The Man in the High Castle

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It’s my “fourth” birthday on WordPress; I figured I ought to commemorate it.

I’ve been busy studying theology, brushing up on psychology, delving into the philosophies of the great humanists of the 1500s, doing extensive reading on the history and politics of the period, and writing endlessly about it, which means I’m not sure what to do with this space. It occurred to me that I could redefine it as a history-heavy zone, with particular thoughts as to my writing process; then I thought I could define it as a philosophical zone. But I’m not entirely sure I want to sink that much energy into either one, nor do I feel entirely comfortable doing both in the same space. My life teems with many different things, but I’m not sure they all belong on one blog… where one moment I’m discussing N.T. Wright, and the next post I’m ranting about historical events. Success is generally centered around specializing on one thing at a time, and I’m not sure which one I want to succeed at.

So, in the meantime I’ll say that I was never more fortunate than when I nabbed a Roku and hooked it up to Amazon Prime. The first two episodes of The Man in the High Castle are out, and my little sci-fi/history mashup loving heart is just thrilled to pieces. The premise is “what if the Nazis had won WWII?” America is divided between Japan and Germany. Hitler is about to die, which means the Germans and the Japanese will soon be at war again over the divided US territories. And then there’s that pesky Resistance, those Americans who refuse to give in without a fight and hold onto the dream that maybe they can rescue their nation from the clutches of evil.

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There’s a lot going on in these two episodes but what struck me was the harrowing truth behind them; a society in which a few are rebellious and driven to pursue what is morally right, and a larger group that enables evil to remain in power because it is fearful of its own destruction… and finally, those who are resigned to it, and passively accept this new regime, which includes firing up those good old Nazi ovens for the infirm and fatally ill every Tuesday. The modern stomach rebels at the thought, even as our eyes bug out as we watch the Japanese calmly lock a family in a room and threaten the uncle with gassing his sister and her children if he doesn’t give them the information they want.

Beyond this, though, was the theme of HOPE… part of the plot revolves around circulating banned film reels showing the defeat of the Nazis and “what if the Americans had won the war?” The characters puzzle over why these films should be important, since they can literally do nothing against either Japan nor Germany, but what they fail to realize is that these prints instill in them that thing called ‘hope’ which has throughout the generations striven to make humans take risks in an attempt to bring about a better world. If you can strip someone of hope, you have defeated them; but so long as a spark of it burns, evil can never utterly triumph. It’s a powerful but subtle message for the current culture, which may at times think that hope is lost and that things will never improve. If we have hope, we can shift the tide and find our courage.

At the heart of it is a budding love story… and the end of the pilot episode has a twist so big it literally had me screaming at my television with admiration. I don’t know where the story is headed, if the series will remain as good as it is so far, or if it will cross some line in the future into distasteful instead of inventive, but waiting until November 20th to get more episodes is going to be difficult.

(So far, the content’s not bad, except for some strong language, including f-words, and some partial nudity in prison, along with some violence; but the camera shies away from anything too brutal. If they can just keep smut out of it, I’ll be delighted. I’m getting pretty sick of graphic sex scenes on television.)

11 Replies to “The Man in the High Castle”

  1. Let me just say that I love the change in your blog design! It’s a great match for you!

    The series intrigues me and I’ll give it a try. I know it’s likely going to be a little traumatic, but I think most people familiar with World War II history have pondered the “what if’s” of the victor. It was only a matter of time before someone made a movie or a series about it. In this case, it’s cool that it’s based off a book series, even though I’ve never read anything by Philip K. Dick.

    1. Thank you! I’m thinking I might go more history-bent in my future posts… but we’ll see. Right now I’m so crazy-busy at work that I don’t have the mental energy to think about future posts.

      YOU SHOULD WATCH IT. If only because then I’ll have someone to discuss it with! It IS traumatic, but only in the sense that it’s violent (torture for information, casual discussion of people being incinerated or gassed, etc). Apparently the book was written in the late sixties (I have a ‘sample’ on my Kindle, and am on hold for it at the library), so… he was ahead of the whole “alternate history” movement by several decades!

  2. Congrats! You’ve got a lovely blog. A lot of bloggers give up and never reach four years. I enjoy your take on culture and faith. I hope you continue to write more about this series. It looks interesting but I’m not sure if I want to take a chance on it.

    I’ve given up several popular series as many were leaning into shock violence and other things I’d rather not watch. I’m watching Hallmark, reading novels & non-fiction these days.

    1. I blog on and off, not as heavily the last year or so, but maybe I’ll find my passion for it again.

      So far there hasn’t been much shock violence, although the implications of things IS disturbing… but it’s only two episodes in, so we’ll see. I don’t mind violence if it’s for a purpose, but anything too graphic becomes tasteless if the intent is not to make a point.

  3. CONGRATS on four years, Charity. That’s awesome, friend. You always put out well thought-out and written content. Keep it up. ❤

    I've seen this show advertised on Amazon, and while I have been a tiny bit interested, I've not given it any time. I'm addicted to far too many TV shows as it is – my current obsession being Blindspot and pretty much ANYTHING the Brits (BBC, ITV) put out. 😉

  4. I’m also really enjoying this so far and am looking forward to Nov 20th. The end of the first ep also caught me offguard (even though it’s the type of thing I’d write in my own novels, I just didn’t see it coming here! Love that!) and was what hooked me on the series. Now I need to find out what happens.

    Congrats on 4 years! I love reading all the things you post, disparate subjects is fine by me. 😀

    1. I thought I might be able to cheat and read the book it’s based on before the 20th… but apparently it’s not much LIKE the book so that would get me nowhere. I’ll just have to wait in anguish until I can marathon it properly!

      1. The series is definitely unfolding very differently from the novel, but the book might give you insight into the culture the characters are living in, so to speak. Philip K. Dick’s novels had some amazing ideas but wrapped them in narratives that weren’t really everyone’s style. I did think it clever though that in the book, “The Grasshopper Lies Heavy” was a novel, but here, instead of a book within a book we get a film within a film 😉

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