We Recommend: Birdsong

Oh, I do so recommend Birdsong.

What can I say about Birdsong that will make you as excited as my friends and I have been ever since we saw a glimpse of a title card after the second episode of Sherlock?

Well, I could tell you about how amazing the book is and how I’ve not met a single person who didn’t love it.

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I could tell you about how it’s been written by Abi Morgan (writer on The Iron Lady and The Hour) and has been adapted by the BBC in association with Working Title.

I could sing the praises of the cast, which has Eddie Redmayne (My Week with Marilyn, Glroious 39, Tess of the D’Urbevilles) and Clémence Poésy (Fleur from Harry Potter) in the starring roles.

Or I could show you the trailer. In fact, I’ll do that anyway.



But I think the best thing I can do is show you a review by someone who has actually seen it. Blonde has seen the first episode of Birdsong, and has this to say about it:

“I was a bit worried when I’d heard they’d adapted Birdsong for telly. I love the book, and so often when you see a screen adaptation of a book you love, you’re left feeling like the victim of an ill-judged one night stand: disappointed, empty and vaguely cheated despite it being your decision to go through with the thing in the first place.
 
But approximately three seconds into the preview screening of the first episode at BAFTA last week, my fears were allayed and by the tenth minute, I was sobbing noisily into my boyfriend’s shoulder.

The screenplay jumps between Stephen's time in the trenches and his love affair with Isabelle: the juxtaposition between war and love quite clearly shows the intensities and epic natures of both, as well as the similarities – the violence of love, and the closeness and intimacy between men serving on the front line – and differences – the ecstasy and despair that love and war entail.

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The whole thing is beautiful to look at, from the epic scale of the desolation of the front line to the sumptuous, lavish setting of well-to-do domestic France – and that includes the main characters. Eddie Redmayne's portrayal of a detached Stephen is perfect, though nowhere near as perfect as his cheekbones, which frankly should be made illegal.

Whilst the first part, at least, might suffer from the accusations of being rather sentimental, and overscored in places, neither of those things detract from this utterly sublime adaptation: I staggered out of the screening, eyeliner most of the way down my face, desperate to see the second part. Whether my heart (and tear ducts) will be able to take it remains to be seen.”

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Still need convincing? Read Katie Khan’s post on the subject. Everyone who has seen or researched Birdsong is in love with it. It is going to be excellent television. Don’t miss it.

Watch Birdsong on BBC One at 9:00pm on the 22nd January. Find out more about the show here.

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