Wow. One week without sports. We’re mostly all working remotely at home, or have unfortunately lost jobs. Toilet Paper stocks skyrocket and supply diminishes.
The sweet sound of forced self-entertainment and enrichment. Social distancing is, thankfully, on the rise and more of us are forced with the realities of cabin fever than ever before. Luckily (?) here at Viva the Matadors we’re putting our home assignment to the test and binging shows to provide you with a good sign post on what TO and what NOT TO watch during this COVID-19 season.
Dark, a Netflix Original
Die erste deutsche sprache- oh, sorry, the first german-language Netflix original to be exact. Look NO further if you want the most active series experience you have ever participated in; that means no Netflix & Chill here. If that puts you off, or if leaving it in the original German language with subtitles puts you off then walk away from this show right now.
Still here? Das ist gut! Dark is a beautifully twisted series that refuses to let you guess what’s going on and continually has you verbally saying “wait, what!” It’s closest kin in regards to series is Stranger Things... if the monster in Stranger things was just people and the only English line is an disturbingly recited “my only aim is to take many lives. The more the better I feel.”
In the fictional town (probably more like a village) of Winden, Germany, two children go missing and set off an exasperated timeline of events which ties back to the same town in 1986. As in all small towns, the close network of community is put to the test as affair, mystery, and deceit continually undermine efforts to solve an increasingly complex puzzle. Four estranged families mark the start and the end of a time travel conspiracy spanning three generations - whether they know it or not.
Dark blends a variety of genres together and excels at every single one of them. There’s continual tones of murder mystery, dark crime drama, sci-fi, and a surprisingly in-depth lore of fantasy. It’s not the kind of fantasy that makes you feel disconnected, however, like Stranger Things. The security of “ah impossible,” is lost in Winden. The depth of scientific theory and religious texts gravely support what’s happening. It is both extraordinary enough to be overtly exciting at every turn and yet presented in way that keeps you believing that it is entirely feasible.
Acting. Acting. Acting. Dark spared no expense it seems when it comes to its performers; from the very old to the very young everybody shows excellence in their parts and it’s not something that should ever be taken for granted. Likewise the soundtrack, produced by Ben Frost, is a masterpiece. Think... Inception, Shutter Island, and Dunkirk. All musical scores produced for one purpose: creation of emotion. It’s a collection of violin, trumpet, ticking, and (well I’m not rightly sure!) to lead your mind into a state of angst. Similar to how horror movies have pinned down the underlying sound effects that send our brains into a state of unease and defense, Dark puts you in a light comatose of confusion while it unfolds an increasingly intricate flower petal by petal. Brilliant!
I realize now that I can’t quite say what I think the bad is without a major spoiler. BUT! Like the show, I’m just going to say something now and after you watch it you’ll come back here and think... ah, yeah I agree with that. Or you might not. I don’t know the future (wink). My biggest gripe with Dark is people’s naivete to things that are happening around them. I mean the show takes place in 2019 for Pete’s sake. We have had plenty of time, culturally, to see just about every feasible possibility from movies alone - how could we be truly shocked by anything anymore?!
“Oh my God, this is happening and I was told this was going to happen and probably have seen a hundred movies that explore what I’m living through but I’m going to pretend I have no clue as how to act or what to do next aaaaaahhhhhhhh!”
Give me a break.
There’s a moment in the first episode where the father and his son are at the dining table. Mikkel, the son, loves magic tricks and shows his father, Ulrich, one before he goes to school. With a slight of hand Mikkel impresses Ulrich and, like most of us, Ulrich says “how did you do that?” Mikkel replies with “Dad, the question isn’t how, the question is when.”
This is 100% a show for viewers who like to be challenged to think and those that love to come away after every episode with more questions than answers. I can say for certain that Dark is also a show that holds great re-watch value, as you will most certainly notice things you didn’t catch the first time around and connect a lot more dots that you perhaps didn’t originally, the attention to detail is astonishing absolutely everywhere here - visually, musically, thematically and theoretically, the rabbit holes are ever expanding. It’s exploration of the existential implications of time and its effects upon human nature are so masterfully produced that giving it anything lower than an A+ would be inadequate.