Netflix makes a series of “All the Light We Cannot See”

June 21, 2023 • 1:20 pm

In a “3-minute read” (oy, I hate this timing thing), yahoo! entertainment has announced that it will make a “limited series” of my favorite modern novel of the last several decades, 2014’s All the Light We Cannot Seewhich won the fiction Pulitzer Prize for author Anthony Doerr in 2015.  I described and lauded the book in August of last year, and if you haven’t read it yet, you’re a schnook.

Here’s the too-short trailer:

I have to add that I recently read another great modern novel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, published in author Muriel Barbery’s original French in 2006 and then two years later in a wonderful English translation rendered by Alison Anderson. This is right up there with the novel above, but it will take a few years to see which made the greatest impression on me. (I just found out there’s a French movie, “The Hedgehog,” based on Barbery’s book, and it gets an 87% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I must see it).

I also have to say that I’m worried that the Netflix version of Doerr’s book won’t come up to snuff, as only very rarely has a movie equaled or surpassed the quality of a book I’ve loved (two notable instances are The Last Picture Show, a great book and an even greater movie, and The Bridges of Madison County, a horrible stinkeroo of a novel but a pretty good movie).

I think most of us form a picture in our minds of the character’s appearance, the nature of the surroundings, and even what voices sound like. And the movie rarely matches these, causing somewhat of a letdown. I can already sense it coming from the trailer above: the girl Maurie-Laure looks nothing like what I imagined.

I will watch the “limited series,” but I’m definitely dampening my expectations. As my motto goes, “A pessimist is never disappointed.”


h/t: Divy

10 thoughts on “Netflix makes a series of “All the Light We Cannot See”

  1. Yeah, the young woman doesn’t look much like what I pictured Marie-Laure in my mind’s eye, though the German lad isn’t far from how I pictured Werner.

    Anyway, I’m willing to cut filmmakers pretty broad slack regarding casting. The main problem with making a movie from a great novel is that so much of the subtlety and subtext is lost in turning a 500+ page novel into a two-hour or so movie.

    1. I believe that Netflix is legally obligated to race or gender swap at least 1 main character. Be grateful they didn’t change the German man into a woman.

  2. Apparently, this limited series will consist of four parts/episodes. Assuming each part is an hour-ish, that’s a decent runtime for a novel adaptation. (Though… the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit” was seven episodes, and based [I think] on a much shorter book.)

    Also — it seems the producers were keen to cast a blind actor in the main role. Which they did.

  3. The advantage of a limited series is that they have more than two hours to tell the story, so they don’t have the same need to hack and slash in order to fit it the time constraints. On the other hand, people that adapt written works can’t seem to resist making key plot changes for no discernible reason.

    I’ve not yet read the book, so I’m sure I will enjoy the series. Perhaps it will inspire me to read the novel. I always find it easier to enjoy the novel after watching the film than it is to enjoy a film after reading the book!

  4. Anyone who thinks this piece of melodramatic soap operatic drek is a great novel… is a schnook, a shlemiel, and a putz.

  5. Schlep, schlemiel, schlemazzl…..schlep: clumsy oaf who knocks the iron off the ironing board. Schlemiel: the guy on whose foot it lands; schlmazzl: the guy who says tsk, tsk, tsk.

  6. Thanks for recommending “All the Light We Cannot See”. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to the Netflix series. I am cautiously optimistic that Netflix will do a good job.
    It is a mistake to assume a movie director should blindly follow the original novel. Many times (but not always) the result is an improvement on the original.

  7. One of the most abominable hatchet jobs on a great novel was the movie version of “Corelli’s Mandolin” with Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz. Just dreadful. On the other hand, the TV series adaptation of John le Carré’s “The Night Manager” with Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie was head and shoulders above the book, as well as being, IMO, one of the best limited series of all time. So it could go either way, but the odds are in favor of it going south.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *