All the Light We Cannot See (miniseries)

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All the Light We Cannot See
Based onAll the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
Developed bySteven Knight
Written bySteven Knight
Directed byShawn Levy
Music byJames Newton Howard
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes4
Executive producers
ProducerMary McLaglen
CinematographyTobias A. Schliessler
Running time57 minutes
Production companies21 Laps Entertainment
Nebula Star
Original release
ReleaseNovember 2, 2023 (2023-11-02)

All the Light We Cannot See is an American historical drama miniseries directed by Shawn Levy and developed by Steven Knight for Netflix.[1][2] Based on Anthony Doerr's novel,[3][4] it stars Aria Mia Loberti, Mark Ruffalo and Hugh Laurie.[5][6] The four-part series follows the stories of a blind French girl named Marie-Laure and a German soldier named Werner, whose paths cross in occupied France during World War II.[7][8]

The limited series was released on November 2, 2023.


All the Light We Cannot See follows the lives of two teenagers during the height of World War II: Marie-Laure, a blind French girl and Werner Pfennig, a German boy forced to join and fight for the Nazi regime.[9]

Cast and characters[edit]


  • Aria Mia Loberti as Marie-Laure LeBlanc, a blind French teenage girl and the daughter of Daniel LeBlanc
  • Louis Hofmann as Unterfeldwebel Werner Pfennig, a young German boy who eventually becomes a soldier specializing in detecting and tracking radio frequencies.
  • Lars Eidinger as Standartenführer Reinhold von Rumpel, an officer of the SS who certifies and evaluates art, jewelry.
  • Hugh Laurie as Etienne LeBlanc, a reclusive World War I veteran suffering from PTSD and the great-uncle of Marie-Laure
  • Mark Ruffalo as Daniel LeBlanc, father of Marie-Laure and a locksmith at the Museum of Natural History in Paris
  • Marion Bailey as Madame Manec

Recurring guest stars[edit]


No.TitleDirected by [10]Teleplay by [1]Original release date [11]
1"Episode 1"Shawn LevySteven KnightNovember 2, 2023 (2023-11-02)
During the Battle of Saint-Malo, blind French teenager Marie-Laure LeBlanc illegally broadcasts excerpts from the novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea over a radio. Her broadcasts contain coded messages for the French Resistance, as relayed by her great-uncle Etienne. Werner Pfennig, a teenage German radio operator with the occupying Nazi forces, secretly listens to Marie-Laure's broadcasts without turning her in. A new radio operator is assigned to assist Werner, but Werner kills him to protect Marie-Laure. Reinhold von Rumpel, a Nazi jeweler who believes Marie-Laure's missing father Daniel has left the Sea of Flames, a cursed diamond rumored to bestow immortality, corners Marie-Laure in a grotto and demands the diamond's location.
2"Episode 2"Shawn LevySteven KnightNovember 2, 2023 (2023-11-02)
Flashbacks to 1940 show that during the Parisian surrender to Germany, Daniel organized the smuggling of valuables out of the Museum of Natural History before fleeing Paris with Marie-Laure to Saint-Malo, and that Werner was recruited into the brutal National Political Institutes of Education after repairing an official's radio. Both of them listened to the broadcasts of a Frenchman called "The Professor". In 1944, Marie-Laure escapes von Rumpel as Werner's superior Müller demands that he uncover her location. They track her to her house.
3"Episode 3"Shawn LevySteven KnightNovember 2, 2023 (2023-11-02)
Etienne and Werner kill Müller and his subordinate. Flashbacks show that Marie-Laure and Daniel, secretly carrying the Sea of Flames, arrive in the Saint-Malo home of their aunt Manec and uncle Etienne, whom Marie-Laure recognizes as the Professor. Daniel measures the town to build a model for Marie-Laure and attracts the attention of the Gestapo. The resistance plans to throw the Germans off his trail, but Daniel is arrested. Meanwhile, after excelling in radio-related tasks at the Institute, Werner is sent to the Eastern Front despite his young age. In 1944, Etienne brings Werner to a Resistance base for a trial and vouches for him. As American forces arrive in Saint-Malo, von Rumpel arrives at Marie-Laure's address.
4"Episode 4"Shawn LevySteven KnightNovember 2, 2023 (2023-11-02)
Ahead of Operation Overlord, Marie-Laure and Etienne begin to collect messages on behalf of the resistance and Manec dies. As Allied forces bombard Saint-Malo, von Rumpel reveals to Marie-Laure that he had tortured and killed Daniel. Meanwhile, Etienne is killed in a blast and asks Werner to protect Marie-Laure. Werner arrives at the house and the two overpower and kill von Rumpel. Marie-Laure takes Werner to Etienne's attic, where Werner broadcasts a message to his sister and the two share a dance. Werner surrenders to the Americans and Marie-Laure throws the Sea of Flames into the sea.


