1899: Enigmatic Netflix Series, Shaun D’souza, St. Catherine’s College

In November 2022, Netflix released a new mystery thriller series: 1899. It follows a group of European immigrants who travel to New York on the mysterious ship Kerberos. The show overtook The Crown and placed it in the top ten TV series in the UK. How exactly did they manage to pull this off?

The premise of the show revolves around the passengers of the Kerberos discovering the secrets of the ship. As the show progresses, we learn that the lower class are forbidden to interact with the upper class and are imprisoned at a lower level. As their world falls apart, the characters must learn to transcend class differences and work together despite the barrier created by their prejudices. Another obstacle is that the members of the ship are limited in terms of language, since the characters are from different parts of the world and speak in their native language. The actors speak a total of nine languages, including German, Danish, French and Cantonese.

With a wide variety of languages, a diverse cast was essential to accurately represent the ship’s many cultures. During an interview with Deadline Hollywood, Jantje Friese (one of the creators) stated, “It was really important to stay true to cultures and languages… Language defines so much of your culture and behavior.” Due to the impact of COVID restrictions, it was however difficult to fulfill their hope of a multinational occupation. To overcome this, they held the casting auditions on Zoom. Filming was even more difficult – quarantine meant that two days of shooting would end up taking the crew about 3 weeks. It was important to be able to overcome the restrictions of COVID. Because the series wanted to demonstrate the value of collaboration that extends beyond the constraints of clashing cultural views. Despite all these social, cultural, and verbal limitations, those aboard the Kerberos must work to unravel the mysteries behind the ship.

The story also focuses on philosophical ideas and concepts such as Plato’s allegory of the cave and what reality really is. The show explored these terms through recurring symbols such as triangles and flashbacks, allowing viewers to have their own interpretation and solve the mystery on their own. The characters are also morally complicated, furthering the idea that there is no such thing as a “perfect” hero to save the day. A key aspect is the passengers’ confrontation with their past in order to confront their mistakes and wrongdoings. There’s a consistent theme of accepting her past but also growing from it.

These unique perspectives make the show a must-see for anyone interested in sci-fi, historical drama, and light horror. It takes us on an emotional journey with these characters as we learn about their backstories and current realities. It has unpredictable plot twists and, in my opinion, a satisfying but intriguing conclusion to the first season that leaves audiences excited for a second season.

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Fry Electronics Team

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