‘Notre-Dame’ Ending, Explained: How Did The Paris Fire Department Save Notre-Dame? Is It Based On True Events?


“Notre-Dame: La Part Du Feu” is a Netflix mini-series based on the book “La Nuit De Notre-Dame.” While the series heavily focuses on how the Paris fire department handled the Notre-Dame fire on April 15th, 2019, it also brings forth stories of individuals who were not directly affected by the fire, yet their lives were changed by the end of the event. We are introduced to a firefighter, Alice, who recently lost her partner on duty. A father, Max, goes in search of his daughter to reunite her with her dying mother. A drug addict and sex worker, Victoire, ends up with a little boy who teaches her some valuable lessons. Billy, a child, goes on a search for his father in the fire brigade. Elena, a journalist, realized life was more than the fame she was chasing. Colonel Varese, a firefighter and believer, with a will to save Notre-Dame at any cost, and Baseem, a roofer who was determined to sketch a portrait of his wife.

Spoilers Ahead

Alice Adamski: How Did Alice Adamski Help In Controlling The Notre-Dame Fire?

Two months before the Notre-Dame fire, Alice Adamski lost her partner, Ben, on duty. It was Alice’s first day on the job, and she was nervous but at the same time hopeful. The sudden collapse of the building crushed her partner, and she was left screaming his name in vain. On the day Notre-Dame started to burn, Adamski returned to her job. It was challenging for her to get past her fear and perform her duty. When she reached the location, she was reminded of Ben every second. She wanted to walk into the fire to get closer to Ben. While to some, her actions did seem suicidal, she believed she wanted to take extreme measures to make her demised partner proud of her.

During the two months that she was on leave after the tragic mishap, Alice contacted Ben’s father, General Ducourt, accusing him of not taking enough measures to safeguard the lives of firefighters. General Ducourt lived with the guilt and eventually decided to hand in his resignation. Even though he knew that the risk he took was approved and that a firefighter must be prepared to face life-threatening situations, he felt sorry for Alice Adamski. Alice and Ben’s relationship was a secret affair. Ben had yet to separate from his wife, though his love for Alice was undeniable. Ben was passionate about his job, and Alice admired him for his honesty. She remembered the day they were together in Notre-Dame, listening to a musical performance. Even though they were seated away from each other, at the end of the event, she held his hand. Notre-Dame had witnessed Ben and Alice’s love for one another, and it was now her duty to protect it. She climbed the structure built for reconstruction work against the advice of her superior. She had to be close to the haunting fire, but the structure ultimately collapsed, and Alice lost control of the situation.

Alice managed to rush to a nearby chamber that was closed off by the debris that fell from the cathedral after the spire collapsed. Colonel Varese risked her life to find Adamski. Stuck in the mounting debris, Alice could feel Ben’s presence there. She was no longer alone there. She confided in Ben that she was pregnant. When Colonel Varese arrived, she saw Alice’s body lying amidst the debris. She pulled her out and sent her to the emergency ward to recover. Alice informed General Ducourt that she was carrying Ben’s child. General Ducourt and Colonel Varese decided to not include Alice in the mission, knowing her physical and mental condition. She was strictly forbidden from leaving the emergency ward. But Alice managed to find her way out. She wore her uniform and joined Colonel Varese on her mission to save Notre-Dame at all costs.

Alice was spotted by General Ducourt, but she managed to escape from the situation through a chamber. She decided to take another route to save the belfry. When Colonel Varese requested an extra hose, Alice responded by saying that she was in the gangway and could see the eastern façade. But gradually, everything around her started to fall apart. She took the stairways to reach the belfry to help Varese. General Ducourt got hold of her on her way down. He wanted her to return to safety, but she refused to do so. She wanted to save the cathedral for herself and Ben. General Ducourt allowed her to join Varese. Alice supplied Varese with an extra hose. Alice Adamski’s presence helped in controlling the fire. Her bravery was of extreme help to the team, and she was finally proud of herself.

Victoire, Billy, And Max: Why Did Victoire Refuse To Trust Her Father?

Academically brilliant, Victoire drifted away from her family after she got addicted to drugs supplied by a local gangster, Rico. The night before Notre-Dame caught on fire, Victoire was with her friend, Pam, providing service to her client. She stole a jeweled cross from her client, a popular footballer. It took her a few seconds to decide upon stealing the cross. She knew it was morally wrong, and she feared the punishment for her action, but her addiction got the better of her, and she kept the cross in her bag. On the day of the fire, Victoire woke up to find her friend lying senseless after overdosing. Victoire chose to run away from the apartment instead of helping Pam. She was convinced that Pam had passed away, and she could not waste a second on her. She, too, was drugged, and her judgment was clouded. She decided to carry on with her life as usual.

