Culture

Friday A/V Club: The Story of Hitler's England

Something to watch with The Man in the High Castle

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The Grasshopper Lies Heavy

Today Amazon released another eight episodes of The Man in the High Castle, a TV-ish series loosely adapted from Philip K. Dick's excellent novel about a world where the Allies lost World War II. That's as good a peg as any to recommend one of my favorite what-if-the-Axis-won alternate-history tales: Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo's 1965 film It Happened Here.

Strictly speaking, this isn't a story about a timeline where the Germans won World War II. It's a story about a timeline where the Germans conquered Britain during World War II. The war is still ongoing, and without offering any spoilers I'll just say that for most of the movie it's an open question which side will win. At any rate, the picture isn't really about the global conflict. It's about life under occupation, and the ease with which people in such a situation can become collaborators. Put another way: This isn't a film about war so much as it's a film about fascism.

The full movie doesn't seem to be online, but here's an excerpt: a newsreel that shows the occupation from the Nazi propagandists' point of view. There are a lot of wry touches here—in this vision of history, the Christmas truce during World War I planted the seeds of German-British unity, the air raids that decimated London were "the fruits of Jewish control," and any resistance to the new order can be dismissed as communist:

 

Bonus link: If Dick's novel is my favorite World War II alt-history story and this movie is my second favorite, I suppose the number-three slot goes to Brad Linaweaver's book Moon of Ice. In Linaweaver's libertarian spin on the story, Europe goes totalitarian while the U.S. becomes virtually stateless. Check it out here.

(For past editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here.)