Daily Recco, March 19: The Man in High Castle, a chiller-thriller that is not horror
The Man in High Castle could well have set a pretty high bar for other alternate history storylines.
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When it first came out, it was hailed as being like nothing else on television. Well, it wasn’t actually on television, but Amazon Prime’s The Man in the High Castle was a show that has set the bar for an entire genre. The alternate history story is based on the book of the same name by sci-fi legend Philip K Dick and is a must-watch if you want to be chilled to the bone by something that is not a horror story.
The show is set in the 1960s, in a world in which Germany and Japan won World War II and rule the world. Nowhere to be seen is the American exceptionalism that has led the world and that country into wars with no victor. What we see on screen are Americans with grit but not the America of excess.
The US has been divided into a Greater Nazi Reich on the East Coast, with the West Coast ruled by Japan. In the middle is a neutral zone. Needless to say, there is a band of rebels who are trying to fight the Japanese and the Germans.
At the core of the story are films that seem to show other ways in which important events play out. Get it? Alternate history inside alternate history — how very meta. These films are chased by the rebels and by Fuhrer Adolf Hitler himself, who has become somewhat obsessed with them.
What follows is a gripping story that spans multiple genres — political thriller, love drama, action and science fiction. But most of all, given its high visibility, The Man in the High Castle might have just set the bar for how alternate history storylines are perceived and made.
The show is anchored by outrageously good performances by Rupert Sewell, Alexa Davalos, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Luke Kleintank, Rupert Evans, Joel de la Fuente and DJ Qualls in key roles. When Ridley Scott is the executive producer, it wouldn’t be out of place to expect something excellent and that is exactly what we get.
The storyline of The Man in the High Castle goes well beyond the cult-classic book that is not all that long. But it deals with the central question with skill and flair. And that is the central question you will ask yourself a few times when you watch what plays out on screen. What if...