“1899” – the Netflix mystery that became a worthy successor to Dark

Although Jantje Frize and Baran bo Odar are not the most famous names when it comes to the entertainment industry, they carry with them an incredible stamp of quality that is capable of making many sit in front of the screens – “From the creators of Dark” .

Netflix’s cult German series about time travel and complex physics theories has earned critical acclaim and the love of millions of fans over the years. And now the duo behind its creation presents viewers with a new show – “1899”.

However, does this new series deserve all the hype that has come around it as a successor to Dark? This, like the show itself, is a question with a multi-layered answer.

The story in “1899” revolves around the passengers of the steamer “Kerberos”, traveling in the gloomy October of 1899 from London to New York, who on their journey come across a signal from another steamer – “Prometheus” lost at sea before four months.

Photo: Netflix

Only one 10-year-old boy was found on board the missing sea vessel (locked in a cupboard in one of the ship’s halls), and soon after strange things began to happen to some of the passengers – some began to have visions in their dreams, and others – to die under extremely strange circumstances.

Thus, the question arises for the Kerberos passengers as to whether the steamer Prometheus was actually cursed. And isn’t the little boy the reason bad things start happening to them too? Or isn’t there actually something completely, completely different going on that no one even suspects?

At its heart, 1899 is a slow-burning, ever-twisting mystery that keeps you wondering, guessing, and doubting.

From its very first frames, this series says it will explore the depths of the human mind, deeper than both the sky above us and the great ocean.

Unlike Dark, where the action jumps between the different timelines between which the characters travel, here the viewer, along with the main characters, is left to question reality – how much of what is happening is real and how these characters end up in the places of their biggest traumas?

Emily Beachum as Maura Franklin - the lead protagonist in "1899"Photo: Netflix

Emily Beachum as Maura Franklin – the lead protagonist in “1899”

In the center of the story is the young British doctor Maura Franklin (played by Emily Beecham – The Pursuit of Love), who travels to New York because of a mysterious message left by her brother Kieran.

In one of the very first scenes, we see her waking up from an extremely realistic nightmare, placing her as a patient in a mental health clinic, where sadistic orderlies strap her into a chair and give her a big, nasty-looking injection. And after he wakes up, the hand marks from the straps are still there.

It is through Moura’s point of view that viewers perceive much of the story, with her attempts to understand what is going on around her – both with the mysterious steamer Prometheus and her own steamer afterwards – driving the action.

Outside of her, another leading character is the captain of the ship – Eik Larsen. In the role, we see the familiar face of Andreas Pichmann from Dark, who here plays a dark, beleaguered man who is ready to do anything to find out what is happening on his ship, especially when heavy memories of his past are involved.

Outside of them, the two characters in the series offer two more diametrically opposed brothers from Spain – a priest and a playboy; a geisha and her maid; a poor but very religious family with three children from Germany; newlyweds from France, on their honeymoon, who are apparently already in dire straits; as well as two workers on the ship whose place does not seem to be there.

As well as a mysterious man who seems to know the secrets of not only Kerberos, but also Prometheus.

Photo: Netflix

More curiously, if one watches the show with the original audio, it provides a rather interesting mix of different languages ​​spoken by the characters. Although the dialogue is mainly in English, conversations between individual passengers often take place in their native language.

In this case, for some it may come as something of an annoyance, but for others it may just add more nuance when it comes to conveying their emotions.

And there are plenty of them, because for the most part these characters have something to run from and something to hide from, and these small mysteries gradually unravel with the larger one, presenting a larger and more complex picture of the action.

A steamboat trip that turns into a nightmare

And it can be quite confusing at times. In “1899” the mystery doesn’t just unravel – there every new discovery leads to even more riddles and questions – something that can be a little unnerving for the viewer if the very atmosphere of the series is not to their liking.

The slow progression of events is underpinned by an overall sense of darkness, which is layered in every possible way – from the color schemes, to the weather outside (constantly gloomy), to the music used in the background, which can quite easily give you the chills. .

To be honest, Dark, which as an atmosphere manages to put quite dark feelings, compared to “1899” can feel like something cheerful. The new series by Jantje Frize and Baran bo Odar manages to gather around itself many sensations typical of the horror genre, just without the scary part.

In fact, the show itself takes a lot of elements from horror, but manages to give them a specific flavor – not fear, but a slowly stretching tension. It’s as if if the characters don’t solve the mystery surrounding them in time, everything will break and drag them to the bottom.

Andreas Piechmann as Captain Eik Larsen.  And the look on his face shows exactly the sense of tension we're talking about here.Photo: Netflix

Andreas Piechmann as Captain Eik Larsen. And the look on his face shows exactly the sense of tension we’re talking about here.

The music selection is also worth noting – cult tracks from the 60s and 70s like Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit, Deep Purple’s Child in Time and Jimi Hendrix’s All Along the Watchtower, which somehow fit really well with the overall picture that the series creates.

Typical of Friese and Bo Odard, this is just one piece of the whole puzzle, where the series is built from many small but meaningful elements. And here, as in Dark, we have a stylized, constantly recurring symbol in various places, tangled and hidden relationships between the characters, as well as a complex philosophical idea to tie everything together.

From the names the show uses to the small details of the set – the viewer can find in everything hidden meanings left by the showrunners. But that’s part of the charm of “1899.”

The Netflix series DARK combines a mixed cast of mature and younger actors, much like Stranger Things, adds a bit of a Twin Peaks vibe, and tops it all off with quite a bit of German coldness.

And no one expected anything less from the “heir to Dark”.

Certainly, the new series will not appeal to all Dark fans. Again – it’s darker, at times more obscure and more convoluted, the action is slower and it takes almost a whole season to “pay off” all the waiting with some clarity. Before finally everything is turned upside down again.

But still, this series is worth watching, especially if Dark made you fall in love before, or if you were a fan of Lost years ago.

A good, complex and multi-layered system is simply something that should be given a chance.


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