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Birdsong: Interview with the director

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Fiona Wickham Fiona Wickham | 11:22 UK time, Friday, 27 January 2012

Sebastian Faulks' World War I novel Birdsong is about "the violence of a love affair, and exquisite love in war", says screenwriter Abi Morgan, who has adapted the modern classic for BBC One.

Director Philip Martin told the BBC TV blog about the experience of making the two-part drama.

What drew you to this script?
Abi Morgan's brilliant idea was to intercut between past and present, so that the story switches between pre-war France and WWI itself - to create a great tension. Balancing the love story (the past) with the war story (the present) was the challenge.

What kind of notes did Sebastian Faulks make on the script?
Sebastian was a great collaborator and joined us on location in Budapest. He gave us space to do our thing - but was there to help if we needed it. We all carried battered copies of the novel in our back pockets and I think everyone in the cast and crew spent the whole time trying to find ways to do justice to this epic story.

What does the title mean?
Birdsong doesn't quite stand for a peaceful, natural sound marking the ending of conflict - but actually the indifference of the natural world to the activity of humans. There's a great introduction to the paperback edition from Sebastian, where he talks about the meaning of Birdsong and how he wrote the book. It's fascinating to read, especially as it seems he wrote the book really fast - in a kind of trance.

Isabelle Azaire (Clemence Poesy) and Stephen Wraysford (Eddie Redmayne)

Isabelle Azaire (Clémence Poésy) and Stephen Wraysford (Eddie Redmayne)

This BBC version of Birdsong is described as "painterly" by Ben Stephenson (BBC controller for drama commissioning) - is that how you visualised it?
I wanted pre-war France to feel like a dream: crystal clear yet mysterious. The director of photography, Julian Court and I found a touchstone in a quote from the pre-Raphaelite Edward Burne-Jones, who said a painting should be "a beautiful, romantic dream of something that never was, never will be - in a light better than any light that ever shone - in a land no-one can define or remember, only desire... ".

What were your thoughts on tackling the erotic tone in parts of the book?
It's difficult in any area to translate something from a book to a film - they're both different. But it's particularly tricky with sex. Eddie Redmayne, Clémence Poésy and I spent long hours talking about it and we tried to be very clear about exactly what was going to happen in each moment - so that the build-up of sexual tension was done in a very precise and detailed way. What we tried to do was to make the experience of the audience watching match the intensity of the experience of reading the book.

There are two horrifying deaths in episode one - typical of WWI - how did you decide how gory to be in showing those deaths?
I suppose you try to make the deaths as powerful as possible, without making the audience switch off. The war was brutal and inhuman, with new technological ways of killing, like gas - so it feels important to reflect that fact... but to do so in a way that isn't self-defeating.

Did the actors visit war graves or the sites of conflict?
Both Eddie Redmayne and Joe Mawle visited the battlefields - and went into a newly discovered chalk tunnel in La Boiselle, with Peter Barton, a WWI historical consultant. I think they were some of the first people to be back inside the tunnel since the war itself. They found a poem, written on the chalk wall of the tunnel by a soldier almost 100 years earlier, which was incredibly moving. I also found the 1916 film of the Battle of the Somme extremely useful for research. Even in black and white, you could feel how hot and dusty it was and get a sense of the strange, upbeat energy of the soldiers - which was unlike anything I'd seen before.

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Stephen (Eddie Redmayne) rejoins his men at the front

Were the sets built or on location?
For the war story, we built sets just outside Budapest. I felt the audience's experience of the trenches should be 360, so we searched for a piece of ground which gave us uninterrupted views of the horizon. Production designer Grant Montgomery used hundreds of dead trees, quarried chalk and reclaimed timber to create an extraordinary world. For the French story, set in pre-war Amiens, we filmed on location in Budapest. This was perhaps the trickiest bit, as there's no tradition of the kind of architecture we were looking for.

Can you tell us a little about the uniforms?
We couldn't find enough uniforms in London - and so decided to make them in Poland. Charlotte Walter the costume designer tracked down a company using looms that made exactly the same cloth the original uniforms, and under the watchful eye of the curator of costumes at the Imperial War Museum, Martin Boswell.

Where do you find the replica guns?
We brought some working guns over from London - which gets complicated and requires lots of paperwork, as everyone seems to think you're about to stage a coup! We also had some terrific Lee-Enfield replicas made in Budapest.

