The Endless Night opens with a birthday celebration. A matchstick is lit, a candle is burned, and the fire, along with the characters, sparkles with joy. The fire, at this point, is elevating the celebratory occasion. Later, it will give rise to a disaster. The characters, initially celebrating an event that is all about someone's birth, will soon find themselves mourning (along with other characters) because of an event that took the lives of many people.
In 2013, 242 people died when a fire broke out at a nightclub called Kiss located in Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. The Endless Night is about that incident and how the parents of the victims continue to fight for justice. They even came together and formed the Association of Victims of the Tragedy in Santa Maria. Some viewers are likely to draw comparisons between this show and Trial by Fire - another series streaming on Netflix. Both of them are based on real-life tragedies caused by fire. In both shows, the people are trapped inside a limited space (nightclub here, movie theater there) as exit doors are locked. The parents form an association, fight for justice, get tired of courtrooms, and are constantly disappointed by the law as the perpetrators manage to get freedom.
In Trial by Fire, the tragedy and its impact were viewed from various viewpoints. We not only saw the suffering of the parents. But also of a "henchman" and an engineer who fixed the generator. The Endless Night, in comparison, is more "simple." Everything is black and white here. The parents are good, and others, who own or are related to the nightclub, are villains. That doesn't mean The Endless Night is bad or mediocre. Yes, it follows a formulaic approach, but it does so with aplomb.
The "formulaic" part - among other places - can be found in the opening scenes of the first episode, where everyone is seen smiling or laughing, and the yellow filter oozes happy vibes. A character says, "I will spend the rest of the day with father tomorrow" - a line cunningly inserted to make us contemplate the unpredictable nature of our existence. Then there is that speech from one of the parents that comes like a cathartic release during the last episode. But the series never lets its familiar path become a hurdle. It hits all the right notes at the right time and evokes pain, pity, and optimism from within us.
The smiles from the birthday party give way to ecstasy in the nightclub. The blissful sunshine is replaced by colorful disco lights. All this exuberance is finally superseded by chaos and darkness. You hold your breath as characters try to escape the nightclub, and the sight of the corpses chokes you with sadness. But The Endless Night does not always require dying carcasses to ignite sentiments of pathos. Notice how a shoe and the sound of a car are injected with poignance. The title, too, suggests the continuation of devastation. The night (of the tragedy) is endless because it doesn't stop haunting the parents. The families of the victims are still experiencing grief and injustice.
Through a prosecutor, The Endless Night presents to us the reactions of the people who are not affected by disasters. Such individuals regard unfortunate incidents with a normal amount of sympathy and move on. Those last two words also come from a man's mouth when he tells the family members to forget about the past. As for the prosecutor, he handles the case with a bit of detachment (since his daughter was not present at the Kiss club). Instead of rattling the government's cage, he observes the plight of the parents from a safe distance.
Shows like The Endless Night and Trial by Fire depict a past event, but the things they touch upon are (unfortunately) still relevant. What should we do when a system designed to protect its citizens fails to provide justice to them? Both The Endless Night and Trial by Fire end with bleak text, yet they remain hopeful for the future. You might have lost the fight today, but you may win tomorrow.
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