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  • Writer's pictureWill Scarbrough

Review: 1899 Season 1

Follow the mysterious circumstances around the voyage of an immigrant ship from Europe to New York. The passengers, all of different backgrounds and nationalities, are united by their hopes and dreams for a new century and their future abroad. When they discover a second ship adrift on the open sea that had gone missing for months, their journey takes an unexpected turn. What they find on board will turn their passage to the promised land into a nightmare-lke riddle, connecting each of the passenger's pasts through a web of secrets.

Emily Beecham, Aneurin Barnard, Andreas Pietschmann, Miguel Bernardeau, Maciej Musiał, Anton Lesser, Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen, Rosalie Craig, Clara Rosager, Maria Erwolter, Yann Gael, Mathilde Ollivier, José Pimentão, Isabella Wei, Gabby Wong, Jonas Bloquet, Fflyn Edwards, and Alexandre Willaume.

Fans of Netflix’s ‘Dark’ have been eagerly awaiting a new show from the creators. And it is finally here. 1899 takes a while to get going, but when it does, it’s a thrill.

It goes without saying that Baran bo Odar is a master at high concept shows & ideas, along with incredibly sharp directing and mind bending writing. Most of that is present in this show, with its often thrilling direction and twists that would send audiences spiralling. However, it’s far more dull and uninteresting at times.

1899 has presented itself the task of balancing a lot of characters & ultimately trying to achieve an emotional connection between audience and character. While they achieved this well with a few characters, a lot are left much to be desired. Whether it is weak fleshing out or lack of fleshing out of character backgrounds and relationships. Some often feeling rushed between characters, where they develop deep affection towards one another. I felt rather detached to character dynamics due to its strange love stories that felt less developed than others. Despite this, I greatly appreciated the direction the series took with bringing in characters of many different nationalities onto one boat and creating this feeling of misunderstanding between characters, allowing for some deeply personal moments, despite not entirely understanding what the other is saying. Although is incredibly inconsistent with this, as characters seemingly understand other languages every now and then, which felt cheap & an easy way out.

Just as Dark, the directing and cinematography are top notch. The creators were very smart to use The Volume technology for many of its scenes & achieving it perfectly. Unlike the Book of Boba Fett, Obi Wan Kenobi and Thor: Love and Thunder, this was handled very effectively. I suppose it’s important to discuss the brilliant editing that compliments the directing in many ways, I found myself to be incredibly impressed with its fluidity and effectiveness of the editing. When dealing with such a high concept, the story could be lost and disjointed due to the editing, but that isn’t an issue here.

However, one of my biggest gripes which beat the directing down was the music by Ben Frost, whom disappointed me greatly. His original score in ‘Dark’ is some of the most impressive work I’ve seen in a tv show, I remember finishing episode 1 of Dark and blasting out the soundtrack straight after I was done. Ben’s score in this is quite poor & completely misses the mark, with 0 atmosphere the entire show through his score. It had no presence for the entire season and that surprised me. Dark had incredible atmosphere due to Ben’s music, often presenting itself as the series own ‘sound’, but in 1899, I would have much preferred no score at all. Being most atmospheric during its scenes of silence.

Hard to discuss without spoilers, but while I was let down by 1899, due to the extremely high bar set by ‘Dark’, this is far from a bad season of television. Every episode had me guessing & always had something to appreciate each episode with its filmmaking. The final scene sets up what could be a much better follow up season that I hope is handled a little better than here. More character development needed & an improvement on the score is what I seek for season 2.

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