How does an actor safely smash a glass on set without getting hurt in the way that Laurent Lafitte (playing René Azaire) does in episode one?
The glass is made out of spun sugar, so it can smash without being dangerous.

What was your worst moment in production?
There was a day when were due to film a lyrical summer picnic sequence when - predictably - after days of sunshine, the Budapest monsoon began. But the day also contained one of my favourite moments, when Stephen and Isabelle's ankles touch on the boat trip. It's all about body language and eyes and faces... like a wildlife film but with humans in it.

Philip Martin is the director of Birdsong.

Birdsong continues on BBC One and BBC One HD on Sunday, 29 January at 9pm. Episode one is available to watch and download in iPlayer until Sunday, 5 February.

Fiona Wickham is the editor of the BBC TV blog.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.


  • Comment number 1.

    I am no prude but both I and my partner found the sex scenes overly graphic and offensive. They were not erotic at all - just crude. The soldier lying with his guts showing was also too graphic. Then the next day we watched a 1950's movie - also an intense love story. What a difference! The subtlety of the shots made it so beautiful and tender - not like the oral sex and hand in flies scenes in "Birdsong" which were just plain lewd.

  • Comment number 2.

    You have the attention of the director of a successful, widely viewed, critically acclaimed BBC production and you conjur up questions like: "What does the title mean?" And "Were the sets built or on location?". Do you know many working WWI trenches or maintained bombed-out cathedrals? Inane, dumbed-down interview. Awful.

  • Comment number 3.

    Scherrizarde, have you read Birdsong? I found the version on film was very close to my mental image of both the characters and the events. I wouldn't describe the relationship aspect of Birdsong as a love story, but a lust story.

    There was also a warning before the start about the scenes that may people may be upset by, so you made a choice and shouldn't then be surprised at what you saw.

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm currently reading Birdsong after watching the first episode; I think it is important for an audience to see how truly awful and disgusting that war was, it is too often romanticised, no matter how many lives were lost. The dignity and splendor of Remembrance day does not reflect the horrors those soldiers had to face. I found the love scenes very erotic and powerful, much like the one's in the book and I don't think it's about love per-say, he's young and she's never been with anyone really, so it's very much about lust as it is about first love.

  • Comment number 5.

    Watching this, I can see why the novel has not stayed in my mind. Does anyone in the real world - even during the Great War - really talk in slow clipped whispers, staring at each other for long periods, and actually say nothing in the end? Dull beyond belief, i sense little or no character, and even for unsympathetic characters you must have dialogue and action, or you get nowhere. Also, am I the only one to spot the total lack of discipline of British army soldiers when officers are about - I feel sure it wasn't like that then!

  • Comment number 6.

    Well done BBC a great production, well acted, loved it was a change from repeats,
    Thank you....

  • Comment number 7.

    Bird Song was one of the best directed bbc productions that I can remember. Tears to the eyes and never to be forgotten.


  • Comment number 8.

    Simply wonderful. I loved every second. Sensual and brutal with perfect juxtaposition. Thank you BBC for yet another stunning drama.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think Isobel was a bit confused about the identity of the father of her child. She and Steven both had blue eyes but their supposed daughter had brown eyes, the husband's I think!

  • Comment number 10.

    Really enjoyed Birdsong. It was deep and emotional. The story kept me interested, not a dull moment... Very good acting and the scenes with the soilders would be how I would imagine it was back then. The love scenes were exciting, a shame they never got to reunite in the end but a good story line re: the little girl. Thoroughly enjoyed the last scene with Jack and Stephen. It brought tears to my eyes and I even text my Parents and Brother to say that I love them haha re: Jack's words before he died "there is nothing else but to love and be loved" - I loved it - well done, lets have a few more dramas on like that please!!!

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Sally. Re: your comment above... I know loads of people who have a child with different coloured eyes to their parents. It does not mean that the child belongs to someone else. It might mean that the childs colour eyes generate from their grandparents or beyond that (genes).

  • Comment number 12.

    EXCEPTIONAL!!! I enjoyed every single minute of it. Well done to all concerned with this drama it has been a long time since something has had me glued to the TV. Eddie Redmayne now has a new fan, he has the most expressive face of any actor to date. Let's have more drama of this quality please.

  • Comment number 13.

    Well that was wonderful, what a weak comment really but I cannot think of anythig better to sum it up concisely.
    Thanks BBC for the production which was faultless

  • Comment number 14.