In March 2019, Netflix and 21 Laps Entertainment acquired the rights to develop a limited television series adaptation of the novel with Shawn Levy, Dan Levine and Josh Barry executive producing.[9][4] In September 2021, it was announced that Netflix had given the production a series order consisting of four episodes, with Steven Knight writing the series and Levy directing all episodes.[10] In December 2021, it was announced that Aria Mia Loberti would play as Marie-Laure.[12]

In January 2022, it was announced that both Mark Ruffalo and Hugh Laurie joined the cast, set as leads opposite Loberti. Ruffalo is set to portray Daniel LeBlanc, while Laurie will portray Etienne LeBlanc.[13] In February 2022, it was announced that Louis Hofmann, Lars Eidinger and Nell Sutton joined the cast.[14] Filming took place between March and July 2022 in Budapest, Saint-Malo and Villefranche-de-Rouergue (Aveyron department, south of France), with the main scenes (street, bombings, Saint-Malo liberation) being filmed in the latter. This town was chosen for its ancient central square similar to Saint-Malo's before the World War II destruction, and for its familiar 1940s style streets. The shooting in Villefranche-de-Rouergue took place from July 5 to 20, 2022. A large part of the town was adapted for all production needs.[15]


Composer James Newton Howard wrote the musical score for the series.[16]


On April 18, 2023, first look photos and the first teaser trailer for the series were released. It was also announced that the series was scheduled to be released on November 2, 2023.[17]

Differences from the book[edit]

Etienne, Marie-Laure’s great uncle, died in the series. In the book however he was put in prison and eventually got out and reunited with Marie-Laure.[18]

Werner's extended backstory in the book from his childhood and training with the Nazi was condensed at the start of the series. And near the end, his role in saving Marie-Laure was also significantly altered. In the book, he killed Reinhold von Rumpel to protect Marie-Laure, while in the series, Werner helped Marie-Laure by fighting Reinhold von Rumpel and distracting him from finding her, but it's Marie at the end who managed to fatally shoot von Rumpel.[19]

Another key difference is the extended encounter and a moment of romance between the two main characters, which did not happen in the book. In the book, Marie-Laure and Werner met only for a short time after he saved her at her hideout and before he was captured by the Allied Soldiers. In the series, they instead had more than a few hours together at her place, where they had a slow dance and a kiss. Author Anthony Doerr has shared that over the years he had received feedbacks from "lots of readers" reflecting their disappointment at the brief encounter of the two main characters near the end of the story, which had been built-up throughout their separate storylines in the book.[20] He saw the miniseries as a remedy for this to the fans of the original story who wanted more.

In addition, the series ended after the teenaged Marie-Laure threw the Sea of Flames stone into the ocean; while in the book, the storyline moved on to decades later when the old Marie-Laure, now over 80 and once again living in Paris, received the miniature house and the key that once belong to her, back from Werner's sister.[18] With this major removal of the storyline in the later years, Jutta, Werner's sister, therefore does not re-appear; and she and Marie-Laure never cross path in the series.[19]


The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 27% approval rating with an average rating of 5.1/10, based on 63 critic reviews. The website's critics consensus reads, "While All the Light We Cannot See has a bright cast, its potential is often snuffed out by a tonally awkward blend of serious and silly."[21] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 36 out of 100 based on 26 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable" reviews.[22]

The decision to cast legally blind actors to play the role of the main character Marie-Laure was praised for its breakthrough representation of blind and low-vision performers.[23] Critics also praised the casting choice of Aria Mia Loberti as Marie-Laure and the visuals, but felt it fell short of capturing the depth and nuance of the source material. Particularly criticized were the characterization and dialogue, with some feeling that the adaptation missed the mark in exploring the complexities of its Nazi-affiliated protagonist.[24][25][26]


