Friday, February 16, 2018

Dark (Season 1)

There’s something called the Novikov self-consistency principle.  It states that if time travel does exist, the universe wouldn’t allow for any alterations to the past.  Some time-travel stories adhere to this, meaning any attempt to change the past is what actually happened in the first place.   Thus, you can’t go back and kill your grandfather.  If you do go back and kill someone, it might turn out that you killed his twin brother.

That sort of problem comes up a few times in Dark.  In the German town of Winden has an Einstein-Rosen bridge, commonly called a wormhole.  It connects points in Winden’s history exactly 33 years apart.  The movie starts in 2019, but soon brings 1986 and 1953 into the story.  In 2019 and 1986, several children go missing.  There’s also the power plant, which seems to have a few secrets.

Comparisons to Stranger Things are understandable, although superficial at best.  Both stories involve children that go missing in unusual manners.  I could also make similar comparisons to 12 Monkeys, The Time Traveler’s Wife and Timecrimes.

We’re presented with a bootstrap paradox, or something fairly similar to it.  Several of the characters want to change history.  First comes the question of whether or not you should.  If you kill someone, you’d also be killing their children.  You might save people, but you’re still killing someone who hasn’t yet committed a crime.

Then, there’s the issue of whether or not you can.  Does the Novikov principle apply?  If it does, what does that mean?  Those that want to change the past don’t seem to look it up beforehand.  There’s always the possibility that you’re doing exactly what happened anyway.

Maybe that sounds cliché.  The story is still entertaining, even if it can get confusing.  You’ll find several boards covered in pictures and string.  You may even want to set one up, yourself.  If you like involved stories, this is going to be one for you.  Several people are having affairs.  We see several characters in several time periods.  A few episodes have pictures of the characters either side by side or shown in succession, making it a little easier to keep track of who’s who.  It can still get complicated, so you’ll have to pay attention.  (If you have difficulty keeping track of simpler stories, this isn’t going to be a show for you.)

The series was released through Netflix on December 1, 2017.  I didn’t find out about it until three months later.  I usually hear about Netflix series, like The OA and Altered Carbon, well enough in advance that I can watch it and post a review shortly after it starts streaming.  I’m not sure why I hadn’t heard about this series.  Was it not advertised or was I just not paying attention?  I don’t know if it has to do with the fact that it’s a German series.  (It has German and English audio with subtitles available.)

I noticed that there was no mention of East or West Germany.  Germany was split into the German Democratic Republic (East) and the Federal Republic of Germany (West) in 1949, with reunification in 1990.  I know that Europe has rules about mentioning Nazis.  I’m not sure how far this extends.  It might have been an oversight or done deliberately for some reason.  (I don’t recall seeing any flags and the one reference I recall from 1953 had a character simply saying Germany.)

I should warn parents that the title of the series is pretty descriptive.  It starts with a suicide in the first episode.  There is the aforementioned disappearance of children, some of who are found dead and disfigured.  It seems to be meant more for adults who can handle darker stories.  If you’re into lighter fare, I’d avoid watching Dark.

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