    I think most who have complained about this drama have actually missed the point completely, the book on which this is based is (If memory serves me well) way over 500 pages, and in many ways is FAR more descriptive than the TV drama is or could ever be.
    In my view it was a complete success and the stars Isabelle Azaire (Clémence Poésy) and Stephen Wraysford (Eddie Redmayne) were excellent. The mixture of sexual scenes and scenes showing graphically the full horrors and total inhumanity of war, were necessary to create a balance of both extremes. The acting was very real and the script was written (I believe) to extract passion and anger, hurt and loss, without the usual Hollywood over acting and over scripting.
    It was a lesson in pure acting, facial movement and gestures saying everything that needed to be said.
    Director Philip Martin did a fantastic job of making the almost impossible in such a short amount of time and screenwriter Abi Morgan equally did an excellent job in condensing such a huge work into a script of only hours.

    Thank You all involved …

  • Comment number 15.

    I would like to applaud the BBC for screening birdsong, it was brilliant and i wept an ocean at the ending, it was beautifully shot and was tender and violent all at the same time, a fantastic drama and if people were offended there is always an off button or change the channel after all we are all adults and it was after the watershed...well done BBC

  • Comment number 16.

    I have read the book "birdsong" and just finished watching the bbc filmed version which i felt was both epic and beautifully told! I feel I have to comment after reading some if these negative reviews. It brings to life some of the most prominent scenes within the book very tastefully and I am pleased to say the whole thing was exactly as I'd imagined!, and as for eddie redmayne who plays Steven, the main character, his performance in my opinion was stunning, what a magnificent actor!, I understand everyone is entitled to their opinion but i feel you are mad not to appreciate this moving and beautiful film, I would highly recommend it ( as long as you have some tissues at the ready!) brilliant!!

  • Comment number 17.

    I really cannot agree with the negative comments posted here..this was a wonderfully moving production based on an excellent book. The scenes in the trenches although sometimes horrific, were justified to show the true horror of this terrible war. As for the sex, it was passionate, lustful and loving and as others have said here, there was a warning beforehand and it is very easy to switch off if you don't like what you are seeing. I was moved to tears on many occasions throughout tonights episode. Well done the Beeb for a great adaptation.

  • Comment number 18.

    Sorry Sherrizade you are prudes.
    This was the BBC at its very best. Real horror, real passion, real emotions, yet
    wonderfully careful and fine-honed performances.
    Totally agree with impressedone.

  • Comment number 19.

    In truth I have not read the book, but I was privileged to watch this BBC production. It is a superb screen play adaptation, superb acting and in my opinion is a very special drama. This will be remembered as a great BBC series for many years to come. Great job by the BBC staff involved, they should be proud.

  • Comment number 20.

    I have read the book and just finished watching what i beleive was an epic and beatuiful series aired on the BBc. I feel I need to comment after reading some of these negative reviews. The filmed version brought to life for me, the most prominent scenes within the book and they were exactly as I had imagined if not better. It was filmed tastefully without being dishonest to the book. I was completely moved by the whole film so much so I watched it again straight after it had finished with my mum who had missed it. As for eddie redmayne who plays the main character Stephen, I thought his performance was stunning, what a magnificent actor! Actually the entire cast were fantastic, they couldn't have chosen the characters any better! If you are feeling negative towards this film then I feel you have not taken the time to appreciate how beautifully the story has been filmed, it's pace only added to the intensity of an emotional and honest story! So judge for yourself if you have not watched this, it is truly amazing!

  • Comment number 21.

    This was probably a good production, but for me it was spoilt because much of the dialogue was lost because of poor sound quality.
    My hearing is not brilliant, but with headphones I can usually hear as well as most able bodied people. Whereas my wife could probably eavesdrop a whispered conversation at the far end of a tube train (almost). For us, it was only when we turned on subtitles (halfway through the second episode) that we were able to follow the story.

  • Comment number 22.

    Incredibly moving and so beautifully acted, especially Eddie Redmayne and Joe Mawle. Taking us viewers on an emotional journey, through the very depths of despair and the bare brutal truth of war, the dreadful human suffering and the shocking loss of life in the first world war and to the heights of love and romance, myself and my husband were just so moved and cannot stop thinking about this wonderful two part series, this will win awards, well done BBC. It is British Drama at its best. Eddie you are amazing, no wonder you are doing so well. Joe Mawle as Firebrace was incredible too, so moving, you felt his pain when he found out his son died. WOW WOW WOW! Just wish it had been a longer version than two 90 minute epsidoes and its left us wanting more!

