The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité) is a French language melodrama that begins with a real historical event. The event was an 1897 fire in Paris that burned down a building housing a charity bazaar. Over 100 women died in the fire. It’s streaming on Netflix.
Three fictional women who experienced the fire are the basis for the 8 episodes in season 1 of The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité). I’ll give you a description of the three women, which will introduce their particular part of the story.
Adrienne (Audrey Fleurot) wasn’t actually in the building when it burned, although she was supposed to be. She was in a carriage smooching with Hugues (François-David Cardonnel). Hugues was not her husband. He was a journalist who would later help uncover the truth about how the fire started.
Adrienne’s husband Marc-Antoine (Gilbert Melki) was abusive and controlling. He was rich, powerful, and running for high office. When he learned Adrienne wanted a divorce, he had their daughter Camille (Rose de Kervenoaël) taken away as a means to control Adrienne. When Adrienne and Hugues weren’t kissing, they were talking about how Adrienne could get her daughter and escape her husband’s clutches.
Rose (Julie de Bona), a maid, was in the building. Ironically, she was watching little Thomas (Adrien Guionnet). Thomas turned out to be an important part of her future, but the night of the fire she was just minding him for his mother. Rose was married to the coachman Jean (Aurélien Wiik). They had just purchased tickets to America and a new life.
Alice (Camille Lou) was there with her maid Rose. She was kind to everyone but took special notice of a lower class man in the crowd named Victor (Victor Meutelet). They had one of those long look moments with each other. When the building was collapsing all around them, Victor went back inside to save Alice.
Alice’s rich intended future husband Julien (Théo Fernandez) was in the fire, too. Like other men, he pushed aside women to save himself. Alice’s parents really needed her to marry the rich guy, but she switched her allegiance to Victor after the fire. Adrienne sister was Alice’s mother.
Everything I just described happened in the first episode. The first episode was brilliantly done. The fire scenes were fantastic and terrifying. The remainder of the season is about the 3 women and their lives following the fire.
It took a big cast to tell the story. There were corrupt politicians, investigators, cops, journalists, newsboys, anarchists, devious mothers-in-law, near bankrupt parents, philandering fake husbands, and pretend children. The costumes and opulent sets of the rich people in the story were fabulous.
False identities, faked deaths, and loving below your class were just a few of the plot lines that our three heroines became involved in as the story spun its magic. The guillotine situated in the middle of the frame in every episode was set to whisk off the head of one of those characters. Some characters plotted to put him on the chopping block, while others worked to prove his innocence.
Exciting things like stabbings, shootings, bonking on the head with metal pipes, and men knocking women about figured into resolving some of the problems. The climactic scenes in the final episode had the three women’s stories in a good place. It felt like the series could end after those 8 episodes and be complete. But The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité) was specifically labeled Season 1, so there may be plans to carry on with the women’s lives with new drama in the future. They were strong, willful, interesting women.
The series was created by Catherine Ramberg.
The series is in French, but this trailer is dubbed in English.
What did you think of this exciting drama? Would you like to see a second season?