We first see the exceptional Miep Gies (an incandescent Bel Powley) as she’s main a scared Margot Frank (Ashley Brooke) on bicycle via a Nazi checkpoint. Their vacation spot: the annex the place the Frank household and 4 others will disguise for 2 years from 1942 till their fateful discovery in 1944. Heroism and terror infuse practically each second of A Small Light, a first-rate eight-part docudrama airing over 4 Mondays on the National Geographic Channel. (Episodes will stream the next day on Hulu and Disney+.)
Miep is an important a part of the Anne Frank story, having been a loyal worker for years of Otto Frank (Liev Schreiber in a movingly restrained efficiency of grave dignity) earlier than he was pressured to ask her and her workplace co-workers to danger their lives to guard and fend for his household and associates in the course of the oppressive Nazi occupation. To her credit score, Powley (The Morning Show) brings Miep to life in all of her colours, not all the time noble or heroic.
She’s a flighty mess when she interviews with an amused Frank for her workplace job, determined to be unbiased from her adoptive however hypercritical Dutch household. (Flashbacks to Miep being despatched away for her well being by her Austrian mom as a toddler present a haunting distinction to her relationship with the tight-knit Frank household, who understandably chafe below the restrictions of their secret existence above Otto’s office.)
Miep is headstrong, impulsive, fast to anger when she realizes her closest good friend (Poldark’s Eleanor Tomlinson) is chummy with native Nazi collaborators. And but she’s additionally humorous and attractive, discovering uncommon moments of pleasure and luxury along with her husband Jan (Peaky Blinders’ terrific Joe Cole), who begins working for the resistance with out initially informing his emotionally risky spouse. A Small Light features energy via its depiction of the hazards the Gieses and different Dutch resistance members face, and likewise the trauma when their mission entails separating grownup Jews from their youngsters, many despatched into the countryside for security whereas their mother and father face deportation into the hell of focus camps.
This is, as ever, a harrowing and heartbreaking story, but additionally inspiring at any time when Miep drops in on the Franks and the others hiding of their upstairs cocoon. There are marvelous scenes of Anne (a luminous Billie Boullet) being her stressed and hopeful self, usually bedeviling these round her along with her feisty curiosity, and of her restrained mom Edith (Amira Casar) taking Miep below her wing as a surrogate mom, at one level insisting she put on certainly one of her unused robes to a celebration.
We all know the way it’s going to finish, which doesn’t make the dramatization of the raid in August 1944 any simpler to observe or the sorrow any simpler to bear when Otto returns after the liberation as the only survivor. Miep is resolute in her cussed perception that she may have completed extra.
History tells us that saving younger Anne’s diary was miracle sufficient.
A Small Light, Limited Series Premiere, Monday, May 1, 9/8c (two episodes), National Geographic (streaming subsequent day on Hulu and Disney+)