Is Women at War on Netflix based on a True Story?

January 21, 2023 (Last updated: 2 weeks ago)
Miguel Fernández 12
Features, Netflix, News, RSC Originals, Streaming Service
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Is Women at War on Netflix based on a True Story? We discuss the accuracy of the series, and whether the characters are real or fictional.

Women at War is an emotional French series on Netflix that follows four women in 1914 France, during the early days of World War I. Directed by Alexandre Laurent, the eight-episode series stars Audrey Fleurot as Marguerite de Lancastel, Julie De Bona as Mère Supérieure Agnès, Camille Lou as Suzanne Faure, and Sofia Essaïdi as Caroline Dewitt.

The series, originally titled Les combattantes, hit Netflix in France last September, and now it’s rolling out in other territories, including the US. If you’ve seen it, you might now be wondering whether or not it’s based on a true story. If so, you’re in the right place!

What is Women at War on Netflix about?

Four women from very different backgrounds meet in France in 1914 as World War I is about to erupt. They are Marguerite, a Parisian prostitute; Suzanne, a feminist nurse; Agnes, the Mother Superior of a requisitioned convent; and Caroline, who was just promoted to the head position in her family’s factory. The series is a heavy criticism of armed conflicts, depicting its horrors through the eyes of four people that had their lives turned upside down because of a fight they did not choose to enter, and cannot even participate in.

It also takes a close look at the role that women played in early 20th-century France, and asks the viewers to reflect on how little progress we’ve made in some aspects, hinting at the long road ahead for us as a society.

Is Women at War on Netflix based on a True Story?

The four women that headline the series are completely fictional characters, but World War I was one of the most devastating human conflicts in the entire 20th century. Known at the time as the Great War, it divided the European continent into two and the differences between both sides lasted decades and eventually caused the rise of fascism and the start of World War II. Nine million people died fighting, with 26 million wounded and millions of civilians having their lives completely turned upside down for a cause that nobody could really understand.

The conflict started after decades worth of small political disagreements between two sides that piled on; the heat was turned up in the first six months of 1914, until finally, on June 28, the Austro-Hungarian heir was assassinated, with the Empire blaming Serbia and declaring war on them a month later. Alliances were quickly formed and four long years of conflict were kicked off.

Women at War begins a couple of months later, in September 1914. By that time, Germany was already deep into their occupation of France, as portrayed in the series.

Are the characters in Women at War real people or fictional?

The main characters are completely fictional, but as usual, there’s a large background of documentation behind them. Creator Célile Lorne said she came up with the idea after watching a documentary on women during World War I and decided to explore the concept a bit further. The basic pitch for the series was then to write a story about war from the perspective of women — what happens to the people left at home when the men go to fight someone else’s wars? For that, she created four vastly different perspectives that would allow her to approach the answer to the question from all sorts of different angles. After all, a prostitute’s perspective is vastly different from that of a nurse.

So no, there were no four women named Marguerite, Agnès, Suzanne, and Caroline that met and crossed paths during World War I, but the truth is that there were probably millions of other women that ran into similar problems, and we are just hearing their voices now through these four.

Have you seen Women at War? What did you think of the Netflix French series? Let us know in the comments!

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12 thoughts on “Is Women at War on Netflix based on a True Story?

  • January 22, 2023 at 5:18 am
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    I though the movie women at war was a very good movie would recommend it

  • January 22, 2023 at 6:41 am
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    Great series. Showed how far we still have yet to come in terms of how global problems are solved. Also, some of the working gals were sex workers, not prostitutes.

  • January 23, 2023 at 2:12 am
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    It is so good

  • January 23, 2023 at 9:11 am
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    The series made me think about my own life & how I treat my son. Very touching series. It’s so real life…. It also made me think about religion & how I should go to church more. I liked the series. Women in the war were heroes also.

  • January 23, 2023 at 5:58 pm
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    Extremely well presented series. 4 strong actresses well directed and with good photographic angles are added to a sharp script. The tragic backdrop of the early French struggle in WW1 provides emotional depth.
    The scenes filmed in the hospital and convent and local town with period detail are realistic and fast moving. I enjoyed the plot development which built to an emotional climax. Thoroughly absorbing series.

  • January 24, 2023 at 4:19 am
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    Please correct your article. It says this was at the beginning of WW2. It is WW1, not 2 in this story.

  • January 28, 2023 at 10:58 am
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    I love watching all episodes. Even they are fictional characters, the movie demonstrates us terrible things about war & also shows many angles of a society at 1900s. One of great points this movie tells us is that revenge,, selfish & inflexibility may blind humans from doing good things. Compassion & forgiveness may make society better. A great film to watch.

  • January 28, 2023 at 5:05 pm
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    I truly enjoyed the series and honor the writer, producer and the whole team of actress’s and actors playing all the character parts with passion. They brought through deep emotional and intellectual concepts of World War 1, within not only the lenses of the four women but how it affected everyone. Furthermore, the 4 women characters demonstrated such passion when crossing moral forks through their journey in life, and each of them transcended others to reflect deeper within themselves. Interestingly enough as well, how some people were willing to rise and humble their demons and others ego led them down other paths. There was no help for people in the 20th century to support mental health of the horrors they were exposed to but for heart to heart compassion to rise above a senseless war was touching to see what humans are capable of. Lastly, I was left thinking about how war, politics, church and how the “God” can be manipulated, the way women were treated, what was expected by men, the division of class due to money and the treatment, advocacy/debate, etc. The only criticism was I did not like the ending when Suzanne says, “Good Luck.” I wish they said, “Nothing” held hands and walked away to to work their medical challenges. If I was to rate this series 1 beginning he loses and 5 being the highest, I would give it a 5. I hope that the writer and director do more work together because they were very complimentary to each other.

  • January 30, 2023 at 2:29 am
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    A good story but historical period accuracy is a little loose. The use of telephones almost like cell phones is wildly inaccurate.
    The cars being used in wartime as runabouts is surprising and the access to records is like the internet!

  • February 3, 2023 at 5:49 am
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    Excellent in every way. I couldn’t wait for the next episode. well done ? ??

  • February 3, 2023 at 5:51 am
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    I did not type the question marks…please remove them.

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