Why You Should Be Watching Amazon's 'The Man In The High Castle'

Why You Should Be Watching Amazon's 'The Man In The High Castle'

The new season of Amazon's original series brings out the human side in history's most ruthless and notorious.
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When I first heard of the new season of the Amazon Prime original series “The Man in the High Castle” that premiered earlier this month, I was somewhat curious. I had watched the first two episodes of the first season last year in November when they were both free. “Maybe the first episode of this season will also be free?” I thought. A joyous surprise came though when I logged onto Amazon to see when the season premier was… and saw that somehow, almost magically, I had acquired Amazon Prime! I asked my dad about this later (we share the same Amazon account), but he said he didn’t recall purchasing Prime. I don’t recall purchasing it either, but regardless, I was ecstatic and binge watched the first season during the wee hours of the weekday morning when I should have been sleeping, studying, or doing homework. After the final credits for the first season finale rolled past, I waited eagerly for season two to arrive.

For those unfamiliar with the series, which I do heartedly recommend, “The Man in the High Castle” is a loose adaptation of the original 1962 novel by late science fiction author Philip K. Dick. The novel imagines life in an alternate reality where the Axis powers won WWII and now rule the world. The United States is divided in half, with the Greater Nazi Reich occupying the East coast and the Japanese empire occupying the West coast. Between the two lies the Neutral Zone (formed by the Rocky Mountains), an area that serves as a buffer zone between the two world powers, as Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan are currently engaged in a decades-long Cold War. Unlike the Cold War in our universe, it is a bit one sided, as Nazi Germany has possessed nuclear weapons since at least 1945, while Japan has yet to built their first.

Needless to say, the Amazon series has a rather dark tone; seriously, how can life under global rule by the Axis powers possibly be cheery? However, the premier of season two came at a rather peculiar time, even if the release date was decided upon rather long ago. The recent election of Donald J. Trump as the next President of the United States meant that Google and all the entertainment coverage websites were flooded with mentions of how the series is now a little more unnerving in the wake of Trump’s victory. The rotten reviews on Rotten Tomatoes even explicitly called out the bad timing as a major reason for the reviewers’ disappointment in the season.

Of course, this is all very subjective and politically influenced. Half the nation was utterly joyful and filled with hope when Trump claimed victory early last month. That half of the nation, though, is generally not the type to fill the Internet with reviews of the latest movies and TV shows. In a year that already saw the release of a positively reviewed film detailing Barack Obama’s early romance with Michelle (“South Side with You”), it seemed rather odd to me, if not outright partisan and biased, to suddenly let politics influence one’s opinion on a work of fiction. While there was a moment or two while I watched season two where I got a brief chill at the parallels between the series and America in December of 2016, overall the series did little to evoke any sense of political emotion, and I advise everyone to watch it knowing full well that it is an adaptation of a Cold War era novel, filmed months ago, and nothing more. While the supposed rise of white nationalism (or at least its prominence) in this country is a bit unnerving, I remain fairly confident that it will not bloom into more anytime soon. Trump himself merely farmed the white nationalists’ interest for votes and now wants nothing more to do with them. Whether or not they will try to use him as a “useful idiot” remains to be seen however.

Season two encountered some weird quandaries during production: the series showrunner left around halfway through season production / filming, and the series concluded production without ever finding a new replacement. Also, past the first episode, the series effectively covered all the plotlines from the original source material. Everything from that point onwards Amazon had to create for themselves. Unfortunately, this sudden need to craft their own narrative shows pretty well during the second season. The series now was rather struggling (if it wasn’t before) to find what kind of show exactly that it wanted to be and what direction that it wanted to head in. The end result is a bit convoluted and heavy-handed.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead! Skip ahead if you’ve yet to watch “The Man in the High Castle” season finale!

By the end of the season finale, I got the impression that Amazon ultimately decided that this season would merely be a transition season for whatever Amazon has in store for the future. The sudden reappearance of Juliana Crain’s sister Trudy Walker, alive, and Japanese trade minister Nobusuke Tagomi’s strange voyage through our world’s 1962 hints at more universe hopping in the series future. If that is the case, I find this a somewhat worrying change of theme and focus and can only hope that Amazon navigates this transition well.

A major difference between seasons one and two is the amount of interaction between the main characters. While in season one, the show’s protagonists and “antagonists” all shared story threads that ultimately tied together pretty well, season two sees most of its characters all going their separate ways, never physically sharing the same place at the same time, though Tagomi’s encounter with our universe’s Juliana Crain could count as an exception. Joe Blake is in Berlin throughout most of the season, hence the series spawning in two new characters (his dad and Nicole) is flesh out his storyline. Miss Crain spends most of her time in the Greater Nazi Reich with Obergruppenfuehrer John Smith. Frank Frink undergoes a somewhat contrived character metamorphosis as he joins the Resistance in the Pacific States, while also helping out Ed and Childan on the side. Chief Inspector Kido largely is involved with his own work in the Pacific States, and Tagomi is off in another universe entirely!

