Sunday, November 15, 2015

Man in the High Castle: Amazon Spins Reality in Series Adaptation

Based on Phillip K. Dick’s award-winning, alternate-reality novel, Amazon’s new series, “The Man in the High Castle” presents the unsettling prospect of the Axis forces having won World War II, with a down-the-line focus, circa 1962. 

The result of the Axis victory (finalized by an A-bomb on D.C.) has created a shared U.S., with Germany controlling the east and Japan the west. A Resistance opposes both forces, but there also exists an underlying friction between Germany and Japan: a prospect that the former may attack the latter upon Hitler’s demise.

Produced by Frank Spotiniz and Ridley Scott; directed by Spotiniz and written by David Semel, the series' principles are Alexa Davalos as Juliana Crain; Rupert Evans as Frank Frink; and Luke Kleintank as Joe Blake. 

Crain possesses a film strip that her sister obtained prior to her death, and Blake is a truck driver, who expresses Resistance sympathy, but he also harbors a secret. Rounding out the fine cast is Brennan Brown; Arnold Chun; Joel de la Fuente; DJ Qualls; Daniel Roebuck; Carsten Norgaard; Rufus Sewell; and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa; with other competent performers also on board. 

Crain’s film shows the Allies winning the war. Is the footage a propagandist ruse? Crain’s boyfriend (Evans) believes it is, attributing the work to the enigmatic Man in the High Castle...whomever he may be. 

Amazon premiered the series' first two episodes in late October, but the official stretch starts on November 20, with all episodes available for viewing at such time. 

From the start, the series prompts us to question what would have fallen through the cracks if the opposing forces had won. Imagine a world weighed by prevailing anti-Semitism, that's bypassed Elvis, the Beatles, Godzilla, Jack Kerouac, Martin Luther King; a world where our most basic, taken-for-granted freedoms are outlawed. It’s a chilling concept dosed in espionage, Orwellian set-ups and the profound notion that "Evil triumphs only when good men do nothing."

I’ll report on the show's progress via replies. I must say, for the long haul, this one looks most promising. 


  1. Continuing with "High Castle". It's rather subdued in its disturbing nature, but fascinating to no end. Wish I had more time to watch it all in one fell swoop, but digesting it in portions should be no less engaging. The concept has an interesting dynamic: through the despair, hope rises. It would have to; for no lover of freedom could accept such a terrible set of circumstance at face value. Somehow or other, the absurdity of the madness would have to crumble.

    1. PS: The reference to the "man who makes little, paper animals" is neat: a "Blade Runner" reference and a nice nod to the cinematic universe that rose from Dick's work.

  2. As I watch "High Castle", I find Frink the most engaging character. Though maddened and reckless, his anguish is contagious, his motivation basic but realistic under the crazed circumstances. I'm most interested to see how things turn out for him, good or bad, as the episodes mount.

  3. Besides the Orwellian twists, which seemed most distinct in Episode 6, I find the most unsettling trait of "High Castle" to be the nonchalance toward the oppressive state of things. Sure, the Resistance is there, working away surreptitiously, but the mainstream consensus of those shackled is acceptance. There's something troubling and realistic about that: damn hard to shake.

  4. Finished "High Castle".

    It was gripping, but often disturbing: different than "Alien Nation", "Planet of the Apes" or Rod Serling's "Eye of the Beholder", where the parallels are fancifully disguised. This hit close to reality, even though the events were of an alternate kind.

    Much of the story paralleled matters that are happening today, or so I perceived. Would people so readily resign their rights this way? The good people in "High Castle", however, had no choice but to deal with what was dealt to them, but why would anyone blessed by freedom wish to discard it for totalitarian control?

    "High Castle" made me ruminate upon that notion a lot, and a fair sum of the time I was left worried and doubtful about the future. Still, the series does project some hope, and like its daring leads, I savored such with as much fervor as I could.

    1. PS: Not to spoil things, but I gotta say, the final scene of the season is a true treat--caps things off nicely.