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Trial by Fire: Lives Reforged

Trial by Fire: Lives Reforged

Fri Sep 6, 9-10.55pm, PBS

By Danielle Goldstein
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This is not one for the faint-hearted. The first 25 minutes in particular may overwhelm you with images of severe burns and heartrending backstories. But then, you’d expect a documentary about people who have survived fires to be hard-going from the off.

However, as a piece of interesting and informative television, it could do with less shock factor and more storyline. Each tale is so brief that, by the time the tragedy has sunk in, it skips to the next without any real conclusion. Only at the end do we discover the outcomes and, by that point, compassion fatigue has set in. Before ‘Trial by Fire’, this debut documentary-maker, Megan Smith-Harris’s most notable work was acting in ‘Police Academy 4’, so perhaps we can forgive the flimsy structure. After all, the programme does hammer home her point that all burn survivors can successfully ‘re-forge’ their lives. But this much sentimentality can be bit tough on the heartstrings.
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