TV Review: “The Man in the High Castle” – Powerful

Written by Danielle Sing December 10, 2015

the man in the high castle

In January 2015, the pilot of “The Man in the High Castle” was released on Amazon Prime, and I was absolutely amazed by the quality and the fact that a series with this subject matter was being created. Based off the novel of the same name by Philip K Dick, this political thriller is set in an alternate reality of 1962 America. “The Man in the High Castle” is complex, full of history, embodies a slow pace, and is stunning to our senses. “The Man in the High Castle” will still find a home in the hearts of many despite not airing on a majour television network.

“The Man in the High Castle” is set in an alternate reality in which the Axis Powers won World War II instead of the Allies, with the Japanese and German empires sharing the land once known as the United States of America. Germany controls everything east of the Rocky Mountains (Greater Nazi Reich) and Japan controls the west (Japanese Pacific States). The Rocky Mountains themselves are a neutral zone where disabled people, people of colour, Jews and followers of other religions, and any other “undesirables” find safety. Some people are trying to live their lives peacefully under the new rule and others are forming a resistance to restore America. The series starts in 1962, as the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan arrive and rumours of Adolf Hitler dying emerge. Juliana Crane (Alexa Davalos) finds herself forced to help the Resistance when her sister is murder by Japanese officers, and she meets Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank) in the neutral zone; Joe is a man in the Resistance but he’s also spy for John Smith (Rufus Sewell), the SS Obergruppenführer of the Greater Nazi Reich.

the man in the high castle

There is a lot of political knowledge and historic references in the series which unfolds as it progresses. Even if you don’t know a lot about this period of time, the series has a slow enough pace which makes all of the different characters and motives that much easier to follow. Admittedly, it’s the slow pace, political and historical subject matter of “The Man in the High Castle” that would probably not appeal to general audiences. While the slow pace is effective for story-telling purposes, it may be too slow to catch the attention of some viewers. And it’s no surprise that the subject matter could be a risk for major networks as it could be seen as potentially offensive.

“It takes a lot of effort not to be free, keeping your head down, holding your tongue.”

“The Man in the High Castle” is complex and full of stunning visual details. You will always find something new that reinforces the change in America’s alternate history or that invokes the newly subtle style of the 1960’s. Whenever the Nazi and Japanese flags are shown together, the circles on the flags are always in perfect symmetry, and the use of red as an accent colour throughout the entire show to exaggerate these flags (as a symbol of the ruling nations power) is a nice little bow for all of the visual details. The opening credits is set to ‘Edelweiss’ from “The Sound of Music”, but the song is like a haunting lullaby and almost doesn’t sound like English. The scene in which a young Japanese boy first sees a gun – which are restricted in the Japanese Pacific States – and convinces Frank Frink (Rupert Evans) with his eyes to not use it is completely mesmerizing, both visually and musically.

the man in the high castle

Overall, “The Man in the High Castle” is a series to watch if you can keep an open mind about the subject matter and understand its entertainment value. The series has a slow pace that aids the flood of political and historical information, but the overall stunning visuals and musicality will allow you to get your head above the water. “The Man in the High Castle” is a must-watch if you’re in need of a breath of fresh air from television shows.

My Rating: 8.5/10

the man in the high castle

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