Does the long-awaited series 1899 live up to its hype?
Showrunners Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar are back after their smash hit Dark — here's our review of the new Netflix series 1899.
The series 1899 is set in 1899 aboard a passenger liner bound from London to New York. In the middle of the Atlantic, a distress signal is identified from the previously lost sister ship — and the captain then quickly decides to try to rescue the crew and passengers of the lost ship.
However, the passengers aboard the ship have no desire to veer off course to rescue other passengers, as it soon becomes apparent that they are all hiding secrets - each one darker than the last. Should they risk their secrets being exposed if the route becomes a rescue mission?
I'm going to be clear: there's no doubt that Project 1899 is very ambitious, with many different ethnic groups speaking their respective native languages. We hear Italian, Danish, Japanese, and German to name a few, and it's an impressive detail that enriches the series, to begin with.
The 1899 ensemble with series creators Jantje Friese and Baran Bo Odar.
Towards the end, however, this ensemble range also becomes one of the show's weaknesses, as the showrunners repeatedly spin the same concept where characters understand each other on a deeper level despite hefty language barriers. It was engaging at first, but unfortunately only gets weirder the more times it's shown.
The idea of a large ensemble of characters who all have murky pasts brings to mind Lost; it's exciting to see the backstory of the various characters and their different origins. However, it's not explored enough to be truly rewarding in the end.
Since Dark is one of the best shows we've seen, I naturally had pretty high expectations for their new project. And sure enough, I think it delivers in a way; it's very atmospheric, considerably ambitious, and far better than many other new shows right now.
It suffers from the usual Netflix syndrome of dragging series out far too long — 1899 could easily be two episodes shorter and have a faster pace. Everyone but Netflix would have benefited from that.
At the end of the day, it doesn't have much to say, isn't very exciting or scary and, as I said, it's far too slow for the story it wants to tell.
Netflix recently announced that they are canceling the show after the first season. It was too expensive to shoot and wasn't quite the success Netflix had hoped for. Although I didn't think the first season was great — as you can tell by my review — I'm still a little disappointed; I would have liked to see more of this to see where the story had taken us in the coming seasons.
The series Dark is recommended for anyone interested in 1899.
To anyone who enjoyed 1899, or who is curious about the series, I recommend that you watch the showrunner's previous show, also featured on Netflix; Dark — a mind-bending show about time travel that is easily among the coolest things I've seen.
- Impressive cinematography
- Exciting mystery
- 1899 is too slow
- Underwhelming conclusion
1899 gets the score 6 out of 10.
This article is about
- Directed by: Baran bo Odar
- Main cast: Louis Hofmann, Maja Schöne, Oliver Masucci, Karoline Eichhorn, Andreas Pietschmann
- Music: Ben Frost
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