The Man in the High Castle is exceptional television. With a compelling plot, its fascinating world intrigues, and horrifies, with each newly revealed detail.
The cast is largely strong and I was especially pleased to see Rufus Sewell among them. He’s a striking actor and cuts a fine (albeit evil) figure as he struts his stuff in a zippy Hugo Boss uniform. But it was a moment in episode six of season one, Three Monkeys, that demonstrated how much control is going into what could be a scenery chewing performance.
Obergruppenführer John Smith and Rudolph Wegener reminisce about the “good old days” after the war. Wegener insists that his old friend can’t have made peace with everything they did in “the camps”, that it must still haunt him. Smith doesn’t break Wegener gaze, his enormous eyes focused and still.
But beneath the unflinching gaze of a true fanatic, a tick begins around Sewell’s mouth. The twitches are tiny but they betray Smith, and hint at the vast, dark horror beneath the surface.
Need further proof that Sewell is rocking the role? Consider that Smith is still terrifying despite wearing a cardigan for the whole episode.
The piece is right for the period, released in 1956, but it was designed in a post-war America and on the Nazi side of the neutral zone. Nazi’s weren’t fans of the Modern design style exemplified by the chair, for example they shut down the Bauhaus school in 1933, labeling it “un-German”. It’s unlikely this chair would ever have been made, let alone be in a prized pre-war collection.
It must be hard enough to do the set design for a lavish period production, without adding the confusion of an alternative timeline. We’ve been spoiled by Mad Men.