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Saving Notre Dame (2020)Saving Notre Dame (2020)

On April 15, 2019 people around the world watched in horror at the live television coverage of the catastrophic fire that ravaged the 13th-century Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. Before it was over, the majestic spire had collapsed, most of the roof was destroyed, and its walls severely damaged. Amazingly, much of the interior was spared, despite horrible damage from the toxic lead smoke. The French president Emmanuel Macron vowed that they would rebuild the cathedral in five years, and within a week over a billion euros had been pledged for that purpose (with a delicious controversy surrounding the fund raising). This PBS Nova documentary (Season 47, Episode 8) will be a little outdated by the time this review is published, but it nonetheless explains the herculean efforts now being undertaken by conservators, scientists, engineers, architects, art historians, glass experts, and trades people to restore the iconic building to its 800-year-old glory. I was reminded how the cathedral architecture with its glorious stained glass debunks the idea that the Middle Ages were "dark," and the startling contrast between the 13th-century architecture and the latest in digital technologies now being used to restore the cathedral. After watching this film, you can appreciate Macron's eagerness for restoration, but you also realize that this is a project that might take decades to finish rather than a mere five years. But it will surely be worth it, however long it takes.

Dan Clendenin:

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