Netflix has a lot of opportunity in the market right now, with there being a shortage of movie releases from Hollywood. They sure seem to be taking advantage of that, by headlining international series to take the central stage.
The latest on the roster is its German historical drama Oktoberfest: Beer and Blood. This is Ronny Schalk’s second project with Netflix, after the conclusion of the popular time-travelling, sci-fi series, Dark. Although Oktoberfest, the period drama, boasts of being inspired by true historical events, some events were not so accurate.
Oktoberfest: Beer and Blood is a drama series which portrays the story of ambitious German brewer Curt Prank and his struggle to build a massive and expansive beer tent in the Munich Oktoberfest at the start of the twentieth century that could house 6000 people.
He was going to stop at nothing from accomplishing his goal of cashing in on this lucrative market, be it destroying his competitors or paying his way into society. But then, Prank’s daughter Clara falls in love with the heir of rival beer baron which puts a spanner in Prank’s plans, which is followed by a series of violent events which puts the futures of both the families at stake.
The gruesome reality of Oktoberfest!
What does this show really deal with? Oktoberfest deserves props for showcasing the reality of life back in the 1900s. There is a very disturbing and unsettling scene where Clara, after spending a night with her love interest Roman, begins to feel sick and then he attempts to induce a miscarriage with the use of vinegar.
The series covers a host of topics ranging from industrialization and sexual liberty and also stands out due to the presence of unpleasant colonialism that was present in the early 20th century by the depiction of German Samoa.
Netflix has certainly outdone themselves in the presentation of this show when compared to other international dramas they have produced. There are tremendous aerial shots and cinematography throughout the series which are just breathtaking and are expertly executed by cinematographer Felix Cramer. Cramer takes it up a notch as the season progresses.
As the Oktoberfest commences, the cinematography follows old-style German craftsmanship and keeps the camera work dynamic which embeds viewers directly into the festive vision of 1900 Munich. Initial few episodes are very dark, as they are mostly night-time sequences, which makes it very hard to keep track of the brewers’ deals and murders.
Director Hannu Salonen has a remarkably uphill task of depicting this progressive style of Beerfest for the small screen.
“Most of my work was really planning, planning, planning, planning before we actually went into the shooting because we didn’t have the means to just build the whole thing there,” Salonen says. “And still we had like 4,000 extras all in historical costume, so it’s really huge.”
This show offers a bit of everything – ambition, love and murder! Along with that, the production value of the show is excellent and so is the background score. Oktoberfest also has stunning shots of great visuals spread throughout the series which is also worth sticking around for. The characters are interesting and are well-written and do a good job to hook us in. There are some minor issues that held it back from soaring even higher, but all-in-all, a really good series.
While it is hard to predict if Netflix will renew it for a second season, ideas have already started flowing from the minds of the creative team, especially Schalk and Salonen, so those are some positive signs ahead.
Oktoberfest: Beer and Blood is streaming on Netflix.
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