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Series 1 - Episode 1
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Sebastian Faulks’s beloved novel finally makes it to the screen in a captivating production scripted by Abi Morgan (of The Hour and The Iron Lady). Once, the likes of Ralph Fiennes and Daniel Day-Lewis were attached to movie versions, but in the end it’s rising star Eddie Redmayne who takes the role of Stephen Wraysford, the mysterious lieutenant swallowed up by the First World War but treasuring the summer he spent with a wealthy French family before the war — and the affair it led to.
Morgan’s adaptation flips smoothly between the two settings, the elegant sunlit world of pre-war Amiens and the khaki-grey misery of the trenches.
It looks beautiful when it should and feels appallingly ugly when it should, the measured pace interrupted by flashes of horror and later, passion. The latter comes courtesy of Clémence Poésy as quietly luminous Isabelle, trapped in an empty marriage with an older man.
Crucially, she and Redmayne click: you believe that beneath their stolen glances there’s a world of buried struggle.
First of a two-part drama based on Sebastian Faulks' novel about two lovers drawn together then torn apart by the First World War. In the France of 1910, Englishman Stephen Wraysford arrives to work at the textile factory of the Azaire family, only to fall desperately in love with his host's wife Isabelle. Before long, the pair begin an illicit and all-consuming affair, with huge consequences for them both. Eddie Redmayne and Clemence Poesy star as the lovers, with support from Joseph Mawle, Richard Madden and Matthew Goode. Adapted by Abi Morgan, writer of The Hour and The Iron Lady.
Full Episode Guide
How Eddie Redmayne's love of art sent him back to World War One
The Oscar-winning actor appears this week in a documentary about the art of the First World War - but what got him involved?
Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston linked to new movie Journey's End
Game of Thrones and Birdsong stars cast in Sky remake of The Bridge
From Birdsong to Les Misérables, Eddie Redmayne is taking Hollywood by storm
Bafta TV Awards 2012 nominees: Supporting Actor - who should win?
Joseph Mawle: Birdsong was a fantastic journey
Blackadder Goes Forth was more powerful than Birdsong
Birdsong made me want to read the book
I was bored by Birdsong
Pardon? Grumbles as Birdsong actors mumble
Eddie Redmayne: “Birdsong was an insane shoot”
Sebastian Faulks tells the real story of Birdsong