Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if Nazis won the war? This is what Amazon’s series The Man In The High Castle explores. At the Television Critics Association summer press tour today, the showrunners and cast delved into the controversial premise and its possible impact on society.
Being such a controversial topic, it only makes sense that this show had some problems getting off the ground. When discussing the origins of the project, “when we started 8 or 9 years ago, we were unable to find an American home for it.” says EP David Zucker. Finally landing at Syfy, the network opted not to go forward with it and the project was about to die” adds series co-creator and lead writer Frank Spotnitz. As the option on the book was about to expire, they got a call from Amazon to develop the piece. With the Amazon platform, the showrunners were able to amend the original idea. ‘We originally developed it as a 4- hour… it became a much richer opportunity when Amazon decided to pilot it that we kind of unwound those episodes and then rebuilt with much broader narratives.” adds Zucker.
The show centers on Philip K. Dick’s alternative history novel in which Nazi Germany and Japan were the victors of World War II. Almost 20 years later, much of the globe has been split between the two countries. But tension is mounting for the Axis powers, and the stress is playing out in the U.S. where fascism rules and the few surviving Jews hide under assumed names.
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There were many challenges in conveying this alternative world. “Although it is set in 1962, it’s an alternative universe so this is a world where Elvis did not exist, if Elvis didn’t happened than The Beatles didn’t happened…we had to gain an understanding of popular culture in this world” said Rupert Evans. “Another hardship faced was constructing the visual representation for this new world as Frank put it, ‘we knew from the pilot on we were establishing the rules of this world… that does come down to hair styles, wardrobe, types of vehicle…what would Time Square look like if we didn’t live in a corporate capitalist society?”
The show has been well received by the public, which Spotnitz hopes will have an impact “I really hope it makes people think, what do you stand for, what are your values?” The pilot premiered in January and was the most watched original series for the streaming service. The rest of the season will be available for streaming on November 20.
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