The Man in the High Castle S01e10 the Man in the High Castle: Solid to the End

In a context where the supply of series has never been so abundant, the Screen Saver[s] intends to be your guide through the seasons. Whether it’s an old series that is now cult, a recent hit or a more anonymous show, this new review will help you waste your time only in good company.

Following the release of its fourth season a few days ago The Man in the High Castle has now been definitively ended on Amazon Prime Video This is not only one of the very first original series of the platform, but certainly one of the best.

Accompany the reading of this article with music from the series:

The Castle in the Sky

Amazon Prime Video seems to especially appreciate the work of Philip K. Dick

In addition to the series that literally bears his name, namely Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams – uneven, but a nice anthological work at Black Mirror – the American was also represented from 2015 by the adaptation of his cult and award-winning novel, The Man in the High Castle… Or The Master of the High Castle in the language of those who built the Maginot Line, if you like.

As mentioned in the intro, this one ended shortly after 4 seasons of 10 episodes each. A very pleasant format, because it allows you not to drag it out too long while taking the time necessary to develop your story correctly (and to conclude it). But, above all, it allows us to go further than the novel ever was.

The Man in the High Castle is a uchronic work that starts in 1962 – that’s also the date the book was published, funny, isn’t it? -in a not-so-jojokey context. The Axis won the Second World War by using the atomic bomb before the Allies.

The plot is set in the United States where Germany reigns with an iron fist on the East Coast while Japan has reclaimed the West Coast A neutral zone is squeezed in between and as you can imagine the atmosphere is not at its best for those who do not submit to the Führer’s fury or the Emperor’s grip.

Look in VO, tank to do

And since we’re talking about atmosphere, let’s bring it up immediately. The Amazon series has many strong points, but its dark, sometimes light-flooded, sometimes oppressive atmosphere is undoubtedly one of the main ones. The chipped sets, the meticulous costumes, the rare but solid special effects and the photography – which only gets better and better over the course of the series – truly breathe quality and realism.

This nice work on the visual aspect reinforces a constant immersion that makes us believe in the alternative world that the series offers us; the alternation between the dialogues in English, German and Japanese also helps. Seeing the Nazi headquarters, a huge building topped with a swastika, in the middle of New York City or Japanese warships passing under the Golden Gate Bridge, certainly leaves no stone unturned.

It must be said that, as an appealing product to entice people to subscribe to Prime Video The Man in the High Castle certainly has significant financial resources and producers who know what they are doing. We’re talking about Ridley Scott (is it useful to describe his filmography?) and Frank Spotnitz (a veteran of The X-Files who also acts as creator here).

A bit of science fiction that makes Führer

But let’s quickly get back to the scenario if you don’t mind. Rather than just drawing the uchrony of a world where the Allies would not have overthrown Hitler, K. Dick – true to form – has mixed science fiction into it. Indeed, and without saying too much, a mysterious film where we can see the Allies winning the war (as in our world, what) makes its appearance. Intrigued, the various forces involved will try to seize it. I can’t tell you any more without disclosing, but the forces at hand are not going to go down without a fight, I promise.

So the show follows several characters on all sides. This willingness to offer several points of view is, unsurprisingly, very interesting. Both for its alternative historical side which deals with many topics (the treatment of losers and minorities, the “Aryan race”, the death of American culture…etc.), but also for the richness of the plot (there will be conflicts, betrayals, deaths…).

There aren’t two series like The Man in the High Castle”

Even if at first glance we think we’re dealing with a rather Manichean work (Nazis aren’t very nice, in general), over the seasons the characters and their motivations evolve enormously. All without exception are very regularly torn between their allegiances, needs and beliefs, and to follow their peregrinations in this rich context is fascinating. For that there are not two series like The Man in the High Castle.

If I had to cite just one example, it would be John Smith, played by the impeccable Rufus Sewell. This former American soldier is now a high-ranking officer for the Reich. Understanding how and why he got to this point, seeing what he accepts or refuses to do, or how his behaviour affects his family and the people, are all elements that make this character, however hateful at first sight, exciting to follow.

A plot that does not end at the Reich

(If you have grasped this pun, you are among the 7.8% of the population with a sense of humour that can be described as borderline).

The Man in the High Castle is not an action series, no. It’s by going further that she got loved. There’s action, of course. Especially in the form of fairly numerous and sometimes surprising deaths.

But it is above all a rich “historical” and political show. Perhaps the series, which is relatively talkative and has a rather calm rhythm, will not suit everyone. However, the show rarely speaks for nothing and the writing of the dialogues, like that of the screenplay, is in the image of the whole: solid.

It’s this word, “solid”, that I would remember if I had to use only one to summarize this Amazon series, so much it will have been from beginning to end.

This series is for you if :

– You like uchronies, even with Nazis

– You want a series well developed on the content as well as on the form

– You like rich characters and complex stakes

This series is not for you if :

– You’re looking for a series with a lot of action

– You don’t want SF in your “historical” series

In case I haven’t been clear enough, the 4 seasons of The Man in the High Castle are available on Amazon Prime Video.

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