  • Comment number 23.

    Absolutly brilliant once again the bbc showes everbody how good they are at making high class drama, I was gripped from start to finish and did not want it to end. It made a change from the crap reality tv that seems to dominate our screens these days. Well done bbc more off the same please.

  • Comment number 24.

    Was the Somme "hot and dusty"? I always thought it was raining solidly for the entire battle.
    That said, the production was superb - especially using the flashback device instead of following the linear progression of the book.
    And at the risk of sounding like a pedant, Eddie Redmayne's eyes are green, which means he carries the dominant "brown eye" gene, so his daughter may well have had brown eyes.
    Good to see excellent BBC Drama, especially straight after "Sherlock".

  • Comment number 25.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the book, which I read some years ago. I found this adaptation rather annoying at times. Too many long, lingering glances accompanied by unnecessary background music. Also some of the dialogue was impossible to hear. Finally, Tipper relied to Steven's question 'How are you Tipper?' with 'Yea, I'm good, thank you sir.' Not in 1916, I think, and if I had my way not in 2012! Having said all that, top marks to the BBC for attempting the adaptation and doing it with style, even if it did not quite come off.

  • Comment number 26.

    I thought the first episode was not as good as the second. Steven appeared to be a bit of a wimp so that any action (ie defending his lover from the husband) seemed out of character. However, the second part made up for the slowness of the first.

    One thing I have been trying to find out about is the music. It sounded very much like Speighel im Speighel by Arvo Part and I thought an excellent choice. What a pity that the BBC constantly fails to give any credits to the music or musicians in their programmes.

    Hello BBC? Can you do this in the future please?

  • Comment number 27.

    Nice program, but in common with many friends, I couldn't make out the dialogue. Luckily I can turn on subtitles in my TV. Really ruined it.

  • Comment number 28.

    The mumbling was terrible and I can't switch on subtitles so missed loads of dialogue. The music (if you can call three notes continually played over and over, music) was unbearable, it ruined every possibly moving scene, it became a joke with us - 'dong dong dong' every time something profound was about to be said or happen. I kept hoping that things would improve and I really wanted to enjoy this but it was a big let down. Eddie was the only good thing.

  • Comment number 29.

    Joe Mawle was excellent; but Eddie Redmayne a magnificent actor? Not for me I am afraid. He appears to have just the one facial expression to cover all emotions. I found myself having to guess what his character was supposed to be thinking during the facial close-ups. I had the same problem with his character in "Pillars of the Earth".

    Perhaps when he is older and has more character to his face, this will cease to be a problem. Until that time, it is my opinion that his acting ability shall remain on par with Roger Moore's left eyebrow.

  • Comment number 30.

    Having been captivated from the first word, Birdsong has long been my favourite read - having re-read so many times, on hearing the book was to be adapted for television I was more than thrilled! In my opinion Faulks would not have allowed the BBC to administer any sort of injustice to his beloved story; of love and war and everything in between - and fittingly they did not! The screenplay was breath-taking and the characters were exact replicas of those live out the story in my imagination. Bravo BBC for giving credit to a literary work of art; Bravo to those who acted out the story with effortless professionalism, they are a credit to themselves. My only question -BBC, when will I be able to purchase the DVD?

  • Comment number 31.

    I have finally sat and watched Birdsong and what a lovely story and wonderfully acted. Brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion and as an true romantic goes to show how when you find true love what an impact it has on your life....... Brillant..... Well done BBC..... one I dont mind paying my TV licence for...

  • Comment number 32.

    Hello everyone, really enjoying reading the range of comments here. Just to pick up on a few - jackreedser #2, sorry you found the interview questions inane. I take your good point about the trenches - clearly those sets were built and I could have made that question more pinpointed. It was what Philip calls the ‘pre-war Amiens’ scenes I was thinking of when I asked that question - the beautiful house Isabelle and René share, and the café in the town. I kept some of the questions fairly broad because a section of viewers won't have read the book - or at least like me, won't have read it recently enough to remember the nuances.

    kentcommentator #26 - hello and thanks for your interest in the music. I've asked this end and it was all composed especially for the series by Nicholas Hooper. That info has now been added to the Birdsong programme page.

    And a-fan-of-faulks #30 - I just did a quick internet search and it seems the DVD of Birdsong can be pre-ordered now from the usual places.

