The Man In The High Castle - Pilot
It's on my list okay ?!?!
It's on my list of books regarded as classics that I might one day get around to reading. Maybe. If I run out of other stuff to do . And I get the time. Here it is presented as an Amazon TV Pilot.
There is a reason why it hasn't jumped to the top of the pile, the premise has put me off.
Stop me if you've heard this before ....
America has been taken over by....
(Dramatic Chord) ....
NO... WAIT ...
COME BACK ..!
I HAVEN'T FINISHED....
Oh well ..
I'm going to write a review anyway!
For starters, the opening credits manage to get the premise across in a few seconds, a feat rarely achieved, but given the familiarity of SOME of the storyline that shouldn't be difficult. Take a map of the USA and stick a swastika on it and bingo were in alternative Earth/History territory and instantly....lots of people turn it off. They shouldn't though. The title sequence is quality, a soulful, almost funereal version of 'Edelweiss' mournfully sung over WWII newsreel footage superimposed onto arty shots of American iconic monuments.
Hang on though...
What's this? There are TWO flags over the USA , Nazi Germany in the East AND Imperial Japan in the West, with what appears to be a buffer zone between them.
The head spins with the possibilities .
Well not really.
But it should, given that the original story was penned by the master of weird Phillip K. Dick back in 1962, it was probably a precursor to many of the clichés associated with the Allies losing the war. That said, the story may not have been written as a cliché but in the 53 years it's been around it will now be part of a whole familiar genre.
So given that the premise is a dead cert then , we'll be looking for a resistance movement...
Bully boys on the streets...
Daring escapes from the clutches of evil fascists .
You got it.
American women teaching Aikdo to Japanese men ...
American Women shopping for Chinese remedies in an alternative medicine store.
And it must be 1946 with Adolf Hitler in the Whitehouse (we must be on safe ground with that one...).
It's 1962, and the Washington has been destroyed by an 'H' bomb. Hitler is still around though, but not in the best of health, with speculation that his part in the Thousand Year Reich will be over in the next few months, the West-coasters are worried that his replacement will be converting the Japanese controlled states into a radioactive slag-heap.Tensions between The Greater Reich And the Imperial Pacific States are cordial on the face of it but very strained underneath.
We have central characters from both coasts. In the east Joe Blake joins the resistance minutes before the Brownshirts arrive. He's now on the run with a truck and a map. In San Fransisco, its Julianna Crane, who's sister Trudi is euphoric that she's found 'The Reason'. Later that night Trudi is lying in the street with a fatal hole in her chest after first thrusting a mysterious package at Julianna. The contents of this package is a film that Julianna can't stop watching, purportedly clever fakes of an Allied victory produced by the titular 'Man In The High Castle'.
Julianna sets off with the film to the neutral zone (no, not that one) in her sister's place to find out whats going on.
Joe is heading for the same place.
Whilst in the background, the authorities on both coasts are chasing them down.
Its worth mentioning Rufus Sewell as the prime Nazi officer here, sadistic, scheming and thorougly nasty. He berates one of his torturers for not beating a man after the victim has been beaten into a permanent coma. He wants to send a message, but not the one you think.
There seem to be a few different threads here, and lots of intrigue and counter-intrigue. Its complex and isn't spoon feeding its audience.
It feels like a superior production in visuals and sound and manages to evoke a real quality alternate history. There's a fatality to it, no-one is happy, only a few brief moments from Trudi that we see the day before she dies.
Extermination of the non-pure is an accepted way of life. At one point, flakes of ash drift over Joe from a hospital, the local deputy calmly telling him which particular group is being incinerated today.
I liked this Pilot and hope it gets to be series, it needs viewers so please watch and vote at Amazon.
If it does pick up a series it certainly seems to be worth buying into. Especially if it's to resolve the wonderful cliffhanger at the end of the pilot.
Ja, Amazon San...