Phillip K. Dick is one of the best authors of science-fiction and one which is linked to (probably) the best adaptation of SF novel in history: “Blade Runner”. Combination of Phillip K. Dick and Ridley Scott scored jackpot in the hearts of SF fans, and new cooperation of the dynamic duo can be seen in new Amazon pilot: “Man in the High Castle”.
Unfortunately, Ridley Scott is just a producer of the series (it would be nice to see him to direct this) but the pilot was unquestionably better than his recent films and it is one of pilots to look forward in the year to come. That is, if Amazon buys the whole season of the series but I can’t see why not. From the last pilot season we did get “Transparent” and “Mozart in the Jungle”, we will get “After” and “Bosch” and “Man in the High Castle” is well deserved member of that company.
Amazon’s original series so far were highly comical, rich with cynicism and criticism, but also very fast and easy to watch. After I’ve seen the full season of “Mozart in the Jungle” I was delighted with comedy, Gabriel Garcia Bernal and tempo of the series. Although, series isn’t a masterpiece it is enjoyable enough and easy to watch. Comedies were first to get full seasons on “Amazon Prime” and other genres are still on hold, but their release dates are confirmed. “After” was darker in nature (invasion, people in panic and so on) and “Bosch” was very close to “Wire” in his atmosphere. Both series, however, still wait for release. “Transparent” on the other hand has won the Globe and it was one of the most original series in the last year.
“Man in High Castle” is an adaptation of the well-known alternate history novel which can be described with a tagline: “What would’ve happened if the Nazis won WW2?” Most of Europe is controlled by German Reich, most Asia by Empire of Japan and United States are divided between two nations (parallel of Germany in our reality). Two nations are also in that stale-mate condition we all know by another name – Cold War. In this Cold War, however, annihilation seems imminent. Nature of two regimes seeks world domination and the characters in the novel (and the series) will find themselves in the crosshairs of the global conflict. In the pilot we can see the grand opening for the conflict, we can see characters tormented by their inner loyalties and we can see people who are not what they seem to be. Spy thriller in alternate reality.
Alexa Davalos as Juliana Crane is the center figure of the story and I can tell very good choice for the star of the show. She seems lost in the fascist world and she tries to live her life without prejudices everybody else has. When she is pulled into the conspiracy that involves mysterious “Man in High Castle” she will not have choice but to choose side and try to unveil what is behind the mysterious identity of the man whose films show the well-known scenes of Allies winning the WW2. Scenes that Nazi propaganda tries to stop from ever being seen. Luke Kleintank as Joe Blake is also a character that will be very important in the story. His goal is also to meet the mysterious filmmaker but his motives are yet unclear. Tolerance is non-existent in the world of this pilot. Tolerance exists only for those willing to cooperate with the government and the atmosphere in that regard is similar to that in Orwell’s 1984. Direction is well done for the pilot, and David Semel seems to have enough potential to continue the dark mood of the story. Pilot is very promising, much more than the others of this Amazon pilot season.
We’ll see the direction in which the story will take us, but for now it is very intriguing. I can just say that I hope we’ll not be waiting another year for the full season. I’m a bit nervous about “After” and “Bosch already. But patience is a virtue and it will pay off if Amazon makes this on the same level as pilot. I would recommend to wait for the whole season and then watch this one, but if you want to see the opening of what could possibly be very good book adaptation go ahead. Dark and gloomy world of extremes waits. “Man in High Castle” is one to keep an eye on.
Rating of the pilot: 8/10.