    Thanks everyone here, for taking the time to post your comments on the blog.

  • Comment number 33.

    Well done BBC, you absolutely NAILED it. Must say I was a bit worried when I heard this was being brought to TV as it seemed a bit 'untouchable' to me. But it was wonderful and faultless as far as i'm concerned. Sebastian Faulks - you the man!

  • Comment number 34.

    RE: Kerry. I bet the parents you know are brown eyed with blue eyed children? Its not possible for 2 blue eyed parents to have brown eyed offspring.
    Must have been someone elses daughter, poor Stephen!

  • Comment number 35.

    well done bbc Absolutely great war time drama,about love and loss,

  • Comment number 36.

    it's such a shame about some of the comments on here... this does it for me, great casts, great production, very intense, gripping and well interpret. I thoroughly enjoyed it and not many things on TV pleases me. Eddie Redmayne, 'the man who speaks with his eyes' and Joe Mawle... both of you couldn't have interpret it better... Bravo!

  • Comment number 37.

    A truly wonderful production - mixture of passion, beauty and the horrors of war. The music was so evocative.It captured the spirit of the book perfectly. Thank you.

  • Comment number 38.

    I read the book some years ago but my recollection was that it was in 2 parts, the love affair and then the war. I was therefore looking forward to a 2 part series as i thought it would follow the book. However the disjointed toing and froing between the 2 parts lost the tension build up of the love between the 2 people and made the first part boring to watch, I gave up after 3/4 hour. I watched the second half as my husband was watching it and it improved towards the end but I still think it could have been better

  • Comment number 39.

    Can someone tell me if the fawn dog seen running on the battlefield in episode two is a Cropped eared Briard ??

  • Comment number 40.

    I thought this was a brilliant adaptation of the book. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Perhaps a bit puzzled why Isabelle's relationship with the young German officer was omitted, which was a point of hight tension in the novel. Still, a fantastic version.

  • Comment number 41.

    Birdsong is a love and war story. The scriptwriter did the love 'bit' brilliantly, but the war 'bit' was weak. The absolute horror of the battles is tangible - in the book. The air is 'solid metal' - words quoted from the book in the adaptation, but not believable on screen. Explosions so loud that screamed orders at close quarters are not heard. Men and boys crying for their mothers, like babies. The terrifying claustrophobia of the tunnels did not come across at all. Wraysford, given up for dead and thrown on a heap of rotting corpses in the book is, in the film, an 'is he or isn't he?' body, in a nice line next to a red cross tent.
    I'm so glad this was televised at last, but an opportunity was missed. The scenes from the latter end of the 20th century are essential to this tale. How else are we really expected to 'never forget' if a connection to our time is missing?
    It's better than nothing, but not good enough, sorry.

  • Comment number 42.

    The book doesn't explicitly explain its own title (why should it?) as far as I'm aware. For those who have posed this question, I would suggest that it refers to the poignancy of the sound of birdsong, which was widely reported by soldiers not long after the guns stopped.

  • Comment number 43.

    Watched the latest episode last night. How thought prevoking. Why, how futile, effects on 'normal' life. What is gained/lost. How lucky am I! Thank you. My grandfather fought and survived this war and found it hard to talk about it - why am I not surprised. Lest we forget!

  • Comment number 44.

    Painerly rather than painterly. The central relationship is so important to the structure but fails to convince. Longueurs are one thing but coupled with the most irritating piano theme ruined simply felt like being drawn out for the sake of 'seriousness' The end was moving, but not the overly didacticism of the soldier's reading out their letters, but the factual event itself. Could the BBC writersroom not visit the US equivalent at HBO?

  • Comment number 45.

    A great production which used the opportunities presented by medium (of a TV drama) to good effect - especially intercutting the two parts of the story. For example, at the conclusion of Part 1, the journey of the two lovers to their new life and of Jack bringing Stephen 'back from the dead' - both portentious scenes for Part 2. I have to agree, though, with the comments about the inaudibility of some of the dialogue. Turning up the sound level helped.

    One question. Can you give the name of the location at which the shots inside the Azaire factory were shot? It's been a bit of a talking point at work! Many thanks.

  • Comment number 46.

    It's important to remember that this is a version of the novel - they are and never should be exact replicas of each other. I was greatly moved by the book and I was by the 2-parter. I thought the music suited the mood without being intrusive and the cuts between "love story" and "war story" worked to contrast and because he really did think of those past happy times when he was suffering the terrors and horror of the war. We can all come up with little things we're not so impressed by or possible inconsistencies( and they're all personal), but it was a great adaptation and I for one thoroughly enjoyed it. Class.

