This Eerie New Netflix Series From the Creators of ‘Dark’ Will Be Your Next Obsession
The creators behind Netflix’s hit sci-fi saga Dark, Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar, are back with a new show to thoroughly unsettle and captivate us. I can’t stop watching the strange, gorgeous, and all-too-spooky trailer for 1899, which is set to hit Netflix in November 2022. Friese and Odar have brought the same sense of lingering dread and all-encompassing mystery that defined Dark to the upcoming supernatural series—and then they appear to have turned the volume up past eleven. 1899 looks lushly period-perfect, and also like a jarring and beautiful puzzle box of a show.
1899‘s official Netflix synopsis reads, “When mysterious events change the course of an immigrant ship headed for New York in 1899, a mind-bending riddle unfolds for its bewildered passengers.” Per Wikipedia, we can add some more plot details to the plight of that New York-bound ship: “…when they encounter another migrant ship adrift on the open sea, their journey begins to turn into a nightmare.” Wikipedia also brands the series “epic period mystery-horror,” and now you’re speaking my language. I’m getting vibes of the Victorian nautical monster show The Terror intermingled with shades of Lost and even future-set science fiction like The Expanse, which kicks off with the exploration of a dangerous ghost spaceship. Will I ever tire of the “this forboding-looking vessel is mysteriously abandoned, let’s explore it” trope in any genre? No, no I will not.
Do I have any idea what’s really happening here? No. Are any of us likely going to be able to guess until, say, the final season? Also no. Did this trailer frighten as much as intrigue me? Yes. Is 1899 going straight to the top of my must-watch list? Absolutely yes. This narrative seems to be combining two of my favorite things—historical fiction and science fiction—so I have to assume it’s being made for a viewing audience like me in mind. And if I got through The Terror, I think I can do the scares here as well, although my hand might be in front of my eyes for much of it (with 1899, however, the music and sounds alone are already chilling, so there may not be an escape). There’s also a distinctly European feel to 1899, and there will be a fascinating mix of languages throughout. As Friese told Deadline Hollywood:
The whole European angle was very important for us, not only story wise but also the way we were going to produce it. It really had to be a European collaboration, not just cast but also crew. We felt that with the past years of Europe being on the decline, we wanted to give a counterpoint to Brexit, and to nationalism rising in different countries, to go back to that idea of Europe and Europeans working and creating together. Being true to the cultures and the languages was really important, we never wanted to have characters from different countries but everyone speaks English. We wanted to explore this heart of Europe, where everyone comes from somewhere else and speaks a different language, and language defines so much of your culture and your behaviour.
When I wrote about how Dark was one of the best science fiction shows I’ve watched in a long time but I just couldn’t finish it, the article garnered an impassioned response. I heard from many readers, with several taking the time to explain via email all the reasons why I needed to finish the show. (I will indeed finish the show—I’m convinced.) It’s clear that Friese and Odar’s work has sparked a dedicated fanbase, and it’s no wonder that Netflix would give them free rein to let their imaginations run wild with 1899. The pair have an overall deal at Netflix which continues to bear fruit, and 1899 is their most ambitious production to date. The series even built the largest virtual production stage in Europe in order to film during the pandemic.
If you’re wondering why one of the dashing, bearded actors in the 1899 trailer looks familiar, it’s because Andreas Pietschmann played The Stranger on Dark. English actress Emily Beecham (Into the Badlands) has been cast in the lead role of Maura Franklin, and she heads up an impressive international cast. We know very few details beyond the synopsis we’ve been given, but the show had a two-episode premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, where the audience seemed thrilled. TIFF’s Primetime Director Geoff Macnaughton predicted 1899 will be “a nightmarish obsession for both fans and critics alike,” with the potential to be both water-cooler ready and critically acclaimed. Fingers crossed.
1899 drops its first episode on Netflix on November 17, 2022, and is set for an eight-episode first season. Will you be watching?
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