Friday, December 4, 2015

Which is Better? The Man in the High Castle Part 1

So after watching AKA Jessica Jones, I was excited to finally finish watching The Man in the High Castle by Amazon. I watched the first two episodes before I read the book, and I'm not sure if that tainted my experience reading the book because even though the book and the show are in the same vein, so to speak, they are very different in their approaches. What I found frustrating with the book is that even though PKD does a good job of using sci-fi to explore philosophical ponderings, there isn't a whole lot of action, and the journey means much more than the ending. I also found the book frustrating because all I wanted to do was explore the world where the Nazis and the Japanese won.

The show does that expertly. Amazon spent a whole lot of money to make it look realistic and beautiful, and they did exactly that. I also loved the interpretation of the book and the familiarity of the characters, but some breathed new life into them. I think the best way to review the show and then finally answer the question of which was better is to go by character, which I did in Anne Rice's Queen of the Damned Which is Better? review. As well, I am going to split my "Which is Better?" post into 2, to reduce the length. I am going to cover some of the main characters such as Juliana, Frank, Joe Blake, John Smith and Rudolph Wegener.

However, before I go into the characters, I would like to say that I thought it was very clever that the book, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy was turned into films. I think it would be more comprehensive and attainable for viewers to grasp than a book. However, what I also liked about the change is that they expanded the alternative universes, and even suggested it was used by Hitler to win the war. The provides a lot of questions and if there is a season 2, a lot of material to work from. However, I wonder if they'll go into the alternative timeline that was depicted in the book, where the UK is essentially the USSR and the cold war happens between the two.

Juliana Crain - In the book, Juliana and Frank are divorced, and Juliana lives in Cannon City, in the neutral territory. She's beautiful and a wanderer, and for the first part of the book, is seen through the lens of men. When PKD reveals her inner monologue, she is indecisive and searching, which gets her in trouble with Joe Cinnadella, who is revealed to be a Nazi assassin tasked to kill the man There is some sort of friction between Frank and Juliana in the book, but they never meet up. In the movie however, they are boyfriend and girlfriend, and leaves him in the dust when her sister is killed. She takes up her half-sister's mantle, and goes on a mission to deliver the film. Motivated by her sister's sacrifice, she leaves a path of destruction in her wake, which drives Frank's story. Which lead's me too...

Frank Frink - His grandfather is a Jew, which is a source of anxiety for Frank in both the book and in the movie. However, instead of opening up a jewelry store with Ed and gets in trouble for it, his story is motivated by Juliana's actions. When she leaves to deliver the film, Frank is taken into custody and is grilled by the Kempeitai about Juliana's whereabouts. They bring in Frank's sister and his niece and nephew. Motivated by the man in the cell next to him, Randall, Frank realizes that he's going to die anyway, regardless of whether he tells them. His sister and his niece and nephew is killed, but he is released after they find someone else with the film. I feel like both the book and the show Frank are just both... wet blankets. I felt like in the show the writers made the most boring decisions for him. He doesn't get on the bus, he goes and saves Joe Blake and almost too late, he runs in to save his friend Ed when he is pinned for assassinating the prince of Japan.

Juliana and Frank - After her decisions to carry out her sister's destiny, Frank's life is absolutely destroyed. I'm not quite sure why they remained together until the end. It's almost painful for them to remain together, and despite Juliana's actions directly impacting Frank negatively, he still sticks around. I wish they had done something different, or at least broke them up like they did in the book.

Joe Blake - Joe Cinnadella is a secondary character who is killed by Juliana towards the end of the book. I like how they broadened his character and made his journey much more enjoyable to watch. He's a spy for the Nazis, and is tasked with obtaining films for Hitler. Even by the end of the show, I haven't be able to see whether he's truly changed, or whether he's just that good of a spy. He managed to complete his tasks, though he does disobey a direct order from Obergruppenfuhrer John Smith: he doesn't kill Juliana. I'm so over Juliana and Frank. My OTP is Joe and Juliana. I hope they see each other again if they do a season 2.

John Smith - He is not a character in the book, but someone that fills the hole that is left when Joe Cinnadella becomes Joe Blake. However, I loved how they turned John Smith into an actual human being and not just a Villain! I loved the episode where the viewer glimpses into Smith's home life, but his loyalty to the idea enables him to turn over his friend Rudolph Wegener. However, the viewer sees him wrestling with his son's illness, which the state mandates that he exterminates him.

Mr. Baynes/Rudolph Wegener - In the book he is an undercover agent, who is a high ranking Nazi who wants to stop the start of WWIII between the Nazis and the Japanese. He enlists the help of Mr. Tagomi and Baynes uses Mr. Tagomi as a cover to meet with a high ranking Tokyo General. In the show, the character of Mr. Yatabe is wrapped into Mr. Tagomi, who plans with Mr. Baynes to prevent the war between Japan and Germany. They predict the power vacuum when Adolf Hitler dies or resigns, and realizes that Japanese is falling behind technologically compared to the Third Reich. I like where they went with Rudolph and the writers took what was implied in the book and drew it out. I also liked the friendship with John Smith and Rudolph, and though Smith feels a bond with his friend, his loyalty to the Reich, and to Hitler, wins out.

What did you all think of The Man in the High Castle? Have any of you read the book? Stay tuned for next week as I continue to dissect the show and compare it to the book, and decide, 'Which is Better?'

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