Victoire changed clothes on the street, dabbed some makeup on her face, and was ready to meet a client. While she waited for her client to pay for her service in the launch boat, she noticed a boy drowning in the water. She jumped to save the little boy’s life. Billy had dropped the ball gifted by his father into the water, and he risked his life to save it. When Billy noticed that the entire fire department was working in Notre-Dame, he traveled alone to the location. He had a picture of his father in firefighter clothes and assumed that his father worked in the department. Billy asked around for his father, but nobody was able to help him. After meeting Victoire, she helped him search for his father, but it was not effective. Victoire bought him clothes with the little money that she had. She noticed the cross lying in her bag. She sold the cross at a pawn shop and tried to search for a quick fix. Billy was worried when he noticed Victoire falling sick. He wanted to help her but did not know how. Victoire collapsed on the ground, asking Billy to go his own way. She soon realized that the boy was too young to be left alone and apologized for her behavior. She went to score drugs at her usual dealer but noticed that the place was raided by the police. She unexpectedly saw her father in the chaos and hastily left the place. Victoire needed drugs to function. She was suffering from withdrawal. Little Billy wanted to help her and rushed to a drug store, hoping to buy drugs to save his partner. But, of course, the pharmacists did not entertain the odd pair. Victoire went to her old trusted aid, Rico, and his men for help. Rico’s men accepted her payment and supplied her with drugs. Victoire left Billy in a café. She gave him money to take the train and head home in case she did not return. Billy waited for Victoire. He trusted her. He believed that she would not leave him to return home alone. Billy bought a scratch card with the money she left him. Just like how Max gambled with his life to bring home his daughter, Billy too gambled his luck while waiting for Victoire.

Max was determined to fulfill his wife’s dying wish to meet their daughter, Victoire. After Victoire got addicted to drugs and took up prostitution, Max preferred not to contact her. He no longer considered her a part of his family. Max was a restauranteur whose once-successful business was now dying down. He used to be a brilliant boxer and had won the favor of the local gangster, Rico. Rico helped finance Max’s business, but with the business closing down, Max struggled to pay his dues. While searching for his daughter, he came across Pam. He helped save her life and managed to undo the mistake his daughter made that morning. After Max saves Pam’s life, she asks him to question Rico about Victoire’s whereabouts. Rico knew where Victoire was, but he offered to help on one condition: Max had to fight a match. Even though Max lost the fight, his popularity brought Rico enough money to trade information with Max.

Rico called Victoire and handed over the phone to Max; he informed her that her mother was sick and dying. She wanted her daughter to visit her. Victoire could not trust her father. She believed it was another attempt of his to reach out to her and ridicule her once she met him. She disconnected the call, leaving Max furious. Max drove to find his daughter, but by the time he reached the location, she was gone. Even though Victoire doubted her father, she loved her mother. She feared not meeting her mother, even after knowing that she was sick. She went to the café and collected Billy. To reach the hospital, she had to cross Notre-Dame, and she begged the officials stationed to help her out. Billy did not understand what Victoire was going through; he wondered why they were not searching for his father. Victoire explained to Billy that just because his father was wearing the clothes of a firefighter did not mean that he was one. His clothes were a size bigger than him; they looked more like a costume. Victoire stated that maybe his father wore a costume to pose for a picture. Billy was furious. The hope he had in his heart of finding his father was completely destroyed. He cursed Victoire for the person she was. Victoire walked away from Billy and tried to force her way into the enclosed area. Max was also present there; he noticed Victoire. The father and daughter rushed to embrace each other. Max took his daughter to meet her mother, and his wife’s dying wish was finally fulfilled. Max took home Billy, who later expressed to Max that he believed his father had passed away and that was the reason why he was not present with him.

Max’s wife played the cello at a music concert in Notre-Dame. Her family watched her perform with pride. Max remembered how his mother had brought him to Notre-Dame, and he, too, brought his daughter to the cathedral when she was young. It was a place that held heartwarming memories for the family. As Notre-Dame burned in the background, Max and Victoire found their way back to one another. The hopeless pursuit of Max was ultimately a success.

Elena: What Made Elena Share Her Truth?

Elena was a reporter who came to Paris to fulfill her dream of achieving fame. She was ready to put her life on the line to bring the news to her channel. When she was asked to bring in the best possible report from Notre-Dame, she knew she had to come up with unseen footage. Elena spotted her ex-lover in the fire brigade. He was now the Lieutenant; they met after seven years. Elena lied to him, stating that the commissioner of police and the fire chief selected her channel to cover the operation inside the cathedral. The Lieutenant believed her and equipped her to enter Notre-Dame.

