This week, I started a new credentialing class and it’s kind of awful, in terms of the extra stress that it puts me under. I haven’t been writing the last few days, and I have noticed a change in my mood from when I was writing. When I stop writing, I feel like I’m going to scream from not getting my words out. And so, I’m back to it.
This time, I’m writing about the Man in the High Castle, which is extremely fitting as I’m also teaching Churchill’s Memoirs of the Second World War with my students. I have watched four episodes in between episodes of Parks and Rec in order to keep my spirits up. When I tried to watch it before, I didn’t get very far, but as I’m learning more about World War II at the moment, it is the perfect show.
The premise is that Nazi Germany developed the atom bomb before America and dropped it on Washington D.C. America was eventually defeated by the Axis Powers and divided up between the greater Nazi Reich and the Japanese Pacific states, with a neutral zone in between, running through Colorado. The story is set in 1962 and focuses on two young people, Juliana Crane, a citizen of the Pacific States, and Joe Blake, a Nazi spy infiltrating a resistance cell. The two meet because of a film, made my the secretive Man in the High Castle, which portrays the end of World War II as we know it, with the defeat of Nazi Germany. It’s a really interesting premise, and well treated. It shows how the abuse of a people cannot be sustained until they strike back.
When Juliana takes the film, her boyfriend Frank is detained and tortured, and almost shot by firing squad for the crime of being Jewish, even though it was only his grandfather. Instead, Frank’s sister and her two children are gassed. Because of this, he turns militant, buying a pistol, and making plans to go and shoot the Japanese Crown Prince who is visiting San Francisco. At the same time, a Nazi agent is trying to slip nuclear secrets to the Crown Prince so that Japan will not be crushed after Hitler’s death and the inevitable power struggle that that will cause. Instead, the Japanese Crown Prince is shot, but not by Frank. Frank is ready to do it, but someone else shoots the fatal bullets, leaving the question of the future of Japanese – German relations in the air.
It keeps me going, even though it’s depressing, because it weaves together the history so well, and really brings the sense of a fully developed world, just one that is wrong. One of the best examples of this is a song that is in the 60s doo-wop style but sung in Japanese. The opening, set to a chilling rendition of Edelweiss, reinforces the fact that America is a conquered nation. As a nation, we have never experienced this. We have subjugated others, and not been subjugated ourselves. I think that watching a show like this makes it easier to sympathize with the plight of people in hundreds of countries or ethnic groups that do not feel at home and equal in their own nation.
I’m looking forward to watching more. Who is the Man in the High Castle? Only time will tell.