- What Is Netflix’s 1899 About?
- What Is The Real Origin Of Netflix’s 1899?
Netflix is a streaming service totally unafraid to take risks or pay the price for them. For example, Lindsay Lohan’s latest Christmas movie was supposed to be her comeback but really failed to land with audiences. However, it’s unlikely the executives at Netflix had much worry for Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese’s latest series, 1899. After all, they were the masterminds by the wildly successful Dark. But even with the positive reviews for 1899, many fans have complained about it being confusing.
Yet, there’s clearly continued interest in the period-piece, mystery series. After all, its ratings have remained high ever since it landed itself in the Top 10 following its November 17th, 2022, release. With the success has come questions about what the show is actually based on. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, co-creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese pulled back the curtains a little…
Caution: Minor Spoilers Ahead For Netflix’s 1899
What Is Netflix’s 1899 About?
For those who don’t know, Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese’s latest series, 1899, is about a steamship of migrants leaving London, England for New York City. The ship is filled with a cast of fascinating and diverse characters who are forced into a rather sinister and mysterious situation when their ship comes across a lost vessel.
1899 is a fast-moving series with multiple languages spoken, and even more stories to be told. It’s a compelling otherworldly mystery but has caused some fans to question its real direction. According to Cosmopolitan, some Netflix viewers are totally unsure about what’s going on.
One Twitter user said, “1899 is the most confusing, epic and strangest series that I watched.” While another person said, “Ok so what is going on in 1899? Did I miss 2 hours of something or…I embrace enigmatic films/TV shows, but this is slightly confusing.”
What Is The Real Origin Of Netflix’s 1899?
During their interview with The Hollywood Reporter, 1899’s co-creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese addressed the true origin of their idea.
“The idea and the spark for it happened years ago,” Jantje Friese said to The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s been quite a process getting to here. It was originally a photo that we found. We were doing research for something completely different, I actually don’t even remember what the research was for. But we stumbled upon a picture of a man in a white shirt covered in blood, with a hammer in his hand and a really weird look on his face, standing on top of what looked like an old boat.”
He continued: “It was one of those pictures you’re drawn to, where you immediately start asking questions: What did he do with that hammer? Where does he come from? Where’s he going? What’s this all about?”
Jantje Friese went on to say that turning the boat into a migrant ship was natural as, at the time, there was a huge refugee issue in Europe.
“It was a very unstable phase. We were actually really afraid of what was going on. It felt like unified Europe was slowly breaking apart like every country was doing its own thing,” he continued. “There were lots of right-wing ideas bubbling up. Brexit happened. All this we sort of incorporated into our story.”
Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese really wanted to examine Europe and its refugee crisis by making a microcosm of it. Settling it on a boat adrift in the ocean was a thoughtful choice. After all, the characters, and the audience, can’t escape the allegory. Friese also thought the location, which was inspired by the photograph, made the story a bit of “a social experiment”.
“Almost like a laboratory experiment. How do people cope with situations when they’re not able to speak the same language? What happens when you have all these different cultural backgrounds, that are put into a space like this? That’s what triggered the process,” Friese said to The Hollywood Reporter. “Then, of course, just like in [their series] Dark, we have a big philosophical theme at the center of it all about perception and reality.”
As for why the series is set in 1899 (the end of the 19th century), co-creator Baran bo Odar said that it both played into the themes of tradition V.S. technology as well as how the migrants’ hope for a new world would soon be challenged by the terrors of the 20th century. I.E. the depression and the World Wars.
“[There was] also a lot of fear, regarding new ideas and older ideas — the old world versus the new world. Science and religion clashed a lot,” Baran bo Odar said to The Hollywood Reporter. “We’ve heard people say it’s perfect timing because the issues in 1899 are very present today. But of course, the number is also very magical: 1899. You can do a lot of things with it. One plus eight is nine. So you have 999. If you turn that upside down, it’s 666, the number of the beast, so it’s magical too.”