The Man in the High Castle.

Woodsman

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#1
Amazon has apparently gotten into the TV game with their 10 part production of Philip K. Dick's novel. I can only begin to wonder what this might mean in terms of media...

But anyway...

Two of the four executive producers hired on include Ridley Scott, and one Frank Spotnitz, who was also involved in the production of the X-Files, Lone Gunmen and Millennium.

Anyway...

Holy smokes!

This is an extremely well-made series. Very powerful stuff!

I've not read the Philip K. Dick novel of the same name, so this whole story came as something quite fresh for me.

It's an alternate history story, where Germany got to the bomb first, won WWII, and between itself and Japan, divided up the United States.

There are some sci-fi elements, where these rogue film reels are being smuggled through various groups, films which depict alternate realities where the war came out differently. Veeeerry interesting.

I think the real value of the series, however, was as a depiction of life under pathocratic rule, particularly for those of us who live in the West and who have not had the dubious benefit of such an education in survival under such dour circumstances. There have been many excellent depictions in literature of what it is like to live within a full-blown pathocracy, but none I know of where we see it quite so acutely realized on Western soil, where the viewer is invited to bend his/her mind to the problems of dealing with pathocratic rule in our own lives.

It was instructive. And bloody depressing.

"Wise as a Serpent, Gentle as a Dove"

I fear I would not do well under such circumstances. I'd be hopelessly tempted to speak my mind.

Pathocratic systems are goddamned nasty things, where everybody is terrified of not playing along because to not do so is to invite total destruction. One thing, however, I think this production might not quite have captured was how the ponorized sharks circle in glee, eagerly waiting for somebody to trip up precisely so that they can swarm can attack. Pathocracies are nasty, horrid things which take hold almost anywhere when the requisite conditions are met.

Anyway.., that may not sound like much of a ringing endorsement, but I found this series fascinating and extremely well-made.

And the question of alternate realities is absolutely intriguing, though not particularly well fleshed out in this series, or probably even particularly well understood. -The C's mentioned once that Philip K. Dick was not altogether sane, after all.
 

Yupo

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
#2
Agree, the series was really well done. I didn't read the story so the ending was a surprise for me. Depressing. I appreciate the work/art that went into it.
 

Yupo

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
#3
I just finished watching season 2. Themes are about us being in different realities, playing different parts/roles, and interdimensional bleed-through. Worth a watch.
 

meta-agnostic

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
#4
I've been anticipating the release of season 2 and ended up binge-watching it. Luckily I was able to watch it on a relative's account so the producers and talent will in theory receive credit but no additional money will go to what has become the vile Jeff Bezos propaganda machine.

I read the book some years ago. I remember it starting off kind of slow so I left it for a while but then once I came back to it I got really into it. Somehow the ending did not leave enough of an impression on me to relate it to what might be in the series and then I discovered looking it up on Wikipedia that Dick never really gave it a proper ending:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_in_the_High_Castle

In a 1976 interview, Dick said he planned to write a sequel novel to The Man in the High Castle: "And so there's no real ending on it. I like to regard it as an open ending. It will segue into a sequel sometime."[23] Dick said that he had "started several times to write a sequel",[24] but progressed little, because he was too disturbed by his original research for The Man in the High Castle and could not mentally bear "to go back and read about Nazis again."[24] He suggested that the sequel would be a collaboration with another author: "Somebody would have to come in and help me do a sequel to it. Someone who had the stomach for the stamina to think along those lines, to get into the head; if you're going to start writing about Reinhard Heydrich, for instance, you have to get into his face. Can you imagine getting into Reinhard Heydrich's face?"[24]
The Wikipedia article goes on to say that attempts at a sequel ended up morphing into various other works of Dick's. Alternate realities are certainly a recurring theme of his and specifically alternate histories are one he visited a few times. And as the above quote illustrates, getting into the intricacies of a pathocracy based on real historical figures seems to have been taxing on him.

SEASON 2 THEMATIC SPOILERS:

So this imagined alternate timeline pathocracy is fleshed out quite a bit more and we get glimpses of how it might interrelate with our own not-nearly-as-bad pathocratic vector. The idea that an individual's actions based on his/her inherent consciousness and conscience/morality can have a profound effect on world events seemed particularly fitting in consideration of our current time period. Plus the idea that a little bit of hinting and foreknowledge may be necessary to propel [us] to be in the right frame of mind to act appropriately, but too much could ruin the effectiveness of [our] actions altogether. Not to mention some blatant false-flaggery in the interest of major world conflict. If in theory there are still critically thinking fence-sitters who might be watching this they might perhaps be swayed or woken up by these themes.