Elena reported live from the inside of the building, but soon the situation was out of control. The spire broke down, and the fire started to spread rapidly. Elena was covered in dust. She had no one around her. She tried to contact her team, but the radios were not working. She was ultimately rescued by a firefighter and taken to the emergency ward when the door was broken. Elena realized that the people around her were risking their lives to save a heritage structure while she risked her life for sensation. When her senior took her back to the newsroom to discuss on camera what she had lived through, she blatantly stated that she had risked her life for viewership. Up until the moment she faced a near-death situation, she hoped for nothing but fame and a lavish lifestyle, but now she only cared about what truly mattered to her. She had broken off her engagement in her hometown in the hope of pursuing something greater in life, but now after seeing him, she knew what she missed the most. Upon leaving the studio, she went to Notre-Dame and held her lover close to her heart.

Baseem: Was Baseem’s Wife Alive?

Baseem worked at the Notre-Dame reconstruction site. It was while working there that he noticed a woman standing on the balcony. In the morning, when Notre-Dame caught on fire, Baseem watched the woman from the roof and attempted to sketch her. He was soon asked to evacuate, and he left the building. Sudden courage took over Baseem. He walked into the building where the woman lived. He rang the doorbell and tried talking to the woman. Baseem pushed his way into the apartment. The woman was scared of him and rushed to the bathroom to save her life. She broke the bathroom mirror and held a piece tightly in her palm. She started to bleed and eventually collapsed on the floor. Baseem forcefully entered the bathroom and recovered the woman from the mess. He stitched back the cut, and she came to her senses. He explained to her that he simply wanted to sketch her because she looked quite like his lost wife. Baseem used to be a dental surgeon in Syria, but in Paris, he worked as a roofer. He and his wife, Sherine, migrated from Syria when the revolution started. On their way to France, Baseem fell asleep for a while, and when he woke up, she was gone. After her demise, Baseem started to gradually forget the way she looked. No matter how hard he tried to remember her, he failed to sketch her portrait. The woman looked like Sherine, and she was his only hope of remembering his wife forever. When Baseem enquired the woman about her wedding ring, she replied that she lost it the day she fell into the water. That night at the crossing, when Baseem fell asleep, Sherine fell asleep too. She remembered drowning in the cold water. Baseem refused to believe the woman. He did not believe in ghosts, yet he saw her in front of his eyes four years after her death. Sherine explained that he was witnessing her as a result of a post-traumatic hallucination coupled with a psychiatric disorder. Baseem wanted to desperately meet his wife, and even though she was a product of his imagination, she was right in front of him. Baseem sketched Sherine’s portrait, and after he was done, she left. It seemed that the woman Baseem had seen for the last two days was simply his imagination. His love for his wife and the will to remember her to sketch her portrait resulted in the scenario that unfolded.

‘Notre-Dame’ Ending Explained: How Did The Paris Fire Department Save Notre-Dame? Is It Based On True Events?

General Ducourt focused on keeping his team safe, especially after losing his son to an accident. He was not ready to risk lives to save a building. But for Colonel Varese, Notre-Dame was not just an architectural marvel; it was the subject of her emotions. Varese preferred staying by herself; she enjoyed her company and dedicated herself to her religious belief and work. It was at Notre-Dame that she came across the queer Christian community. She did not know expressing her sexuality as a dedicated Christian was a possibility. She hooked up with an individual from the community. Varese only preferred company at night. She explained that once, a white rabbit told her that she would die at night, which was why she liked to have people around her during that time of the day. Maybe her loneliness overwhelmed her at night, or maybe her death was something she had hallucinated and continued to believe. A white rabbit usually symbolizes commitment in a relationship as well as challenges in love. Even though she knew that she might die during the night, she took the challenge of protecting the place she loved and cherished all her life.

After the spire fell, Varese was stuck with her team inside the cathedral, and the door was locked due to extreme heat and gas. She risked her life to search for Taupin and his team. Upon rescuing them, she went in search of Alice Adamski. When the door of the cathedral was finally opened, Varese, carrying Alice Adamski, managed to leave the building. When General Ducourt gave up on saving Notre-Dame, she forced him to consider tackling the fire from inside the belfry. It was her tactics that ultimately paid off and helped in controlling the fire. From saving Christ’s thorn crown to extinguishing the fire, Colonel Varese played a significant role. She knew how important belief was for mankind, and she could not allow Notre-Dame to collapse in front of her eyes. Varese was proud of Alice; without her help, the mission might have failed. General Ducourt shared the news of Alice’s pregnancy with his wife. The baby was a way to feel closer to the memories of Ben. Elena was reunited with her lover, realizing how much she had missed her life back home.

While the rescue operation conducted by the Paris Fire Department is based on true accounts, the stories surrounding it are fictional and based on the book “La Nuit De Notre-Dame.” The twelve apostles and four evangelists were taken away during the restoration work and, as a result, continue to exist. It is believed that if the structures were left in the cathedral, then chances are that they would have been completely destroyed. The fire was extinguished from the inside of the cathedral, and that was how Notre-Dame was saved from further destruction.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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