Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans

1899 ***


Starring Emily Beecham, Andreas Pietschmann, Aneurin Barnard.
Mystery, certificate 18.

Streaming on Netflix.



Expectations were high for 1899, the new series from DARK creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese. Although it never gained the widespread attention or popularity of STRANGER THINGS, the cult audience they gained with their three-season intergenerational, multi-dimensional time travel saga counts it as one of the best series that Netflix has yet produced. The news of a follow up period piece set around a missing cruise ship was met by fans with excitement as they wondered just what they had in store with such an intriguing premise


1899 is the year in which we find ourselves aboard the cruise liner Kerberos, currently on voyage to America. Among the many passengers is Maura Franklin, a doctor keeping to herself who has another reason for being on the ship, something perhaps to do with the flashback that introduces her being dragged away in what looks like an asylum while loudly declaring she is not crazy. She also seems to have a special interest in the Prometheus, another cruise ship that has been missing for four months. Eyk, captain of the Kerberos, also has his own shadowy past to contend with and when he picks up what appears to be a signal from the Prometheus, he risks the wrath of his crew and the hundreds of passengers when he decides to go off course to investigate the missing ship. What he discovers, along with Maura, is a deserted ship that appears to have been missing for years and with only one survivor, a young mute boy carrying a small black pyramidical object.


Every other passenger we follow aboard the Kerberos seems to have a mysterious past from which they are running, including a Spanish priest and his extrovert brother, a Norwegian family in the lower decks with a facially scarred son and his pregnant sister and a Japanese geisha in the employ of a fierce English madam and a mysterious stranger who sneaks aboard after the discovery of the Prometheus. How they all fit together within the larger mystery that unfolds and deepens with each of the eight episodes stringing the viewer along.


On a technical level 1899 is deeply impressive. Filmed during the pandemic with a large international cast and crew entirely on a vast soundstage utilising Volume technology it brings the setting of the ship(s) and other locations to utterly convincing effect with all its period detail. The story zips along, each episode ending with a cliff hanger that adds further to the many mysteries already taking place but as it does so there is a nagging sense of knowing where all this is leading to, hoping that the how and the why of it all will pay off in a rewarding fashion. Sadly, it does not quite pay off in the satisfying and exciting ways that the creators did so before as they did with each season of DARK.


There is still much to enjoy here, and the ending sets up an intriguing direction for the second season, that is if there is a second season which is no guarantee when it comes to the increasingly fickle Netflix. At the same time, it sets up a sense of weariness that we may just be in for more of the same running around a mysterious location uncovering even more dark secrets. Hopefully next time around Odar and Friese will prove us all wrong in the unexpected ways that they have already proved that they are more than capable of.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans