Based on Philip K. Dick's award-winning novel, and executive produced by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner), and Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files), The Man in the High Castle explores what it would be like if the Allied Powers had lost WWII, and Japan and Germany ruled the United States. Starring Rufus Sewell (John Adams), Luke Kleintank (Pretty Little Liars), and Alexa Davalos (Mob City).
It's 1962, America has lost WWII; the east is the Greater Nazi Reich and the west, the Japanese Pacific States. Amidst this oppression there is new hope - films that seem to show a different world. When her sister gives her a film and is then murdered, a woman comes to believe the films hold the key to freedom and becomes obsessed with finding their mysterious guardian, The Man in the High Castle.
Frank's fate hangs in the balance as he is held captive by the Kempeitai. Meanwhile, Juliana makes contact with a mysterious man who gives her a clue about the films, and Obergruppenführer Smith is surprised by an unfortunate turn of events.
Joe and Juliana must act quickly as a vicious bounty hunter known as The Marshal arrives in Canon City. Tagomi makes plans with Wegener to pass valuable secrets from the Reich, and Frank plots his revenge against the Japanese.
Joe is increasingly torn between duty and his growing feelings for Juliana. While Ed tries to stop Frank from making an irrevocable decision, Smith's investigation is interrupted when he has trouble with his witness, and Tagomi's plan goes awry as events take a dramatic turn at the Crown Prince's speech.
Juliana returns home, only to discover new clues that lead her closer to unravelling the mystery behind the films. Meanwhile, Joe faces a tough debriefing upon his return home. Kido begins his investigation into the events surrounding the Crown Prince's Speech, while Tagomi and Wegener make a last-ditch attempt to complete their mission.
Juliana and Frank make plans to escape the Pacific States, only to be dragged back into danger by Joe as he tries to retrieve a new film. Meanwhile, Smith's loyalty is put to the ultimate test when confronted with a startling family discovery.
With time running out, a desperate Frank is forced to put his life on the line to help Joe. The pieces finally fall into place for Smith as he uncovers who was behind the assassination attempt. Tagomi is devastated when he's confronted with the consequences of his scheming, and Kido's investigation takes a dramatic turn when he makes an important discovery.
As revelations abound, Juliana is forced to make the hardest decision of her life. Wegener returns to Germany to carry out his mission. Smith risks becoming the prey as he goes hunting with his assassin, and Kido desperately tries to close his investigation before his time runs out.
Bonus: The Man in the High Castle - Resistance Radio Music Video
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March 9, 2017
17 years after America lost WW2, the country is divided and controlled by Japan and Germany. But the airwaves can’t be silenced. From out of the lawless neutral zone comes Resistance Radio, a secret network of pirate DJs broadcasting sounds of hope that keep the memory of a former America alive. Watch the Resistance Radio music video featuring Sam Cohen’s “Housing of the Rising Sun.”
Bonus: The Man in the High Castle - What If? - Behind the Scenes
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October 16, 2015
Go inside the making of one of the most ambitious shows ever in the Amazon Original Series, The Man In The High Castle. See how the cast and crew create a world that shows us what America would look like if it lost World War 2.
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Reviewed in the United States on February 16, 2016
You probably have already heard the basic buzz around this show but the premise is this: That WWI was won by the Axis powers when the Germans developed the Atom bomb first, dropping it on Washington DC, which naturally obliterated all central government along with most of the military structure. Of course, most the armed command WAS in fact in Europe (England) at the time, and it begs the question of whether Ike and Gen. Patton would just fold up. Probably, if it were made clear that NYC and a few other big cities were next if we didn't surrender. The US is then divided up basically as everything west of the Rockies is Japanese, and everything East is German. There is some resistance still happening, but it definitely underground, and not active in large scale. One can rightly assume that any energetic or talented military units in Europe at the time were neutralized one way or the other.
In any case, regardless of whether or not any such thing WOULD have been feasible, that is the premise and it certainly doesn't seem impossible when one looks at the ups and downs of history. What makes it so great is that the Production values of the series is way up there with the very best period piece cinema I've ever seen. The amount of detail has clearly been thought out to the nth degree, which seeing how as Ridley Scott is the executive producer, this is not surprising. Amazon must have spent an insane amount of money even in terms of location scouting to bring this thing to life.
