A review by Martha Sigargök-Martin, 12.01.2018
Dark, created by Barna bo Odar and Jantje Friese
Starring: Louis Hofmann, Angela Winkler, Oliver Masucci, Jördis Triebel, Walter Kreye, Stephan Kampwirth, Karoline Eichhorn, Lisa Kreuzer, Antje Traue, Andreas Pietschmann, Mark Waschke
Released on the 1st of December 2017 on Netflix
First Season, Ten episodes of approximately 50 minutes
Dark is a new series on Netflix which has been produced entirely in Germany with German actors. The genre ranges from science fiction to thriller.
In the fictive town of Winden, children are disappearing one by one in a mysterious way.
The disappearance of the children provokes a chain of reaction within the community, where almost everybody turns out to be a liar. Whether it’s to hide a dark past or a double life, everybody starts to get suspicious of one another.
To these entangled relationships comes a mystery that spans three generations.
The central characters include Jonas Kahnwald, a teenager who’s just lost his father to suicide, and his mother Hannah Kahnwald; Ulrich Nielsen, a police officer whose brother disappeared 33 years earlier, and the Nielsen family, in particular his son Mikkel; Charlotte Doppler, the police chief of Winden; Helge Doppler, Charlottes father-in-law; and Regina Tiedemann, a hotel manager as well as her mother, Claudia Tiedemann, who was the director of the he nuclear plant in the 1980s.
During the first season, the secrets of the Kahnwald, Nielsen, Doppler, and Tiedemann families begin to be revealed, as well as another central and much more dramatic secret which bound every human destiny of this small town together.
The other protagonists
Except for the four families who are portrayed – The Kahnwald, the Nielsen, the Doppler and the Tiedemann – there are two more important protagonists who are central to the story: The wood and the nuclear power plant.
The nuclear power plant is part of the plot in every single episode and is surrounded by mystery, because nobody is allowed to come in – not even the police at first – except the employees. It seems that the population of Winden has been told a lie for years regarding the security of the plant. It’s particularly a big topic during the flashback in 1986 as it is the year the catastrophe of Chernobyl happened. In addition to the disappearance of the children, animals start to die without explanation around the city. Sheep fall over, birds fall from the sky.
Now, what is more German and especially Grimm Brothers-like than a dark forest hiding mystery? The fantasy of every man and woman is already here, it just needed to be nourished. You could think it’s the Black Forest but it’s not. The series was shot around Berlin – and maybe Gießen (Hesse). Nevertheless, choosing a rather dark, but slightly sharp and blue-shaded lighting for a series that takes place in and around the forest, and instinctively conjure up the fairy-tales, but turns out to be science fiction, is quite compelling and unusual.
I must confess when I put the first episode on, that I was afraid of witnessing a German version of Stranger Things until it got thankfully in another direction.
The time paradox
I love science fiction, especially when it’s about time, but God, give me time paradoxes, and I’m in Heaven. To me, there’s nothing much more fascinating that reflexions on space and time in fiction because it opens doors far beyond our perception. Even if I don’t always understand to my core what exact consequences result out of the interaction with that or that timeline – Primer, by the way, seems to have a unanimous backing concerning complicated consequences of time travel – I always enjoy the challenge very much. Time travel can be very brain-teasing and can be exploited in fiction ad infinitum.
H. G. Wells reflected on the notion of time by introducing it as the fourth dimension in his novel The Time Machine, published in 1895, ten years before Albert Einstein made the space-time a key point of his theory of relativity. Beyond evil Morlocks, sort of cannibal caricatures that represent all that is detestable in human nature, which the hero of Wells visits in the year 802 701 (just that!), the British author put his finger on a troubling aspect of existence by asking about this issue: may an object that has no duration in time, have a material existence ?
J. Richard Gott, an astrophysicist at Princeton University, wrote a book for a brighter audience on time paradoxes where he describes theoretical time travel based, among others, on the concept of a universe in four dimensions. This concept comes from a model by the physicist George Gamow (1940s). If you imagine the earth revolving around the sun, not only as an object in three dimensions but four (since otherwise, it would not even have the opportunity to move), the earth would look like a spaghetti wriggling around the sun, being itself a tube in space-time. The shape of a spaghetti or a tube representing the continuity of an object in time, the so-called world line in physics. By that, it’s meant, that you’re yourself an object in space-time as well, which has a world line from birth to death. A model of time travel based on that principle would allow you to drink a beer with a younger version of yourself, but you‘d maybe be stuck in a time loop that would be repeated ad infinitum.
— SPOILER —
Dark seems to be based on the four-dimensional concept and the so-called grandfather paradox which is entertainingly demonstrated in the Back to the Future Film Series by Robert Zemeckis. So it seems that the theory of multiple universes doesn’t apply to the timeline concept of this series. Dark is a really well made time travel series because it’s enough to tease out the curiosity but well ordered enough to allow an average audience to figure it out. If you’re more experienced in watching and reading science fiction you’ll maybe – but just maybe – expect more, but that said, it doesn’t take away the suspense or murky charm of this exceptionally well made, well played and vivid series.
All in all
To resume this short but sweet review without spoiling too much: You’ll enjoy every mimic, every sound, every take, every spoken word in this amazing series. In fact, I couldn’t get enough of it to such an extension myself, that I’ve watched every episode until four in the morning, despite having a bad cold and feeling very sleepy.
It’s only the end of the first season and a second one has been announced by Netflix just after 20 days of broadcasting. Well done Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese and thank you for raising that standard, that has been crawling on the ground for far too long!
To dive further into the world of time travel
Hello there, I'm Martha, a tenacious optimist, multi passionated human being obsessed with improvement and breakthroughs. I'm a pain in the ass when it comes to accepting status quo and I love inspiring films and books because they go to the depth of our feelings, have the power to change perspective and sometimes to heal.
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