Controversial source material
The Man in the High Castle is not only a dramatic series produced by the streaming platform Amazon Prime but also a controversial novel by Philip K. Dick, an author whose works have inspired films such as Blade Runner and A Scanner Darkly.
The original literary work has many devoted fans, but there are also readers who criticize the novel for excessive philosophizing and an open ending.
Therefore, the first information about the creation of the series did not arouse enthusiasm even among the biggest fans of the book. After all, it is a challenging literary work that does not lend itself easily to adaptation.
Fortunately, the creators of the series decided to take a slightly different approach, borrowing only a few characters, the basic storyline, and most importantly, the brilliantly conceived world from the book.
They invented many things on their own, and they did well. As a result, a series emerged that has something to offer even to people who have never heard of the original work.
The world as the main character
If The Man in the High Castle truly excels in anything, it is the world it presents to the viewers. In this world, the Germans managed to drive the Soviets behind the Ural Mountains, repel the invasion of Normandy, and successfully invade the eastern part of the United States.
The Japanese did not lag behind their Nazi counterparts in any way, adding the entire western coast of the former United States to their Asian territories.
What remained of the United States was a powerless remnant in the middle of the continent, forming a fragile border between the two superpowers.
As the series' storyline deals with events in both the German and Japanese parts of the former United States, viewers have the opportunity to compare these two worlds firsthand.
While the areas under German influence are characterized by a somewhat unsurprising omnipresent order and technological development, the Japanese territories on the American continent appear to be much less maintained.
A perfectly crafted story
The story revolves around mysterious recordings that depict the fall of the Third Reich, which never happened in this alternate reality.
However, the films appear too realistic and costly to be mere forgeries. That's why the SS, led by the demonic John Smith, brilliantly portrayed by Rufus Sewell, are so keen on getting their hands on them.
But Juliana, the series' titular heroine, who initially seeks her sister, allegedly involved with the rebels fighting against Japanese domination, comes across the recordings first.
She is joined by Joe from a resistance group based in New York, who becomes involved with Juliana due to circumstances, and together they will try to uncover the origin of the mysterious recordings.
The series does not boast a fast pace, but that is not a bad thing. At least the viewer has the opportunity to soak up the unique atmosphere of the alternate 1960s USA under Nazi or Japanese rule.
The plot unfolds slowly, but it is so interesting that the viewer can forgive a few dull moments. Technically, the series is definitely above average, and the same can be said for the actors.
However, the real standout is the aforementioned Rufus Sewell, who must have truly enjoyed his role as the high-ranking American Nazi officer.