Dark (seasons 1, 2, 3) – Baran bo Odar & Jantje Friese (2017-20)

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I do not have much luck with films on Netflix, especially not “Netflix original” films. This “Netflix original” series are excellent though.

In spite of the English title, “Dark” is spoken in German (you can watch it in English though). The first season starts with the mysterious disappearance of a boy. We learn that 33 years before something quite similar happened.

Initially there are some (torture) horror elements which are quite unnecessary and do not really have a function in the story either. I guess it is to raise an atmosphere in which the ‘bad guy’ can be pinpointed so that the viewer can be put on the wrong foot later on. Especially the first season is moody and fairly dark. The mystery that surrounds the village of Winden with its nuclear power plant slowly becomes clear. From then on, and particularly in the second season, this red thread is constantly twisted and turned.

The characters of the series get new faces often, which in some way makes clear what is going on and makes you ponder the underlying idea of the series. Scenes go from surprising to unlikely, but the atmosphere remains very strong. There is a minimalist soundtrack that consists mostly of just low noises and drones. Here and there is a scene with wonderfully surprising use of music.

The second series mostly stretches what we already know and at the end a new angle to the story is given with a massive cliffhanger. Indeed, in the third season, a whole new perspective to the central theme is given and within this season, new approaches are presented constantly. This gets a bit weary along the way.

The style of the series shifts somewhat as you go along. There is less and less use of music, the atmosphere gets less dark and there is more focus on drama of the tragic romantic type. The series certainly are not feel-good!

Initially the last series seem to be a bit of ‘a third leg’, but elements of the first two seasons only become clear here, so perhaps the whole show is written as one piece. The last two episodes bring you back up to speed about the first seasons (there are so many twists that I forget many details) and ends with a conclusion, so this seems to wrap it up.

So we have a very good, German series, mysterious, dramatic, philosophical, not too long (if this is indeed it). It could well be a modern day classic.

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