It’s so­ci­ety ver­sus im­mi­grants in Ama­zon’s ‘Car­ni­val Row’

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - On Tap - BY GE­ORGE DICKIE

Some­one is killing the faeries of The Bur­gue and Ry­croft Philostrat­e is de­ter­mined to put a stop to it.

As played by Or­lando Bloom (the “Pi­rates of the Caribbean” movies) in the Ama­zon fan­tasy se­ries “Car­ni­val Row,” which be­gins stream­ing Fri­day, Aug. 30, he’s a de­tec­tive in a fan­tas­ti­cal Vic­to­rian world in which hu­mans co­ex­ist un­easily with mytho­log­i­cal im­mi­grant crea­tures whose ex­otic home­lands were in­vaded by the em­pires of man. In this so­ci­ety, these winged faeries are sec­ond-class cit­i­zens, in­den­tured ser­vants for­bid­den to live, love or fly with free­dom.

One of them is Vignette Stonemoss (Cara Delev­ingne, “Pa­per Towns”), with whom the hu­man Philo had a pas­sion­ate af­fair. Think­ing he’d been killed years ear­lier, she still car­ries a torch for him but is at-first indig­nant to learn he’s still alive. Now as they rekin­dle their dan­ger­ous re­la­tion­ship, he must em­bark on his most im­por­tant case yet: to in­ves­ti­gate a string of grue­some mur­ders threat­en­ing the peace on Car­ni­val Row.

And that set­ting, a grimy, grubby city street re­sem­bling some­thing out of a Dick­ens novel and pop­u­lated by sol­diers, hawk­ers, po­lice and pros­ti­tutes, was cre­ated in Prague. Here, the at­ten­tion to de­tail is painstak­ing, which im­pressed the ac­tors and made the story come alive for them, as they told a re­cent gath­er­ing of jour­nal­ists in Bev­erly Hills, Calif.

“I hon­estly want them to make some sort of theme park,” Delev­ingne says, “or – I wanted peo­ple to come visit me all the time, be­cause just walk­ing through those sets – no mat­ter how cold it was in Prague – was the vis­ceral, you could smell and hear, and just ev­ery room and ev­ery cor­ner of ev­ery­thing had some­thing.”

“But there was the dead pig head on set,” Bloom adds, “that was stink­ing be­cause it was rot­ting. It was ac­tual dead pig heads (that had thawed out) . ... I’ve been on some amaz­ing sets over the years, and you know, ‘Lord of the Rings’ was al­ways talked about for its au­then­tic­ity. And noth­ing has re­ally come close to it since I walked down the Row.”

In this world, the “fays,” as they’re called, are im­mi­grants or refugees look­ing to set­tle into a new so­ci­ety that doesn’t read­ily ac­cept them, looks down on them and sees them as sub­hu­mans to be en­slaved. All of this can be eas­ily seen as an al­le­gory for what’s hap­pen­ing to­day, as Bloom notes.

“I think there’s so much fear in the world to­day,” the English ac­tor says, “about the idea of refugees, mi­grants com­ing into so­ci­ety. What are they go­ing to do to our so­ci­ety? How are they go­ing to take jobs, drugs, thiev­ing, what­ever the pre­con­ceived no­tion is? ... And whilst it’s a fan­tasy world and these char­ac­ters are fan­tas­ti­cal, it’s so hu­man, it’s so real, it’s so tan­gi­ble you can’t not get the mes­sage. You can’t not look at it and take some­thing away from it. And that’s the gift.”

Or­lando Bloom and Cara Delev­ingne star in “Car­ni­val Row,” pre­mier­ing Fri­day on Ama­zon.

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