The Man in the High Castle – Amazon Prime
Alex Willmott @alexinboxes
I was pleased that the Man in the High Castle veered stuck more to the ‘spirit’ of the author’s masterpiece than the ‘letter’ of it. I know it’s almost blasphemy to even think that, considering the unquestionable genius of Philip K. Dick. But when the depth of performance delivered by a phenomenal cast, notably Sewell, Davalos and Fuente, you have to take your critic hat off, get a cold one from the fridge and let your mind get blown. And for 98% of the entire four-season journey, that’s exactly what it was – mind-blowing.
An incredible sci fi effort, very different to the Stranger Things world, and indeed the Netflix gem ‘Dark’. And what sets the Man in the High Castle apart is two-fold; subject matter and script. The deep dive into the darkness of fascism and the danger of nationalism is spread like butter for the viewer to taste. And the taste is utterly disturbing.
Set in an alternate world to our own, where the Nazis won the war and now co-lead the world with the Japanese forces, we see the desperate hopes of the refugee and rebel classes. And this constant reminder of hope goes on to shatter relationships as individuals begin to poke the bear more and more. A film has been found showing our world, where we the viewer exist – where the Nazis were overthrown. More films of different realities soon begin to surface, until we see a wonderful crossing of the worlds.
To capture what it would be like for an American-turned-Nazi military leader to pass into another version of his life where he’s a liberal American businessman, is not an easy task. Throw in a tragedy where in his original world, his son was executed by the state for being born with a disease deemed unfit for the gene pool, but in the other reality his son is fit and healthy; and we have some incredible moments of theatre before us.
And up until the last two minutes of the final episode I was referring to this adaptation as one for the history books. Flawless episode after flawless episode was delivered and instantly dominated the TV choices on offer. It evoked almost every human emotion and silenced living rooms across the country with its brutality and beauty. And as subtle and substantial as the series was, its ending sadly lacked a hell of a lot of both.
Why do it? Why fucking bother? Why pay such meticulous detail to obeying the laws of the portal jump (if you’re alive in both places, you’ll die in the tunnel) only to choose an exodus through the gate at the end? You could have brought anything through that tunnel. You could have put Trudy and Frank in there. Or a tank with Thomas inside. You could have called it Thomas the tank engine.
Anything! Or nothing. Even nothing. Even if you left the actors stood there staring like they’d watched a walrus shit out a replica BMW Z4 and we never got see it, yes, even that would have been more suited to the adaptation. If you’re going to meander from the original ending with such vigour, you have to commit wholeheartedly. This was weak. I was half expecting to see the actors line up and take a bow at the end.
Anyway, it’s a 4/5 show, and should have been 5/5. A lazy ending shoehorned into some of the finest writing, directing and acting I’ve ever seen.