‘Saving Notre Dame’ airs on NOVA on PBS

Category: Television and Streaming

In April 2019 the magnificent Paris landmark and cathedral, Notre Dame, caught fire. Losing this marvel of medieval architecture that has stood for over 800 years was not an option. President Macron declared the cathedral would be rebuilt in 5 years, but that might be too early because of the intricate work and details the researchers and those reconstructing are undertaking.

Saving Notre Dame is an eye-opening look at history and the technology of today. Notre Dame was build with wood (which was quick to burn), stone, and glass. The reconstruction is a tedious process and a slow one. But everyone is dedicated to getting it right so the building will last for more generations to admire.

Every piece that fell down was cataloged and filed away. The stones in various areas of the cathedral were of different limestone. One might think that rebuilders would just take what they could find, but that’s not the case. They went below the city of Paris to search for the exact stones that were used in the different areas. Learning how they did this is fascinating.

The stained glass windows were not broken, but some were damaged a little. The worst part is the toxic soot from the fire that coated the windows. The soot has to be removed by a special little vacuum that won’t damage the glass. Then the glass must be cleaned with liquid, however it has to be just enough to get all the soot off and not damage the glass. A spritz of Windex won’t do it! The patience these people have is astounding.

And by using modern technology they will be able to keep the beautiful stained glass from being damaged by the sun, which is something unheard of 800 years ago.

The amazing flying buttresses that make the arches on the sides of the cathedral also hold up the walls. To avoid a domino effect, each of the flying buttresses had to be reenforced with exact precision.

The reconstruction is just beginning and the building itself is still in peril. But keeping it standing is a top priority for the city. Engineers, researchers, technology experts, and other specialists have joined together to save Notre Dame.

“We are thrilled to be able to tell the inside story of the dramatic rescue of Notre Dame,” said NOVA Co-Executive Producer Chris Schmidt. “In the first days after the fire, no one was sure whether the huge bell towers, walls, or flying buttresses would remain standing. The exhaustive process of diagnosing the damage and embarking on the restoration of the great cathedral relies on new technologies and medieval craftsmanship alike.”

This is definitely a wondrous task and the documentary is enlightening.  Saving Notre Dame premieres November 25, 2020 on PBS’ NOVA. Vive Notre Dame!


All photos courtesy of Windfall Productions.

About the Author

Francine Brokaw has been covering all aspects of the entertainment industry for over 25 years. She also writes about products and travel. She has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines as well as Internet websites. She has written her own book, Beyond the Red Carpet The World of Entertainment Journalists, from Sourced Media Books, is the entertainment correspondent for Good Day Orange County, and has her own TV show, Beyond the Red Carpet, on Village Television in Orange County. She is a longstanding member of the Los Angeles Press Club and the Television Critics Association and is accredited by the MPAA.