'Masterpiece: Home Fires'
(Clare Calbraith, Samantha Bond, Daisy Badger, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2015 / PBS)
Overview: In a Cheshire village during World War II, the Great Paxford's Women's Institute unites women of all classes and backgrounds who have come together to assist in the war effort. As the Battle of Britain is underway, these volunteers attempt to lay aside their past lives and undertake a variety of new tasks at the government's behest. Even far from the front, though, the ladies find that conflict is inevitable-even among themselves.
DVD Verdict: It is an absolute delight to see a drama about the Second World War from the women's perspective. From the outset I was gripped by the characters. The anxiety among the entire village of what might be to come casts a pall over the country in the late summer of 1939. Stunning sets and achingly beautiful cinematography with sweeping shots of the glorious Cheshire countryside, this drama nevertheless holds the promise of great menace and danger to come.
Simon Block has created characters that are emotionally intelligent and with great integrity and authenticity, translated effortlessly into outstanding performances by a stellar cast. The imminence of the war and the women's determination not to be cowed by whatever the next few months might bring is never stronger than in the very first scene: strong femininity versus the brutal machines of war. I know whose side I am on. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.