Dark, the German Netflix series, is possibly one of the most ominous and bleak storytelling masterpiece that we have been served up. Since, this will be a totally spoiler free review, I will focus more on the overarching themes and intricacies, rather than using events as a lure. The aim is not to make Dark, this compulsion of a series like Game of Thrones, where if you have not watched a single episode, one is deemed as living under a rock or a social outcast. The aim is to highlight the absolute brilliance Dark offers, by weaving the complexities of a person’s past, their emotions, and how everything they are currently doing and has done in the past, is interconnected with the greatest enemy of all, Time.
The setting of the story, feels eerily like the one in Stranger Things. A small town with a nuclear plant, sounds like the makings of a sci-fi thriller. What Dark does is interconnect these lives, their actions, what they feel with frequent flashbacks. But as the series progresses, revelations will leave the viewers gaping at the brilliance of storytelling. Since, these revelations are not made to shock the audience into making reaction videos, but rather it portrays the significant role every person has in someone else’s life, and how a single choice has carved out their lives. Yes, it bears similarities with Predestination, but while Predestination is a film on self-sufficiency and time travel, this is on the contrast a series of dependency and time travel. Here, you do not root for characters, but rather you are left helpless with the fact that, every choice of theirs is pre-made. Hence, you love these characters so much more. It brings out the deepest secrets of a person, and the viewer is not allowed to polarise his/her opinions regarding someone, since even the sin committed, was out of a helpless choice.
The above paragraph must feel quite abstract, but that is because I want you to experience this meandering river of a story, with its sudden creeks and gushing waterfalls representative of the suspense and twists, from the get go. The story starts with the suicide of a father with a letter, only supposed to be opened after a particular date and a particular time. This is soon followed by the kidnapping of a young boy which sets in motion a chain of events, which finally results in a devastating conclusion, but again, a conclusion that was pre-written. And reaching the conclusion is a stellar cast, where everyone is vulnerable, everyone has wrongdoings and every action has a consequence. I am not a guy who knows his way around a camera, but every scene carries a meaning and there is a lot of premonitions and hidden details if one watches closely. Every scene is an information, which highlights a certain aspect of a person’s character, however small that maybe, because something as insignificant as birds dropping dead from the sky, comes with a reasoning and a small detail, contributing to the larger picture. Often the dialogues are double-edged as well.
A typical example of it is a conversation between two women, where one is having an illicit affair with the other’s wife. When the wife confronts the adulterer, she replies with its over between us, and keeps repeating it. But as the camera pans to the devastated face of the wife, we truly grasp the words as not just the mere mutterings of an adulterer, but as the exact feelings the wife is going through, It’s over between her and her husband. The music is haunting and it is kept that way, all throughout knowingly. You never escape from the impending doom. There is no respite to the building tension, until it resolves and the resolution again becomes the downfall of someone else.
In conclusion, I would say that in this day and age of television, where series are made to make you laugh, cry, be excited and root for a character, Dark does all of the above but makes you actually think of the emotions you have been too afraid to tamper with. Helplessness and fate.
© Surya Sekhar Mondal