New Netflix series narrated by Meryl Streep to tell story of how Hollywood faced fascism during World War II

The Oscar-winning actress will front Five Came Back, a three-part documentary series about cinema and propaganda during the Second World War


Netflix has revealed details of new film series Five Came Back, an ambitious three-part documentary narrated by Meryl Streep aiming to tell the story of Hollywood during the Second World War.


The series will look at the work of five award-winning directors – John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens – and explore how their experience documenting and participating in World War II helped them produce their greatest work.

The three episodes are narrated by Meryl Streep, and also include contributions from five modern filmmakers: Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Guillermo Del Toro, Paul Greengrass and Lawrence Kasdan. They explain how Hollywood responded to the threat of Nazism and Hitler via the big screen, and brought the war home to millions of cinema goers.

Watch the trailer for Five Came Back below

“Early on, Hollywood realised that it had a tremendous tool or weapon for change, through cinema,” explains director Steven Spielberg in the new series.

“Cinema in its purest form could be put in the service of propaganda,” adds Frances Ford Coppola. “Hitler and his minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels understood the power of the cinema to move large populations toward your way of thinking.”

The three-part series is based on the book by author Mark Harris, Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War, and is directed by Laurent Bouzereau.

“These filmmakers, at that time, had a responsibility in that what they were putting into the world would be taken as truth. You can see a lot of echoes in what is happening today,” says director Bouzereau.

“It became clear as we were doing this series that the past was re-emerging in some ways, including the line we see that separates cinema that exists for entertainment and cinema that carries a message. And politics is more than ever a part of entertainment. I find it courageous of filmmakers then, as with artists today, to speak up for those who don’t have a platform.”


Netflix will release the series on Friday 31st March. Alongside the series, the on demand service will make available 13 films made by the five directors during the war, including Ford’s The Battle of Midway and Stevens’ Nazi Concentration Camps.


Lisa Nishimura, Netflix vice president of original documentary programming, said, “This series is an added dimension to Netflix’s slate of diverse content, a cinephile’s dream that will also introduce a new generation of viewers to these legendary directors and their classic films.”