As Americans we love to ask the question, “What if?” What if we hadn’t gone to Vietnam? What if JFK had lived? We also love conspiracy theories and we always question what we are told is true. For the history buffs like myself or those who love seeing an American story through the lenses of an alternate reality, Amazon Prime’s The Man in the High Castle is your ticket to television happiness.
Imagine if America had lost World War II. Imagine if Adolf Hitler had survived. Imagine if Germany and Japan joined forces and divvied up the United States. Pretty crazy, right? It is. But, that’s the beauty of Man in the High Castle because it takes this unimaginable scenario and makes it feel as real as a National Geographic documentary.
Based on the Phillip K. Dick novel of the same name, The Man in the High Castle tells the story of 1962 America-which has been split into three districts; the West Coast is controlled by the Nazis, the East Coast is under rule of the Japanese and the mid-west is deemed “neutral territory.” Americans are either content with the state of their once free country while many are unhappy and have formed an underground resistance. Members of the resistance use Cold War-era spy tactics to spread information across the country, and if caught, well history has taught us how Hitler dealt with those he deemed “unworthy.”
Upon watching the pilot episode, I was hooked. The show grips you as well as any Spielberg war epic all while maintaining originality and a freshness that I haven’t seen on television in a long time.
The performers are beautifully cast and help establish the authenticity of the show while delivering compelling performances. Alexa Davalos (Defiance) stars as Juliana Crain, a young woman whose life is turned upside down after her sister is punished for joining the resistance. Davalos favors a younger Ellen Pompeo, but grittier and less whiney. Rupert Evans (Hellboy) portrays Davalos’ love interest, Frank; a young man who joins the resistance after the Japanese government threaten his family. Luke Kleintank (Pretty Little Liars) portrays Joe Blake, a Nazi agent who begins to question his allegiances upon meeting Juliana, Rufus Sewell (The Holiday, Killing Jesus) gives the most terrifying performance as American-born Nazi officer Obergruppenführer John Smith. Other notable performances include Joel de la Fuente (Law and Oder: SVU) as Inspector Kiddo and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Pearl Harbor) as Nobusuke Tagomi.
Produced by Ridley Scott (Aliens, American Gangster) the show also features a beautiful score by Henry Jackman (X-Men: First Class) and Dominic Lewis and a haunting opening theme song-a melancholy rendition of “Edelweiss” performed by Jeanette Olsson.
Bottom line: The Man in the High Castle takes a subject rarely touched by network television and brings it to life in a captivating and thrilling way. I believe it is well worth the price of Amazon Prime!
Mallory Delchamp is a writer, model, and performer living in Manhattan. You can routinely read her film and music reviews here on Pop-Break and you can also check out her work on zumic.com and nytheatreguide.com. A social media and pop culture enthusiast, Mallory also enjoys musical theatre, superhero films, and drinking coffee. You can visit Mallory at her website, www.mallorydelchamp.com