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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE Director Says Series ‘Changed’ Him

Photo from Netflix’s Instagram

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE Director Says Series ‘Changed’ Him

By Movieguide® Contributor

Shawn Levy, director of the Movieguide® Award-nominated miniseries ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, shared how making the show changed his approach to directing.

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE “is a breakthrough in representation for blind and low-vision performers,” says the LA Times.

“It changed everything for me,” Levy said when asked how working with blind or low-vision actors impacted the project. “[The LA Times’] readers will need to take your word for it when you describe the level of my facial expressiveness and gesticulations. [Levy is extremely animated].”

The show’s protagonist, Marie-Laure, is blind. The actress who played her, Aria Mia Loberti, is also low vision.

Movieguide® reported, “Loberti…used this role as an opportunity to portray blindness in a positive way and combat harmful stereotypes. She worked closely with the director to do this in a way that honored his vision for the story.”

“What I gleaned from Joe [Strechay, an associate producer and a blindness and accessibility consultant] and Aria was that [facial expressions and gestures are] useless,” Levy continued. “Your words matter and the way you say them matters extra.”

“What I found is, figure out what I want. Find the fewest words possible to express it. Get up, go to my actor Aria or now take it right to their ear and give the note concisely and expressively. The other thing I realized: Energy is palpable. I would get in the space of Aria and Nell [Sutton, who played young Marie-Laure], and I trusted that they could feel my energy. That combined with more rigorous use of my words was a new way of directing for me. It really was such a useful disrupter of my go-to moves,” he explained.

Levy relied on Strechay to make sure the miniseries portrayed a blind person’s daily life correctly.

“I was teaching them the skills that people who are blind use in everyday life. I’ve always been critical of how blindness has been portrayed in media,” Strechay explained.

“After a take, Joe would often come up to me and say, ‘It sounds like Aria put her cane down by the door and then laid her hand on top of the desk. It would be better if she locates the desk with the back of her hand first, and then transition to the front of the fingers,'” Levy explained. “And he would often remind Aria, ‘You are comfortable in this situation, but your character is younger than you, existing in 1941 and has not had any experience with reading other than Braille.’ So Joe would keep the process honest. He was a critical resource for me as a director.”

The series, inspired by a book of the same name, tellsThe story of Marie-Laure, a blind French teenager, and Werner, a German soldier, whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.”

Movieguide® praised its strong moral worldview. Part of the review reads:

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE is riveting and well stocked with intense jeopardy. Each episode ends with a cliffhanger. The dialogue is also magnificent as is the acting, the sets, the costumes, and the direction. Some flashbacks are sometimes disorienting, however. ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE is an extremely exciting, morally affirming, heroic miniseries. It’s a powerful testimony of good triumphing over evil with strong Christian references, but it has some strong foul language and violence. MOVIEGUDIE® advises extreme caution.

“There’s times in history and in the present, whether it’s global events or personal tragedy, where you just feel kind of lost in darkness and hopeless in the midst of darkness,” Levy told Movieguide®. “But this story is really about the belief that that light does exist, will exist again and that we need to protect that place inside of us even if the world is breaking our heart.”

Movieguide® previously reported on ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE:

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE’s crew recently shared the creative process behind adapting the book, why they didn’t want to replace the source material and how the story speaks to world events today.

“It’s so well written, it’s so beautiful it’s so big that pretty much only a fool would want to adapt it,” writer and executive producer  Steven Knight told Movieguide® of the book the miniseries is based on. “I wanted to do was to try to do justice to the book without ever suggesting it’s a replacement for the to the book or a diversion from the book. The book is still there, but this is another way of enjoying that brilliant piece of imagination.”

“The book is the mountain,” director Shawn Levy told Deadline. “The mountain will always exist. Long after us, the mountain will be here. We did a painting of that mountain. It’s our impression of that mountain.”

Levy had been working for years to secure the rights to the novel of the same name, written by Anthony Doerr. When it finally came time for him to make the series, the director put his all into it, from shooting on location in Saint-Malo to casting a blind actress to play lead Marie-Laure. 

“It gave a grounded [feeling]. Again, it comes back to that word that was dominant for me on this project — authenticity,” he explained. “Wherever I can give my actors the real thing, I know it makes the performances better.”

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Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.


4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.