Altogether I'd say worth a watch if you have the time and resources (minimal nudity and some moderate violence, nothing quite approaching, say, Westworld) although it's worth considering how Bezos and his wretched Washington Post fit into the picture if you might actually spring for an Amazon Prime account in order to watch it.
 

PhoenixToEmber

Jedi Council Member
#5
Great show. Just started Season 2 over the weekend.

I'm a fan of PKD's work, but haven't read The Man in the High Castle yet. I did read a review of the show comparing it to the book, though, and apparently it diverts from the source material a lot, which isn't surprising.
 

Yupo

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
#6
Another theme in the story is situational influences determining our roles. (spoiler alert)
The roles of the characters change from story to story, depending on their situations. Different worlds, different realities, and different roles. But one character is consistent throughout. Something about purity of heart and intent. Most others are influenced in various ways.
 

JGeropoulas

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#7
I’ve just finished watching the 2nd season (of 2 produced to date). For me, it's been a compelling drama which is well-produced with an excellent cast, whose characters are complex and richly developed.

It features excellent prop details and visual recreation of the 1960’s in general, but also of a reality in which the Nazi’s won WW2 and divided the world up with Japan—with Japan taking the U.S. territory west of the Rockies (picture all of San Francisco as a Japanese "Chinatown"), and the Nazi’s taking everything east (picture Nazi "brutalistic" architecture in Manhattan featuring eagle ornamentation and swastikas banners)—a “temporary arrangement”—“a lie”-- to pacify the Japanese until they too, can be subjugated (“There is only one ‘Master Race’ “).

In this fascist-dominated reality, U.S. citizens are the vanquished underclass who’ve adapted in various ways (one of the more intriguing aspects of this series). Some have completely converted to Naziism, comfortably sieg heil-ing their neighbors; some are resentful, but skillfully behave compliantly; while others have channeled their outrage into the radical activities of the underground “Resistance”.

As this drama unfolds, it draws you into various subplots, alternating—and progressively converging--those unfolding in the Japanese west and those in the Nazi east. One of those subplots involves a Japanese official delving into meditation and discovering how to access a alternate reality (which is the reality familiar to us regarding WW2). This subplot is richly developed, and coherently integrates the interplay between these 2 realities. There is continuity of a sort in that certain people exist in both realities, yet in completely different roles; and the events in one reality create ripple effects in the other reality.

Then there’s the “man in the high castle”--a mysterious figure who creates reels of film depicting alternate realities in which familiar faces often appear in unexpected roles. This is the most mysterious aspect of this series and begs these questions: How does he "create" films which feature people who have not participated in making these films? Are these films from alternate realities, transported as done be the Japanese official?

Hitler, now older and securely ensconced in power as the revered “Feurer”, is obsessed with obtaining all these films because he fears they will put ideas in peoples’ minds. Consequently, possession of these films is punishable by death. Not surprisingly, obtaining them is one of the chief aims of the Resistance.

In the first episode, as a woman in the Resistance flees from the police, she shoves a satchel of films into her sister’s arms, quickly giving her delivery instructions and exclaiming the films are “the way out”. Moments later, she is shot down in the street leaving the sister (and futures episodes, hopefully) to unravel this mystery.

One aspect that I found fascinating is the depiction of life for the middle-class patriotic Nazi’s. Much of this is displayed in peripheral details and conversations, but some subplots revolve directly around certain Nazi policies. The most gripping example first unfolds when a high-ranking Nazi discovers his son has a genetic defect with no cure. The long-time family doctor soberly and compassionately informs the father, saying “John, you know what must be done”, while sliding to him a little metal box containing a syringe and a vial of a euthanasia drug. As they part, the doctor says with genuine sympathy, “Call me when it's been done and I’ll come by”! This collision between patriotic and paternal devotions has many twists and turns before reaching a surprising outcome.

Now that I've read that Dick never finished the book, I'm wondering if there will be a season 3. Season 2 ended with quite a cliff-hanger so I certainly hope so.
 

Yupo

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
#8
John turned out to be quite a complex character, as we saw in the scene looking at his war medal. I think the films are hand carried into the different realities by those that can traverse them. Maybe we will see more of these people.
 

aimarok

Jedi
FOTCM Member
#9
Season 3 is out and feels really good. Two years after last season weren't wasted. Alternative realities got a spin and they call people 'falling' in another realities 'travelers'. OK, no more spoils.
 

Divide by Zero

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#10
I had read this a while ago and forgot to watch the show until I saw this thread again.
I liked seasons 1 and 2 but season 3 was my favorite and I am looking forward to season 4 when it releases!
 
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