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Baran bo Odar

Who Am I – Baran bo Odar (2014)

An alright German Netflix film about the nerdy Benjamin who meets a group of hackers. Competing with other hacker groups, they name themselves “Clay”. In the same competition their “projects” become more and more daring.

Even though the film is about a subject which changes rapidly, it does not feel very dated. Here and there it is a bit ‘easy’. Just as if you can hack a building’s network from a nearby switch-point and manipulate in which offices the lights are turned on and off. Of course, such a scene is just to set a tone.

What the creators did do well is that they made the actual hacking and communication on the “dark web” into scenes with people in situations. So when two hackers exchange information, this happens in a dreamy scene on a subway for example. This prevents the techniques that they use from being outdated too rapidly.

But of course there also are some techniques here and I am sure some whizkid will be a better judge than myself to tell if these make sense a lot.

There is an actor that I recognised from “Dark“. Here and there the film gives me a “Dark” feel in ways of acting and story-telling and indeed, both the director Odar and fellow script writer Jantje Friese are also the creators of “Dark”. The series are significantly better than this film though, so who knows what this duo can make in the future!

As I said, “Who Am I” is a descent Netflix film.

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

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.