1899, a slow agonising sci-fi death
Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar may not be huge names, but they are arguably two of streaming’s most influential figures. Their sci-fi series Dark was Netflix’s first German-language original and was a worldwide success. It paved the way for Squid Game, Lupin, All Of Us Are Dead, and a more global approach to programming.
The Dark team returns two years after the conclusion of their time-traveling, parallel universe-incorporating conspiracy drama.
The 1899 cast includes Emily Beecham, Aneurin Barnard, Anton Lesser, Andreas Pietschmann, and Fflyn Edwards as the lead.
The supporting cast includes Miguel Bernardeau, José Pimentão, Isabella Wei, Yann Gael, Mathilde Ollivier, Jonas Bloquet, Rosalie Craig. Since the 1899 cast is also extended as DARK, the other cast members include Maciej Musia?, Clara Rosager, Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen, Maria Erwolter, Alexandre Willaume, Tino Mewes, and, Isaak Dentler.
Too much mystery!
Their new 1899 series is another horror-mystery puzzle box with a sci-fi twist. The setting in this case is a grand steamship crossing the Atlantic, where class segments was present. The year is 1899, 13 years before the Titanic collides with an iceberg, but the parallels are striking and sensing death.
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To make matters worse, a ship on the same journey disappeared without a trace four months earlier. That ship, the Prometheus sends out a distress signal, which is picked up by the Kerbaros mid-flight. And it is decided that the hell dog ship and the eternally tormented titan ship should finally meet.
A slow death of 1899
A diverse international crew crews the Kerbaros. Moreover, the series is performed in French, English, Cantonese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Danish, and German.
Maura Franklin (Emily Beecham), a doctor with a mysterious past, is at the centre of the rabble, while Ramiro (José Pimento), a Spanish priest also fleeing a mysterious past, provides the moral compass. Eyk Larsen (Andreas Pietschmann), the ship’s captain, is haunted by visions of his own, you guessed it, mysterious past.
A lot of ideas are thrown at the wall in 1899. There’s time and space travel, secret portals, creepy children, and more. However, the pacing is ultimately more perplexing than the science fiction.
The mix up of languages (also still slow)
Each actor exudes a natural stage presence. Despite the fact that a variety of languages are spoken, most of the dialogue appears to be filling time between sci-fi plot machinations.
The plot twists can’t compensate for how oppressively dour everything is when the tone is repeatedly played from such a limited selection of notes.
Little to no insight!
The episodes were frequently excruciating. By the halfway point, where there are such long pauses between dialogues that I had to increase the speed to 1.25x, this becomes mildly amusing. The victims offer little to no insight into events other than puzzled expressions and my constant chant of “this doesn’t make any sense.”
If Dark is any indication, it’s worth hoping that the series’ conclusion will be its pinnacle. However, given the six hours of required viewing prior to the final act, the adventures of the Kerbaros are unlikely to pique the interest of global audience in the same way that Friese and bo Odar’s maiden voyage did.
Watch the trailer here,
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