The creators of 1899 explain why the Netflix show has multiple languages
Netflix's newest drama series 1899 comes from the creators of Dark and sees a group of migrants travel aboard a steamship heading out of Europe on its way to New York. As their journey across the Atlantic Ocean progresses, things soon take a rather dark and mysterious turn when they discover their boat's sister ship Prometheus, which has been missing for over four months.
Starring Emily Beecham, Aneurin Barnard, and Andreas Pietschmann, the eight episode series has been praised heavily by fans. However, one thing many fans have been wondering is why the series includes so many languages.
Throughout 1899 viewers are shown characters speaking English, German, French and Cantonese amongst many others, as the ship's passengers are migrants from across Europe all travelling to New York for a new life.
The show's creators Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar explained their reasoning for the cast speaking their own languages, rather than diverting to English. They said having grown up watching a lot of Hollywood movies and TV shows they felt there was an underrepresentation of different cultures and therefore wanted the cast to speak in their own languages.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Friese said: "I think it’s something about growing up in Europe, or growing up as a German, when you consume entertainment, which, at least in our experience, is coming largely from Hollywood. There’s just an underrepresentation of the different European cultures, the different narratives from around the world.
"For a long time, even already in film school, we had this urge to change that, to really have characters from particular countries speak in their own voices, because language really defines character. If you want to have an authentic performance, it’s just better when actors perform in their own language."
Friese explained they wrote the initial script in English but they would have the translated dialogue on the other side of the script.
And when speaking about how the cast managed filming whilst not always speaking the same language, bo Odar said: "they really didn't understand each other. That was the beauty of it. It was so easy for them to just react."
Friese added this is the point of 1899 that even if people cannot understand the words they are saying, they can understand a person through body language and emotions.
She said: "That was the whole point of the show. We can see that even if you don’t really understand what words are being spoken, you understand what the other person is trying to communicate. You know it by the emotional state, how they are addressing you, their body language and everything. You know if something is urgent or not important."
1899 is available on Netflix now.
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