'The Man in the High Castle' Review: Amazon's brilliant series based on Philip K. Dick's alternate history novel

By Murtaza Ali Khan

The Man in the High Castle

Recently I finished watching the first season of The Man in the High CastleAmazon’s most-watched original series created by Frank Spotnitz—and I must say that I am impressed! As a matter of fact, I am convinced beyond doubt that it is the best running series on offer currently. Ever imagined what would have happened had the Nazis prevailed during the Second World War? The Man in the High Castle presents an alternate version of the US wherein the Second World War was won by the Nazi-led Axis powers leading to bifurcation of the country into two powers—the Greater Nazi Reich and the Japanese Pacific States. Now there is a constant tension between the two states with the Greater Nazi Reich having a decisive technological advantage. Amidst the all-pervasive cold war there are characters whose paths cross each other on coming into contact with a series of propaganda films that seem to depict a vastly different reality. The Man in the High Castle is based on the 1962 novel of the same name by the renowned sci-fi author Philip K. Dick. The series stars Alexa Davalos, Rupert Evans, Luke Kleintank, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, and Rufus Sewell in the pivotal roles. The celebrated English filmmaker Ridley Scott is the executive producer of the series.

The Man in the High Castle is your chance to witness the alternate reality and be grateful that the Nazis were vanquished before it was too late. The series presents such intriguing characters and subplots that they would blow any thinking viewer's mind. Speaking of the characters, I haven't seen so many complex caricatures in a single series. We have the wise Trade Minister Nobusuke Tagomi for whom peace comes above all things, the gritty Obergruppenführer John Smith who would do everything in his power to keep himself and his family alive, the pretty Juliana Crain who is the moral compass of the story and her troubled lover Frank Frink desperate to hide his Jewish ancestry, the charming but duplicitous Joe Blake, the no-nonsense Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido, and the greedy but tenacious salesman Robert Childan, among others. And if that's not enough then we also have a senile and surprisingly peace-loving Adolf Hitler in the mix. The rest of the supporting cast is no less remarkable: be it the sadistic bounty hunting Marshall, who doesn't think twice before terminating his victims in cold blood, or the disillusioned high-ranking Nazi official Rudolph Wegener, who seems to share a unique bond with the Japanese Trade Minister Tagomi, or Frank’s timid but loyal colleague and friend, Ed McCarthy.

The Man in the High Castle

The series’ attention to the period detail is striking to say the least. The Man in the High Castle has already won a well deserved Emmy for its Title Design. The eerie tone of the series is set right from the title theme song 'Edelweiss' borrowed (but completely transformed) from The Sound Of Music. Of course, it wouldn't have been what it is today without its brilliant parallel editing that at times seems greatly inspired by the Baptism Sequence from The Godfather. The brilliant first season has certainly raised my expectations and I just can’t wait to binge on the second season. The season finale ends on a fascinating cliffhanger with my favorite character Tagomi-san finally beginning to realize the true wonders of I Ching—an ancient Chinese text perceived by some as a divination manual.

The Man in the High Castle

Overall, The Man in the High Castle is absolutely brilliant and impossible to forget. I must confess that after watching the pilot it was a bit difficult to decide. But the subsequent episodes have constantly improved. It is not like Game of Thrones where half of the season is spent on setting up the season's finale, for every episode takes us deeper into the alternate reality originally envisioned by the great Philip K. Dick. The reviews for the second season have been quite encouraging and we can expect the third season by the end of 2017. So there's enough time if you want to catch up on the first two seasons before the third one goes live.

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!

The Man in the High Castle Season 1 - Official Trailer 

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  1. You have perfectly articulated my thoughts on this wonderful series. Still loving it after 2 seasons and eagerly awaiting season 3.


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