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The Man in the High Castle

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Deadline London:

He’s producing a new 4-hour miniseries based on Dick’s The Man In The High Castle for the BBC. Howard Brenton, the British playwright who’s also written for Spooks/MI-5, is adapting the Hugo Award-winning novel. Headline Pictures is also producing with Electric Shepherd Productions, the production arm of Philip K Dick’s estate, and Scott’s production company Scott Free. Fremantle Media, which handles The X Factor, will sell the 4 hour-long episodes overseas. Dick’s novel is a science fiction alternate history, depicting a world in which the Axis powers - Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany - triumphed over the Allies in the Second World War.

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Whoa.
 

Amazon Studios‘ third pilot cycle continues to grow, with the company quietly greenlighting two more pilots, drama The Man In the High Castle and comedy Just Add Magic.

Based on Philip K. Dick’s Hugo Award-winning novel, The Man In the High Castle hails from The X-Files alum Frank Spotnitz and Scott Free. Written by Spotnitz and to be directed by David Semel (Legends), the project set in 1962 explores an alternative reality in which Nazi Germany and Japan won World War II and occupy the United States, with the East Coast controlled by the Nazis and the West Coast owned by Japan, and a chunk of the Midwest still up for grabs. Fascism rules and the few surviving Jews hide under assumed names. But an aging Hitler has one foot in the grave, and the Japanese are preparing for an imminent Nazi stab in the back. The U.S. Resistance is scattered, scared, or crushed. The project originally was set up as a four-hour miniseries at Syfy last year. “The Man In High Castle is one of Dick’s most imaginative and captivating works and certainly one of my favorites,” Scott Free’s Ridley Scott said at the time. Scott, of course, directed the 1982 Blade Runner, one of several feature adaptations of Dick’s books, along with two versions of Total Recall (1990 and 2012), Minority Report (2002) and The Adjustment Bureau (2011). Spotnitz, Semel and Scott Free are repped by WME.

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It's quite good. The sets and design are mostly convincing, and while none of the performances really stood out, none of them were distracting or bad, either. It's been several years since I read the novel, so I don't remember it all that well. From summaries I've been looking at, it seems like Frank Frink's storyline is minimized (at least so far), and the focus is more on Juliana and Joe (they're both in Canon City by the end of the pilot). The I Ching shows up a few times, but seemed to be a bigger presence in the novel. The show also switches The Grasshopper Lies Heavy from a novel to a series of underground reel-to-reel movies, although the function in the story is the same.

 

Hoping it gets picked up.

Edited by Tyler

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A good review from Io9's Meredith Woerner.

 

 

If anything, the edits have streamlined the plot into something much more manageable. Instead of eight main characters there are three. There could certainly be more, but for the pilot's sake, this felt right. I really, truly hope Amazon makes additional episodes because this was an absolute joy to watch. And again it's just gorgeous, and that's exactly the kind of crazy world building we wanted from this series adaptation.

 

She explains the differences between novel and pilot quite well, too.

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Watched the first ep last night. It's pretty. It's also pretty bland. The decision to focus almost entirely on white leads is disappointing, given how ironic the American position in WWII was (fighting racial terror abroad while having it at home). I realize the Nazis would have gone after racial minorities in the US, but even that possibility gets scant attention. The result is that the "us" who were defeated and are now an oppressed people winds up looking like...well, like a bunch of white people. 

I'd much rather have an African American southerner in a central role. At least then the Nazi takeover would feel like it had some texture. 

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I like the show so far, although the storytelling is a bit frustrating. But the marketing could have used a second opinion.

 

I'm with you on both accounts. There's a lot happening, and yet the show still feels like its dragging its heels.

A large part of this was filmed on UBC's campus up here. One of my roommates "stumbled" upon them as they were shooting the big speech with the Japanese Prince, among other things. That scene in particular was rather hilarious for me to watch because they're basically having this big to-do in the middle of the campus, right next to the library I frequent. There's a shot that starts downward and moves up to observe the gathered crowd and I actually recognized the sidewalk first and started laughing. I find it quite fitting that they're repurposing the campus's brutalist architecture, and general affinity for concrete, into a San Francisco under the control of an oppresive regime. 

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I finished the season tonight. The supporting characters (and performances) are more interesting than anyone in the lead love triangle, but the show looks so good and there's so much going on that I was willing to overlook that. In the second half of the season, the show starts dropping hints that

Spoiler

 the "Grasshopper Lies Heavy" films are from alternate dimensions, and the final shot shows a Japanese guy phasing into what looks like "our" California in the early 60s.

Not sure how I feel about that. 

Edited by Tyler

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LARB:

Quote

Notably, African Americans act only in a supporting role here. They fight in the resistance, logically, but occupy only a small amount of screen time. (At least they fare better in the television adaptation than they do in the novel, where Dick has them enslaved in the Pacific States and suffering a worse fate in the South. I presume this element of Dick’s vision was simply too terrible for the Amazon team to bring to the screen.) In the scenes in San Francisco, they are relegated to the background, and of course they are entirely absent from the Reich of New York.

The Man in the High Castle, in other words, returns white bodies to center stage in our national drama. [....]


In this respect, The Man in the High Castle translates onto the screen what might be the most potent political sentiment of our contemporary moment. The resistance movement of the television series captures, unwittingly, a generalized mood among many working-class and middle-class American whites that the time has come for them to throw off the shackles of a multicultural, politically-correct elite. 

 

Edited by NBooth

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THR'Man in the High Castle' Team on Absence of Showrunner: "We're Running in Many Ways Like a Republic"

Quote

"We're running, in many ways, like a republic," executive producer David Zucker said during the Television Critics Association's summer press tour. "There are senior powers in every aspect of the realization of the show." 

He explained that production on the second season of the series was quite expansive, with a writers room in London, filming in Vancouver and post-production in Los Angeles. But he noted that there have been few creative changes to the show following the departure of Spotnitz. "The process with Frank was an extraordinary one," he said. "I think the one thing that's probably most notable to acknowledge is that nothing has changed within the ensemble of the show and all of the talents who are contributing to fill what he so brilliantly set in course."

Edited by NBooth

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Season 3 releases today on Amazon Prime Video. I wrote about the initial pilot being a standout for Amazon and was not disappointed in the full first season. Season two took some interesting turns but for many was ultimately received less warmly. 

 

Has anyone else enjoyed the first two seasons and had any real thoughts heading into this one? I won't be able to binge it right away (I just made it through Jack Ryan a few days ago) but I'm really excited as the trailers seem i to indicate they're going to take some fun chances this season.

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My wife and I just started Season 1.  It strikes me as fairly interesting, with inventive visuals and imaginings of how American life would've been, had we lost WW2.  I'm not sure yet if we'll keep watching, but I'll gladly post my thoughts here if we do.

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