1899 Season One
The Voyage Of The Brain Shredder
UK/US Netflix, streaming now Showrunners Jantje Friese, Baran bo
Cast Emily Beecham, Andreas
Pietschmann, Aneurin Barnard, Isabella Wei
EPISODES 1.01-1.06 Set in 1889, on a cruise ship full of migrants running from their pasts, travelling from Europe to America… No, hang on.
This is the new series from the writer/director team that gave us the brain-befuddling sci-fi noir Dark, so it shouldn’t surprise you that no part of that opening statement is necessarily true. And that’s not really a spoiler, because if you’re part of the target audience for this show, you’ll presumably be picking up the clues that all is not what it seems from the opening scene.
A little bit Lost, a little bit The Matrix, a little bit Doctor Who, a little bit Sucker Punch, a little bit Shutter Island, 1899 starts out as a supernatural thriller and then turns into a bigger puzzle than even the twisty-turny time travel shenanigans of Dark, engaging in some big existential questions.
Elegant and atmospheric, with an opulent production design that drips with signs and symbols, its slow-burn pace is punctuated by WTF revelations that keep drawing you in. And every time you think you’ve worked out which well-worn horror/sci-fi clichéd denouement it’s heading for, it changes direction.
The international cast is very impressive, and the series is best watched with subtitles, with all the characters speaking in their native languages (rather than the dubbed English version), because the difficulties of communication and understanding are a key theme here. The soundtrack adds to the exquisite weirdness, both through the choice of classic pop songs that play over the climactic events of each episode and Ben Frost’s quirky, discordant score.
Don’t expect to get all the answers. Do expect a second season. And a whole lot more questions...
1899’s vast Volume stage was built at Babelsberg Studios near Berlin, where Fritz Lang’s Metropolis was filmed.
Elegant and atmospheric, with an opulent production design