  1. ^ a b "All the Light We Cannot See". Writers Guild of America West. September 9, 2022. Retrieved April 19, 2023.
  2. ^ "Watch All the Light We Cannot See". Netflix. Retrieved January 15, 2022.
  3. ^ "Mark Ruffalo and Hugh Laurie Join Netflix Adaptation of 'All the Light We Cannot See'". Collider. January 10, 2022. Retrieved January 15, 2022.
  4. ^ a b Hibberd, James (April 18, 2023). "Netflix's 'All The Light We Cannot See' Trailer: WWII Epic From 'Stranger Things' Director". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 18, 2023.
  5. ^ Petski, Denise (January 10, 2022). "Mark Ruffalo & Hugh Laurie Join 'All The Light We Cannot See' Netflix Limited Series Adaptation". Deadline. Retrieved January 15, 2022.
  6. ^ Zhan, Jennifer (January 10, 2022). "Mark Ruffalo to Play a Locksmith Dad in Netflix's All the Light We Cannot See". Vulture. Retrieved January 15, 2022.
  7. ^ Porter, Rick (January 10, 2022). "Mark Ruffalo, Hugh Laurie Board 'All the Light We Cannot See' at Netflix". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 15, 2022.
  8. ^ Maas, Jennifer (January 10, 2022). "Mark Ruffalo, Hugh Laurie Join Netflix's 'All the Light We Cannot See' Limited Series". Variety. Retrieved January 15, 2022.
  9. ^ a b Petski, Denise (March 12, 2019). "Netflix & Shawn Levy's 21 Laps Developing 'All The Light We Cannot See' Novel As Limited Series". Deadline Hollywood.
  10. ^ a b White, Peter (September 22, 2021). "Shawn Levy & Steven Knight's Limited Series Adaptation Of WWII Story 'All The Light We Cannot See' Gets Series Order At Netflix, Opens Casting Call". Deadline Hollywood.
  11. ^ "Shows A-Z – All the Light We Cannot See on Netflix". The Futon Critic. Retrieved April 19, 2023.
  12. ^ Petski, Denise (December 9, 2021). "'All The Light We Cannot See': Newcomer Aria-Mia Loberti, Who Is Blind, Cast As Female Lead In Netflix Limited Series Adaptation". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 10, 2021.
  13. ^ Petski, Denise (January 10, 2022). "Mark Ruffalo & Hugh Laurie Join 'All The Light We Cannot See' Netflix Limited Series Adaptation". Deadline Hollywood.
  14. ^ Petski, Denise (February 3, 2022). "'All The Light We Cannot See': Louis Hofmann To Star, Two More Cast In Netflix Series Adaptation". Deadline Hollywood.
  15. ^ "All The Light We Cannot See : les coulisses du tournage à Villefranche-de-Rouergue". Villefranche-de-Rouergue officiel (in French). Retrieved July 13, 2022.
  16. ^ "James Newton Howard To Score Netflix's 'All The Light We Cannot See'". Film Music Reporter. March 8, 2022.
  17. ^ Cordero, Rosy (April 18, 2023). "'All The Light We Cannot See': Netflix Reveals Premiere Date & Teaser Trailer For Shawn Levy Limited Series". Deadline. Retrieved April 19, 2023.
  18. ^ a b "How Netflix's All the Light We Cannot See Compares to the Pulitzer-Winning Novel". 'TIME'.
  19. ^ a b "ll the Light We Cannot See: 5 Biggest Changes From Book to Series". Vanity Fair.
  20. ^ "All the Light We Cannot See creators explain the ending's key book-to-screen changes". Entertainment Weekly.
  21. ^ "All the Light We Cannot See: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved April 6, 2024.
  22. ^ "All the Light We Cannot See: Season 1". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  23. ^ "Depicting blindness in 'All the Light We Cannot See' 'changed me,' director says". Los Angeles Times. November 3, 2023. Retrieved November 26, 2023.
  24. ^ "Netflix's All the Light We Cannot See Transforms a Pulitzer-Winning Novel Into a Schmaltzy, Incoherent Mess".
  25. ^ "'All the Light We Cannot See' is heartening and hopeful wartime tale".
  26. ^ "All the Light We Cannot See review – this terrible mess is a one-way ticket to Triteland".

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