  • Comment number 47.

    Been away for a while so only saw both parts back to back last night. Really enjoyed it, matched very closely the mental images your mind conjures up when you read a book. Only minor disappointment was the omission of the 'modern' time period with Stephen's granddaughter researching the journals and her realisation of what actually happened in the trenches, reinforcing the message of the book on the horrors of the first world war (and the link to her own personal relationships). I remember this as being central to the story.

    Minor gripe though, very good production.

    Well done BBC, will be getting this on DVD.

  • Comment number 48.

    I thought this was quite a mediocre adaptation of the novel. It appeared too short and would have benefited from an extra episode. It could have been improved if the the story had started with Stephen's life in France before the war and then followed by the conflict (as per the book). Instead the adaptation jumped backwards and forwards in time.
    I felt that Eddie Redmayne was miscast as Stephen and found some of his spoken lines quite inaudible. Whose idea was it to cast Captain Michael Weir as a Scot in and English cricket jumper! By contrast Jack Firebraces character was quite believable.

  • Comment number 49.

    Haven't really read the other comments. Birdsong was without doubt one of the best, if not the best drama I've watched on TV. I'm from a photographic background and felt totally rewarded by the visuals. There were so many highs, it's unfair to single any out - however I'll try. Part 1 was my favourite episode and is where my choices are from. The sequence with the picnic that culminated in the transition to Stephens' face being illuminated by the flare is magic. The musical score that accompanied it is so subtle and essential to the action, I love it. The moment when Isabelle looks up and acknowledges Stephen is like an Atomic Explosion of love - we've all been there and can relate to it, though maybe not in a punt. The scene where Stephen is sitting in the cafe, sketching the lady and he glances Isabelle - absolutely spellbinding. The scene when Isabelles' husband and her sister Jan are leaving and we see the two girls in the hallway in those beautifully coloured skirts. I could mention other scenes, both from Part 1 & Part 2, there are so many.

    It would be remiss to concentrate totally on the cinematography as the casting and acting were excellent also.

    I must confess to having watched and re-watched several sequences and especially the picnic one, I am in awe of the cameraman and director.

    If I was to use one statement to illustrate the impact of the 1st World War as portrayed in Birdsong it would be - "It stole the light". I appreciate this is a metaphor by which I'm referring to how it killed the brightness and optimism of those times as so beautifully caught and portrayed in the paintings of the Impressionists.

    I'd categorise Birdsong in the same category as "My Son Jack" - equally brilliant and enjoyable.

    Many thanks to the BBC for commissioning it and to all the people who made it possible, especially the actors and actresses and particularly Clemence and Eddie.


  • Comment number 50.

    Just finished watching on iPlayer. I thought it was absolutely beautifully made. Wonderful contrasts between the beauty of 'French' countryside and the starkness of the trenches; between the tenderness of love and the violence of war; the haunting melody providing a link between the two.
    Well done BBC and all those who worked on the series. This makes the licence fee worthwhile!

  • Comment number 51.

    Id be very interetsed to know a bit more about the technology used in this production. Could you tell me which cameras were used and the type of lenses also, combined they made for an amazing cinematic masterpiece. Thank you

  • Comment number 52.

    I read Birdsong last year and when I got to the end I wept. I was excited to watch this adaptation and it didn't disapoint. The 'dream-like' quality of the scenes with Isabelle, the haunting music, the sense of Stephen's isolation and loneliness. I only feel for people that do not read books and miss out on a deeper understanding of humanity. I thought this was a beautiful, poetic masterpiece that captured the essence of the book perfectly. Well done to everyone involved.

  • Comment number 53.

    This production was fabulous. Read the book several years ago and concerned that this would not live up to it. Concerns were unfounded. To take us backwards and forwards was brilliant. "Painterly" it certainly was, the muted colours and the lighting were exquisite. Worth every penny of this months licence fee on its own. Thank you.

  • Comment number 54.

    i totally agree with the first comment...i have always enjoyed series and movies on bbc, but this one bird song, decent story but horrifying sex scenes, so unnecessary to the story............not a love story at all....when bird song 2 comes out, i will not be watching it if it contains the same offensive scenes.....other than that, i was enjoying the story................


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