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This article contains major spoilers for the ending of Notre-Dame.
The new miniseries from Netflix Notre-Dame based on the book La Nuit de Notre Damewritten by the Paris fire brigade and Romain Gubert and details real-life efforts to put out a fire that engulfed Paris’ iconic medieval Catholic cathedral in 2019. Despite its actual basis, however, much artistic liberty is taken, and the focus is heavily on the people who were personally involved and touched by the disaster. So, here’s what happened.
The main focus is on the firefighters, particularly Alice, who is still reeling from the loss of her lover Ben and is under the command of his father Zacharie, a fire chief on the verge of retirement. But there are other perspectives to consider, such as Elena, a journalist tasked with getting the most viewers, who uses an old friend, a fireman named Antony, to gain access to the cathedral itself, a drug addict named Victoire, who bonds with a young child named Billy, who believes his long-lost father is fighting the fire, and Bassem, a laborer at the cathedral.
The end of Notre-Dame explained
Through these different characters and perspectives, the show touches on different ideas and themes. Elena, for example, gives voice to the dangerous and self-serving sensationalism of media coverage. After being trapped in the cathedral, she narrowly escapes with her life and reveals on air that it was a stupid and selfish decision made for her – and for the wrong reasons. There is also a romance between her and Antony.
Through Victoire and her father Max, the show explores ideas of parenthood, alienation and also personal despair. Max owes money to a drug dealer, but he’s willing to do anything to try and get back in touch with Victoire. Both reconcile in the hospital and say goodbye to Victoire’s dying mother.
Through Alice and Zacharie, the show explores notions of grief and loss while attempting to reckon with the value of human life versus preserving history. Alice, pregnant with Zachary’s grandson, risks her life to prove herself to her late lover and, given the cathedral’s turbulent history, risk her life by joining the team’s efforts to save the bell tower.
And finally, through little boy Billy and cathedral worker Bassem, the show touches on delusion, though admittedly a delusion born of hope. Billy clings to an image of his father dressed up as a firefighter, believing he is, but only because the pain of admitting he’s lost would be harder to bear. Bassem also believes that a woman is his wife, but hallucinates due to trauma. These two disparate individuals are confronted with the way they would like life to be, but ultimately they must realize that they cannot change reality and must face the version of it they are holding on to.
You can stream Notre-Dame exclusively on Netflix. Do you have any thoughts on the ending of Notre-Dame? Let us know in the comments.
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