END SPOILERS.

As with season one, season two again follows characters from both the Axis and (former) Allied powers. This leads to an exorbitant amount of moral ambiguity and grayness. Chief Inspector Kido and Obergruppenfuehrer Smith might very well be considered monsters by some. Indeed, they commit acts that are more typical among movie villains than series “protagonists.” Both men though are merely products of their place in society. They are both fathers and military veterans, and the show points this out poignantly. Would they not be doing their heinous deeds were it not for the job titles that they hold? Perhaps season three will tell. Either way, to feel sympathy for a Nazi and a Kempeitai officer is not to be looked down upon when looking deeper into their lives as mere mortal men. Their ambiguous morality, along with that of the shady American Resistance members, only seeks to highlight that people in real life are rarely one-dimensional. We are all only human and subject to be products of our environment, whatever that shall entail.

Cover Image Credit: Amazon Studios

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9 Eligible Princes You Need To Know About Now That Prince Harry Is Off The Market

You too could have a Meghan Markle fairytale
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Prince Harry's royal wedding is officially over and there won't be another British royal wedding for quite some time now, as Prince George is way too young to start thinking about that. Fortunately, there are plenty of other countries with plenty of other princes that are still eligible bachelors at the moment. Lucky for you, I did my research and compiled a list of all the eligible princes you need to know about know that Prince Harry has tied the knot with Meghan Markle.

1. Prince Louis of Luxembourg (31)

Prince Louis is the third son of the Grand Duke Henri and Duchess Maria Theresa of Luxembourg. He has recently become a bachelor again after his separation with his wife of 10 years, Princess Tessy.

Fun Fact: He graduated from Richmond, The American International University of London with a BA in Communications. He can also speak Luxembourgish (the fact that's even a language is fun fact by itself), French, German, and English fluently.

2. Prince Sebastien of Luxembourg (26)

Prince Sebastien is the youngest child of the Grand Duke Henri and Duchess Maria Theresa of Luxembourg, so if you marry him, you'll probably never actually be queen because he's pretty far removed from the throne. However, he's relatively young and single, so best of luck.

Fun Fact: For some bizarre reason, this prince actually went to college in Ohio. He played rugby and graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2015. Now, he is back in his home country and is an officer in the Luxembourg Army.

3. Prince Phillipos of Greece and Denmark (34)

You read that correctly, Prince Phillipos is the prince of not one, but two countries. He is the youngest son of King Constantine and Queen Anne Marie of Greece and Denmark. Unfortunately, Greece abolished their monarchy, so he's a prince in name only there.

Fun Fact: Like Prince Sebastien, Prince Phillipos also went to college in the United States. He earned his B.A. in foreign relations from Georgetown University in 2008. Fortunately, for us American girls, he is actually still living in the US and he works in New York City as an analyst at Ortelius Capital.

4. Prince Albert of Thurn and Taxis (34)

Ever heard of Thurn and Taxis? No? Me neither. Anyways, Prince Albert is from the House of Thurn and Taxis, which is essentially a very old German aristocratic family. He is the son of Prince Johannes XI of Thurn and Taxis and Countess Gloria of Schonburg Glauchau. His family is well known for their breweries and castles, so unless you're gluten-free, you can't really complain.

Fun Fact: He's not just a prince. He's also a racecar driver and 10 years ago he was ranked 11th on Forbes Magazine's List of The 20 Hottest Young Royals.

5. Prince Mateen of Brunei (26)

Prince Mateen is basically like all the guys you already know, except he's royalty. He's the prince of Brunei, which is a small country on the island of Borneo, south of Vietnam. He is one of the five sons of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, and he also has seven sisters. Maybe that's a little different than the guys you know, but one thing he takes very seriously, just like most frat guys, is his Instagram.

Fun Fact: Mateen enjoys playing polo, flying in his private plane, cuddling cute wild animals, and keeping up his Insta game with 890k followers. You can follow him @tmski.

6. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai (35)

Sheikh Hamdan also has a killer Instagram with 6.3 million followers. Anyways, Sheikh Hamdan is the billionaire crown prince of Dubai and the second son of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and essentially the king of Dubai (Emir). He's actually next in line for the throne because his older brother died in 2015.

Fun Fact: Hamdan's hobbies include skydiving, zip lining, and diving, just to name a few, so if you're an adrenaline junkie, Sheikh Hamdan is the prince for you.

