This series offers highly intelligent drama with all the characteristic subtleties of character and human foibles that British filmmaking captures so well. But the main point of my writing this review is to tell how unique this series is on two accounts.
First, the series intricately depicts a subtle ostracism of Jews, those who were not quite of age and not in Europe during World War II, by Jews who were of age and/or were in Europe.
Also well depicted, somewhat allegorically, are the subtle (and not so subtle) prejudices and manipulations exercised against upper middle-class British Jews by British rank and society and the Allied forces.
Second, the series very well illustrates the mystique possessed by those who directly suffered the Second World War and the effect of that mystique upon those who were sheltered from the war's harshest realities by age (if only a crucial few years), location, or social status.
This series would be heartfelt to anyone who has had (or still has) the good fortune to know someone who embodied the aforementioned mystique. It is true that those whose early lives were most defined by the war became possessed of a "brand" upon the personality that inspired instant curiosity and a certain reverence.
This series dramatizes this mystique through the relationship between the two main characters, the two Jewish boys, who grow to manhood, and who have little in common other than their heritage; however, it is their shared heritage that gives them parallel experiences of completely opposite details, including the details of their own dubious friendship, which spans close to thirty years.
Within the complex relationship between the two main characters is a further dramatization of this wartime mystique that involves a free-thinking young woman, a French Jew, Pierrette Levi, who, under Nazi occupation of France, witnessed not only the murder of her grandfather, her only relative, but suffered betrayal and yet had willing sexual involvement with her betrayer. For the one character, the rough Joe Hirsch, Pierrette represents his connection to all that he was forced to leave as a child refugee of Nazi-occupied Europe, and for the other character, the refined Michael Jordan, Pierrette represents the worldly, gritty attraction of events and experiences from which he was completely sheltered, in general, and throughout the war.
Both characters fall in love with Pierrette, though it is actually her mystique with which they fall in love, and through this mystique, it is actually the war - the war they never saw - with which they fall in love in the sense of romanticizing, though in opposite ways, even the war's ugliest realities.
The dialogue throughout this series carries weight and truth, much of it timeless and much historical, in every word - and in-between every word - listen closely!