys dreamed up, and then deployed, the Einsatzgruppen, the gas vans, the murder of handicapped children, the Blitzkrieg in Poland. Watch documentary footage like "Triumph of the Will;" study archival photos of Nazis in action. Most were not, unlike Philip Glenister, handsome. Even those that were handsome have the look of hardened killers. Sure, Nazis could be charming; even Fania Fenellon, who survived Auschwitz, described Mengele as an always well-dressed, charming man. But superficial charm and immaculate clothing are not the same as goodness. Baron Rheingarten is depicted not just as handsome, not just as well dressed, not just as masterful, but also as fair and good, and that is something that the Nazis were not. Had they been, the between fifty and seventy million people killed during WW II might not have died. Some might argue that the Channel Islands occupation was different; Nazis were much nicer there. In fact, the Jews on the Channel Islands were rounded up by Nazis, with English collaboration, and murdered in Auschwitz. Unless I missed it, this is not mentioned in the series.

"Island at War" attempts to deal with the badness of Nazism by featuring good Nazis versus bad Nazis, sort of like good cop v. bad cop. Rheingarten is the good, and hot, Nazi. Walker is the bad one. Walker of course, also played by a handsome, charismatic actor, is also hot. Okay. History lesson learned.

Another odd feature of this series. If you came to it with no knowledge of World War Two, you might conclude that Nazism was a movement much like Robert Bly's "Men's Movement." It made men cry and beg women for romantic attention. The women all refuse, and the men become very frustrated. A good portion of the scenes in "Island at War" depicts attentive, love-starved Nazi men ever so timidly and politely begging English women for some sugar; the coy English flirts only tease them in return. Lieutenant Walker all but gets on his knees to Zelda, the English girl of his dreams, who rebuffs him with all the coldness of a dominatrix: "You repel me." This scene is a killer – Walker is the bad Nazi, and in this scene, you really want the writers to plumb the mysteries of evil. How could such a bad man love so purely? Can the love of a good woman save a bad man? There is no exploration of these themes. Like most other Island women, Zelda puts herself in compromising positions with a Nazi man, and then blows him off.

I'll say one thing for this series. After watching it years ago, I never forget Philip Glenister's performance. I studied it again when the series came out on DVD. He really is doing something special here, and one only wishes he had a better, more coherent, more integral role in which to work his mojo.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A Dramatization True to Events

Author: Al Rodbell from Carlsbad CA
19 May 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

We watched this over three nights on Netflix in the U.S., knowing little about the actual history of the times portrayed. We went on Wikipedia to read up to the invasion to see whether the specifics, The Germans bombed the island since they were never told that England had withdrawn all forces, which was a de-facto surrender given they were the island's military.

We only read about the occupation after seeing the complete series, and learned that the depiction of the one Jewish women, was an accurate dramatization of how this group was treated - laws imposed reluctantly and not enforced etc.

There is a scene when the one one British spy was captured, and the German commandant said he must be executed to show the people that they mean business. In a similar light, that character had to be shown to be executed to represent the small number but reality of certain residents being killed for overt opposition.

This series seems to have captured the complex history of those five years with very little liberties taken. The writers deserve special praise for conveying reality with such deft story telling.

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One of the best series EVER! What happened ??

Author: catherinezoltan
18 October 2015

I was crushed for no season 2!!! A great story unfolding human dilemma personal and social during civil unrest. Showcasing the inconvenient truths and critical decisions people are forced to make against their humanity in times of crisis. Far more intelligent and relevant than Downton's Abbey and many other series that have lasted through several seasons. The struggles with cross purposes and apposing goals, human reaction and emotion, was written and acted, cast, with perfection. This was way ahead of it's time. Worthy of Oscar winning seasons even today! You are led into the hearts and minds of every character and invited to fell in love with every one of them, just a little. Not a show you will be able to put out of your mind or forget.

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:


Author: texmaderfelt from United States
3 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The heroes and heroines in this movie were often so grossly inept it was irritating to watch. Nevertheless, the paradox is that the series effectively builds enough suspense to inspire watching in spite of the bumbling actions of the Islanders.

It was near impossible to admire or like many of the characters in this series be they heroes, victims or villains. As expected the Germans were almost all villains in some form or another but the Islanders were for the most part bumbling idiots. The weak willed Senator is so incredibly senseless he actually convinces an equally senseless spy to turn himself in using an obviously half-baked scheme for cover. From the senile old grandmother who initially blows the spies cover to the friends and family who all too often take extraordinary risks to make casual contact with those in hiding, the Islander protagonists are a pathetic incompetent lot indeed. A real spy would have at best gagged or knocked unconscious his wailing partner and a competent mother and father would have assumed they were never free from prying eyes and ears.

The young German flyer evokes genuine sympathy while the rest of the Germans are clearly the bad guys. The Jewish girl, the Bobby and his wife are admirable. The rest of the Islanders I wouldn't trust to walk my dog.

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