When it comes to speculative fiction (as opposed to hardboiled sci-fi) the name of Philip K. Dick (https://goo.gl/2b6PxD) stands heads and shoulders above the rest. And when it comes to speculative fiction adaptations from book to celluloid Ridley Scott (https://goo.gl/sXyBeU) also deserves a special place.
The Man in the High Castle is an Amazon production (https://goo.gl/y2Gq1p) based on the Philip K. Dick novel which inspiringly brings Dick’s imagination and Scott’s attention to detail as executive producer. On the strength of that alone you’d expect production values and execution to be nothing less than exceptional and, indeed, the series does not disappoint.
Amazon has, here. Taken a leaf out of Netflix’s book, casting stars that are relatively unknown and focusing on an intelligent script that delivers a punch and, with it, they have added to the mounting pressure Hollywood studios face, to change.
When alternative studios, like Amazon’s (and Netflix) can bring together great scripts and talent for a ready-made audience, at a lower budget, they make Hollywood’s film machine that’s still stuck in the 20th century groove of producing mindless, special effects-laden blockbusters or smaller, limited distribution arthouse films seem arcane and ripe for a shakeup.
That shakeup is definitely coming. In the meantime the question here is, should you spend time watching The Man in the High Castle ? The answer is a resounding yes. Binge-watch it if you must. Bear in mind it’s a film-within-a-film format, just like Dick’s book was a novel-within-a-novel, which means it appears disjointed at first, until you have enough pieces together to begin to make sense of it all.
The I-Ching (https://goo.gl/2YgML5) features heavily in it, though its role is not explained at first. Philip K. Dick novels are deceptively easy to read and difficult to unpack which usually means that when they are translated to screen the filmmakers either produce at least two versions (as it happened with Blade Runner (https://goo.gl/AL5btT) where Ridley Scott, then as director, felt obliged to release a Director’s Cut to do the film he shot justice) or are heavily oversimplified (which is what happened with Total Recall - the 1990 version (https://goo.gl/s4rBCK), not the 2012 unmemorable remake).
Their titles are also changed. Dick’s original Blade Runner title was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (https://goo.gl/fowcfI) and his Total Recall one was We Can Remember it for you Wholesale. (https://goo.gl/zyRBtX). The Amazon production avoids both pitfalls, preserving the book’s original title in the film name and sticking very, very closely to its concept in execution trusting the audience to be intelligent enough to put things together. And that is exactly what makes it work. Sumptuously shot, with great style, it manages to captivate enough to warrant more than one binge-watching session.