Planete+ Commissions Docu-Drama 1914, Summer in Hell


Pernel Media has been commissioned by Canal+ Group’s Planete+ to produce and develop 1914, Summer in Hell, a docu-drama telling the story of the first summer of World War I.

Across four one-hour episodes, colorized archive footage and dramatic recreation are used to take viewers to the heart of the action as war erupted in Europe. In just a few months, the peaceful lives of millions of Europe’s youth were shattered as they were sent to fight in a conflict they didn’t fully understand.

While half the series will consist of colorized archive footage, the other part will feature actors taking part in non-dialogue scenes and recreated interviews of soldiers in their native French, German and English language. It will offer a multifaceted account of the war through the testimonies of people from different countries who never met but were all immersed in the same bloody war.

The storytelling is based on original letters and diaries that reveal the personal and intimate moments that cameras from the battlefields couldn’t capture.

1914, Summer in Hell is being directed by Nicky Bolster (Greatest Events of WWII in Colour, Ancient Apocalypse), Lars Blumers (Mike) and Philippe Saada (Munich 1972—Of Games and Blood, Judging Pétain). Fabrice Frank is executive producing for Pernel Media.

“Summer 1914 was the tipping point into horror for millions of people around the world,” Frank said. “The story of this dreadful summer is told by those who found themselves caught up in that terrible escalation: the soldiers sent to the battlefield and civilians working on the frontline. In a matter of months the illusion of a short war was shattered and the reality of the Great War sank in for millions.”