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TV series 'Our mothers, our fathers' bags Emmy

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TV series 'Our mothers, our fathers' bags Emmy
Champagne time for "Our mothers, our fathers" in New York. Photo: DPA
10:48 CET+01:00
The 4.5-hour production by Germany's ZDF channel scooped up a coveted trophy in New York on Monday evening with its tales of ordinary lives sucked into the horrors of World War Two.

Telling the story of five young people caught up in the Second World War, the German mini-series beat off stiff competition from Brazil, Japan and Britain at the prestigious awards ceremony.

But a second German hopeful in the documentary category,  "The Wagner Files", failed to move jurors.

Set in three 90-minute instalments, "Our mothers, our fathers" won plentiful accolades in Germany and Austria before it was picked up by television networks elsewhere in Europe.

The series by director Philipp Kadelbach and writer Stefan Kolditz also drew criticism abroad, however, for portraying Germans as much as victims as perpetrators in the war.

But it barely registered with viewers in the United States, where it was shown in seven US cinemas  under the name "Generation War" and grossed only 92,000 dollars in receipts. It  also drew a lukewarm reception from viewers on Netflix.

Critics gave the work a very mixed reception, often within the same reviews.  The New Yorker magazine slammed the series' dependence on the "conventions of soap opera and popular melodrama," saying "some of it comes close to inanity".

But it conceded that it "may be clunky, but it’s never dull, and, once you start watching, you can't stop".

Battle scenes to die for 

The magazine also praised "the best representation of close combat ever filmed", deeming the battle scenes as more coherent than even Steven Spielberg's depictions in the hit WWII television series "Band of Brothers".

As much as anything, “Our mothers, our fathers" sparked a vigorous debate about how to view the culpability of ordinary Germans who served the Nazi cause, voluntarily or otherwise.

In Germany it  was widely praised for its sense of accountability. The New Yorker review also noted that "the old accepted notion that the barbarians were confined to the S.S. and the Gestapo has been cast aside".

Meanwhile, not even condensing the onerous title of "Wagnerwahn - Mythos und Machenschaften des Richard Wagner" (Wagner mania - myth and machinations of Richard Wagner) to "The Wagner files" could help the documentary production's fortunes.  Its creators left the New York ceremony empty-handed.

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