The Man in the High Castle is a new Amazon original series released on 15 January 2015. It explores an alternate reality in which the Axis powers won World War II, and Germany and Japan subsequently partitioned the United States. The show follows the harrowing lives of the resistance and the fascist authorities seeking to eliminate them. The full season was released last November, and received high acclaim from critics.
The first thing I noticed from the very beginning is the omnipresent Nazi imagery portrayed in the ‘Greater Nazi Reich’ (the former Eastern United States). You can hardly go an episode without noticing the swastika’s placement on phone booths, buildings, and most prominently the flag. It’s a very compelling metaphor for the supreme importance of the state in fascism. The state looms very large after watching, and you can’t help feeling the slightest bit paranoid about one’s own government.
In the ‘Pacific States’, the oppression is more subtle but no less interesting. There is a Japanese preoccupation with pre-war Americana, as a sort of amusing hobby for the upper classes of Japanese society. It is taken for granted that the ‘Japanese way of life’ is superior, but these collectors seem to find it all very quaint. One gets a very strong feeling that the culture is being looked down upon and patronised. The Americans in the show are in general very subservient to the Japanese, and you begin to wonder whether they have begun to internalise this cultural aggression.
On a general, more ominous note, the show highlights fascism’s propensity for war. At the start of the show, relations between the Axis powers are strained, and many in the Nazi government want to declare war. Fascism has frequently been described as requiring an enemy, and it’s neat to see this element unfolding in the show.