After the success of Dark, German series creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese return to Netflix with 1899. Barely released, the series already enjoyed a sympathy capital inherited from the as complex as successful Dark.
Exit the modern era, 1899 takes place at the end of the 19th century. A liner carries passengers from all over Europe to go to New York and discover the New World. A seemingly quiet trip that will quickly take a new turn.
While sailing in the Atlantic, the crew must change course to rescue Prometheus, an identical liner, missing for several months. Here is the disruptive element that will transform this trip into a mysterious marine adventure, which (notably because of the period costumes) is reminiscent Titanic.
The comparison with the work of James Cameron stops there. The creators of 1899 used the same ingredients as Dark : dark (even anxiety-provoking) atmosphere, multiple characters with a mysterious past, complex plot.
Already in the top Netflix series of the moment, 1899 is it as successful as Dark ? Some members of the team watched a good part of this first season. Here’s what they think.
After the excellent series DarkJantje Friese and Baran bo Odar are back in 1899. Describing this series is very difficult as it is unlike any other. However, it borrows heavily from Dark by the complexity of its construction.
But the closed-doors of a liner that travels to America, the intrigues between passengers who come from the four corners of the globe, and the times are reminiscent Titanic. One thinks in particular of all those men and women who aspire to a new life in the United States, and dream of a new world at the approach of the 20th century. Intriguing, the scenario is clearly not devoid of interest.
It would be a shame to say more about this story, at the risk of spoiling too much. However, we appreciate this well-crafted enigma that keeps the viewer in suspense. On the other hand, it is necessary to give a chance to the series which takes a little time to start. Especially since this fiction is not devoid of some slowness. Whereas Dark started very strong, the pilot of 1899 does not particularly stand out for its dynamism.
It’s a shame, because we know that many spectators drop out quite quickly. Moreover, Netflix asks the showrunners to capture the attention of the public from the first seconds of their productions, but obviously the filmmakers of 1899 slipped through the cracks. We can in any case say that the series will reveal all its interest to those who will be able to show patience.
Finally, visually 1899 fits the story perfectly. We appreciate these moments spent looking at the horizon as if to ward off this distressing present. The production used technology developed by the ILM company. These are LED panels that broadcast stunning decorations. A process already used in the Star Wars series The Mandalorianand more recently in House of the Dragon. The result is there, and the plans hit the mark.
With 1899Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar, redo what made the success of the series Dark : an unidentified visual object at the triple intersection between drama, horror and science fiction.
There are still many triptychs in this new series over the episodes. For example, the trip itself, both transatlantic, philosophical and psychological. In distinguishing between second class passengers, first class and crew, and those who know more or less the situation in which they find themselves.
Or the triangles that take place between several characters – so many nods to the style of the series Darkas a whole built around multiple triptychs: the symbol of the triquetra, three temporal moments spaced 33 years apart, the three versions of Jonas Kahnwald…
In the making of the series, which we strongly advise you to watch next, Jantje Friese explains that the story of 1899 revolves around the question of “our existence, why we are on this planet, who we are, who created us“. Yet the story itself, the characters and the narration voluntarily distance themselves from the series that made Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar famous. First the references: we leave Nietzsche a little to explore the Republic of Plato, in particular the famous myth of the Cave.
The cast, then: there are only new actors, with one notable exception: Captain Eyk Larsen played by Andreas Pietschmann (who played Jonas Kahnwald as an adult in Dark).
A role that suits him perfectly, like that of Emily Bescham, Aneurin Barnard (Daniel), Miguel Bernardeau and José Pimentão (Angel and Ramiro). On the whole, the acting, the lost dialogues between languages and nationalities, are of very high quality. As are the photography and the sets. The series uses the same virtual set technology found in The Mandalorian for a simply breathtaking visual experience from the first to the last episode.
The only small criticism that can be made to 1899, it’s the pace of the first episode a bit slow. However, we strongly encourage you to hang in there. Something major happens from the second episode (“Le Garçon”), and the pace picks up significantly from the 4th episode (“L’Affrontement”).
I come out of the 8th episode completely shaken and fascinated, and can’t wait to see what the director couple has in store for us for season 2, which is on track to be a real smack, once again.