The viewer is dropped right into the action immediately in the first episode, and they do not spoon feed you all the Hows, Whats and Whys of the storyline. There is a mystery that is revealed early on and it motivates all the central characters, both the reluctant heroes, the on-the-fence people just trying to get by, and the dedicated villains too. Speaking of which, the series wisely does not allow the "bad guys" to devolve into mere caricatures, though on occasion the line is pushed. The show also do not go too heavy-handed with Japanese/Nazi iconography. No question that things are fundamentally different in this reality, and the cultural aspects of the two countries on their American territories play out in ways both large and also subtle. However, many aspects are probably not much different than being a conservative 1950s, though it's also clear that the US doesn't quite have the booming economy it did in history
They have a great cast throughout, most importantly with Alexa Davalos as Juliana Crain, who is probably the most sympathetic of all the various personalities. But really, the whole cast gets some very meaty roles to work with and all come through. This especially is the case with some of the well-known Japanese actors (like Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) brought in to fill out some of the key roles of the Pacific States.
Future Seasons have plenty to work with and I for one can't wait to see them. Unaddressed areas that seem oddly absent are: Britain's role in the world, nor USSR or China's, both the arch enemies of Japan and Germany. One assumes that maybe once the A-Bomb was used on DC, London and Moscow were probably next in very short order. Still, I am hoping that some expansion of the world is dealt with over time.
Reviewed in the United States on December 25, 2015
I'm not exaggerating my headline. This series is absolutely outstanding and one I could not stop binge watching.
Instead of reviewing the series I'll talk a bit about my series show preferences. I am a long time walking dead fan, breaking bad, grey anatomy, Vikings, the 100, defiance, American horror story, and the list goes on. I don't prefer one genre or time setting or plot over the other; I simply enjoy well made series. I don't even take a particular interest in post apoctoliptic plots, historical twist, love drama, midevil, or the countless others; as long as the acting is excellent and plot is captivating.
First a disclaimer: I have not read the Phillip K. Dick novel so this review is based solely on the ten-episode Season One of HIGH CASTLE. What I liked: beautiful photography though the early episodes stressed a dark mood where even in daylight there was little sun. The acting was the strongest point and I was surprised to learn that some of the "American" actors are in fact British. Some complained that the pacing was boring but I disagree. The pacing was deliberate and a relief from the technique where the editing requires a change of shot every five seconds. This frantic editing suggests to me that the filmmakers believe the viewers have an attention spam of a five year-old so if they don't keep things hopping constantly they will lose their audience. So my wife and I watched all ten episodes mainly thanks to these qualities.
Now what I disliked: though the novel may clarify some story points, a film adaptation should stand on its own without the need for viewers to reference the novel to find out what's going on. I can accept the premise of the Axis Powers winning WWII for storytelling purpose, but we are left on our own to figure out how. In passing we hear that the atomic bomb was dropped on Washington, D.C. and that FDR was assassinated. I am willing to "suspend my disbelief" in the cause of fiction but the Germans were never at a point where such things were even on the drawing boards. It is well established that Hitler had no trans-oceanic ambitions, i.e., invading America, during his lifetime. But OK, I will happily suspend my disbelief for entertainment's sake. All I ask is that the tale proceed logically. It is this failure in logical storytelling that is HIGH CASTLE's biggest failure and the reason why I give it two stars.
When an author needs to get his characters from one situation into another but doesn't know how to make this transition logically, he cheats. In other words, he just does it and leaves it to the reader or viewer to figure out how it happened. Without giving away any story points, I will just say that HIGH CASTLE has several such "cheats" and none worse than in the final scenes of episode 10. We see what happens but we don't know how or why it happens. Come on producers, you want us to watch and to suspend our disbelief. OK, fair enough. But don't insult your viewers by cheating in your storytelling because you can't figure out how to transition your characters to where you need them to be. I hesitate to spen dtime watching Season Two, if there is a Season Two.