"1899" is the best Netflix series of the year

opinion | Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar are the geniuses behind “Dark”. Your new Netflix series “1899” has now been released – and has deeply impressed our editor Michael Hille. For him, “1899” is not only better than “Dark”, but maybe the best Netflix series of all time.

What’s the matter? This is difficult to explain with “1899”.

Has Netflix ever made anything as good as 1899?


This series is a revolution for Germany: “1899” was filmed using the innovative new volume technology.

After the mega success of “Dark”, Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar were really allowed to let off steam: “1899” is a series at the highest technical level. As the first German production, it was created using the still novel Volume technology, in which the actors no longer act in front of a green screen, but instead the backgrounds are created in a 360-degree angle around them using LED walls. So far, the process has only been used in inestimably expensive Disney productions such as the “The Mandalorian” series. For Europe, “1899” is revolutionary in terms of style alone, and it’s a blessing how excellent cameraman Nikolaus Summerer knows how to use these resources Images of supreme beauty and excitement generated. The same applies to the famous work of production designer Udo Kramer – both of them worked together with Friese and bo Odar on “Dark”.

The atmosphere and deep fascination for all the secrets, the implied, the unspoken, they create one after just a few minutes uncanny pull. All the actors are particularly brilliant, and they all speak their mother tongue here, which means: The English speak English, the German captain talks to his crew in German, the Spaniards or Dutch mostly keep to themselves and understand the others as little as they do themselves be understood. This increases the aura of mystery and only the subtitles allow us to overcome the language barrier (unless you look at the German dubbed version, which unfortunately simply Germanizes all dialogues – which means that many scenes only make limited sense).

Then when the first episode ends in a spooky, witty montage to the music of Jefferson Airplane’s hippie rock classic “White Rabbit” and one never-ending stream of goosebumps caused, one is even tempted to say: Netflix has never produced anything so grandiose.

“1899” makes tremendous promise! Will it be redeemed?


Even the official poster for “1899” is a single, enticing mystery.

Since “The Wire” and “Deadwood” has no longer used foreign music (i.e. licensed songs) as phenomenally as “1899” does now. Later montages and scenes, for example, Deep Purple’s “Child in Time” or Black’s “The Wizard”. Sounding the Sabbath are already nominated as series highlights of the decade. By the way: The intro (“White Rabbit” is also playing here, but as a modern cover) is a work of art in itself, showing a heap of motifs and silhouettes in the style of a “James Bond” opening credits. If you want to decipher the mysteries behind “1899” and its complex network of characters, you should definitely consider the opening credits and their symbols, colors, shapes and patterns.

The press was able to see six of the eight episodes in advance and in them one highlight follows the next. Captivating scenes full of tension and trepidation as well as brilliant dialogue follow one another at lightning speed and the series finds its topicality in the linguistic differences of the passengers. Ultimately, this is about understanding, about expressing yourself, standing up for one another and sticking together – even if you don’t understand each other’s language. One can certainly interpret “1899” as a modern version of the story of the Tower of Babel, like as Plea for international understanding and European community across all borders.

When it comes to mystery series, there is always one question: Can all this be reasonably resolved? “1899” gets an immense leap of faith here, because Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar have revealed every secret in “Dark”, solved every riddle, answered every question. In three seasons they have proven that they can get even the most confused plots under control, and that it pays off to puzzle over and puzzle over. This promise now also makes “1899”. The remaining two episodes must show whether it is adhered to. Hopefully not yet – after all, a second season would be some of the best news to come out of Netflix in a long time.

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