7. Prince Hussein of Jordan (23)

Prince Hussain is the son of the extremely beautiful, Queen Rania and Abdullah II of Jordan and next in line for the Jordanian throne. At 23, he's already a second lieutenant in the Jordanian Armed Forces and he was the youngest person ever to chair a UN Security Council Meeting


Fun Fact: Like Prince Phillippos, Prince Hussain also graduated from Georgetown University in Washington D.C.. Also, like Prince Mateen and Prince Hamdan, he's Insta famous with 1.3 million followers and you can follow him @alhusseinjo.

8. Prince Constantine-Alexios of Greece and Denmark (19)

Like Prince Phillipos, Prince Constantine-Alexios also has two countries. Lucky for us though, he is also living in the US right now attending Georgetown University in Washington D.C. (like pretty much every other prince, amirite?) He is the oldest son of Crown Princess Marie-Chantal and Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece.

Fun Fact: He's Prince William's godson, so that's pretty neat. However, if that wasn't cool enough, you might like to know that this Greek/Danish prince was actually born in New York. Oh yeah, you can also follow him on Instagram @alexiosgreece where he has 88.7k followers.

9. Prince Joachim of Belgium (26)

Prince Joachim of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este is the third child of Lorenz, Archduke of Austria-Este and Princess Astrid of Belgium. Although he bears the title, "Prince of Belgium," he is also Archduke of Austria-Este, Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia, and Prince of Modena. Unfortunately, he'll probably never actually be king in any of these countries as he is ninth in line to the Belgian throne.

Fun Fact: Prince Joachim has degrees in economics, management, and finance, but he decided to join the Nautical School in Brugge after completing college and is currently an officer in the Belgian Navy.

Hope is not lost for all you girls dreaming of finding a Prince Charming that's literally a prince. After reviewing the data, my best advice is to transfer to Georgetown where princes are basically around every corner.

Cover Image Credit: @meghantheduchessofsussexstyle/Instagram

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'The House That Jack Built' Is One of Many Films That Questions The Ethics And Psychology Of People, Including The Film Director's

Movies are everywhere today and the way that they affect different people, is interesting to see and understand. I mean everyone understands them differently, so it is fun to see who sees it how.

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The movie industry as we known it is changing every single day. There are new movies with different tales coming out all the time. However, we often applaud for the actors who did the amazing job in the movie, but it is more often than not the directors who come up with these amazing one of a kind ideas for people to have head- turning reactions. This then brings up the question of how certain films affect different people and whether or not a director should allow ethics to influence his films. For the influential part the perfect example would be the movie "The House That Jack Built" because the director makes it to an interesting level of gory that caused audiences of regular movie-goers to get up and leave but makes journalists stay.

It kind of makes one wonder how the psychological makeup is different for both.

To many, the answer to the second question, at least, would be easy. No, a director should not allow ethics to get in the way of his or her film because if he or she does, then the whole film could end up awful. There are also those few people, like me, who say that on the flip side, a director should allow his or her ethics to come in the middle of their work because if they do not, then it could make for a bad film for very different reasons. If the director truly believes that a certain sense or a certain part should not be part of a film, they should definitely take it out, because honestly, what you personally believe is more important than how others may judge.

Whatever your view is, every director is different, and that leads to the first question of how different films affect different people.

I mean think about it: a film with a happy marriage at the end could make you happy because you love that your two favorite characters got their happiness, but your friend sitting next to you could be sad and balling her eyes out because she is watching these people get together, and she has not found her person for life. These differences in perception are not just in the emotions that come out, they are also in those films that you cannot simply stomach, but you friends think are the best in the world. This being said, one very big example would be Director Lars Von Trier.

Lars Von Trier is a very controversial film director who reentered the Cannes Film Festival this year. He was initially banned after he said that he sympathized with the Nazis. Anyways, he reentered with what many have been saying is his most gruesome film yet: "The House That Jack Built."

This film has caused many film goers who went to go watch it walk out of the theater. However, when journalists went to go watch the movie, hardly any came out. When asked, one said, "That wasn't as bad as I expected." This was weird because the frequent movie goers had to get up and leave, but the journalist did not.

This is only one example of how a journalist's perception is different than the average person's perception. Another example would be "The Avengers" when the movie goers thought it was amazing and made the $1.5 billion, but out of the critics, only a few of them saw anything that was amazing and cool about it. It makes one think about the psychological mind of a journalist versus a regular human because of the way that they think, especially when it comes to movies.

In other words, not matter what you answer to the questions of how how certain films affect different people and whether or not a director should or should not include their ethics in their work. Each person is different, and that is not bad. Yes, I believe that the director should use his or her ethics, but it is up to their personal discretion. Lastly, it is interesting to see the different points of views for all movies; maybe it has to do with how ones brain is psychologically... who knows.

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