Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Mad Men: Obergruppenführer edition

Guest-poster and Amazon Prime subscriber Zach is here to tell you all about Man in the High Castle. Ever imagine what would have happened if the Axis won WWII? Amazon has you covered. --Maggie Cats

Truth is, I’ve been waiting for Amazon’s adaptation of Man in the High Castle for some time; it’s one of my favorite books, and I’ve been hearing about it’s expertly crafted dystopian sci-fi world since September

The plot in two sentences: In this world, Germany got the atomic bomb first, and used it on Washington, DC, ending WWII and dividing up the United States into the occupied “Greater Nazi Reich” and the Japanese puppet state, Pacific States of America. The series brings us in during the early 1960s, focusing on the capitals of each of these states, New York and San Francisco. 

The two main characters are Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos), who's trying to figure out exactly what her newly deceased sister was wrapped up in, and Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank), a Nazi double agent posing as a resistance fighter. 

Will you like it? If you like lush, gorgeous detail, and the intersection of 1960s culture and consumerism colliding with Nazi/Japanese domination, then yeah. The series provides a rich crop of easter eggs and clever visual asides and it's clear the show creators really thought through this alternate universe. I found myself pausing and rewinding constantly, checking out small amusements such as a little boy reading a copy of the kid’s magazine, “Ranger Reich.”

Also, rocket planes are a thing.

Beyond the detail though, is a near-constant gripping drama, with the only lull spent in an early episode in Canon City, a “wild-west” located in the neutral zone of the Rocky Mountains, the last refuge for outcasts (elderly, albinos, Jews, etc.) who would be institutionalized or exterminated in either state.

Drama’s not your thing? Then enjoy the rich secondary characters (who sometimes outshine the leads). Let your stomach get queasy when you find yourself essentially agreeing with the family values espoused by the Rockwellian Smith family, the paterfamilias being a strict but kind husband and father, but also the head of the SS for the Greater Nazi Reich with a prevalence for sadism. Revel in the fascinating social commentary on race and gender--at one point our lead characters are led through a “white dancers only” fetish strip club, run by the Yakuza. The series seems tailored for us to examine our own America through our glimpse at this fictional world.

For me, the only downside to this adaptation is that the eerie version of “Edelweiss” featured in the opening credits is my new nightmare fuel. Here’s hoping it can be yours too.

Man in the High Castle is on, and is free to Amazon Prime members. All episodes are available for streaming Nov. 20th, 2015.

1 comment:

James said...

The opening song brings a whole new vibe to The Sound of Music.