NAB 2017: 'Man in the High Castle' Aims to Capture an Authentic World That Never Was

The show's insiders discussed the complexities of portraying what the U.S. would be like had it lost WWII
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Las Vegas — Man in the High Castle, Amazon’s most-watched original series, is also among its most complex, from its chilling premise to depicting the alternative post-WWII America in which it takes place.

"We are still just scratching the tip of this world," executive producer Daniel Percival said Tuesday.

Percival’s comments were part of a panel discussion at the NAB Show in Las Vegas in which he, Amazon Studio’s Marc Resteghini and series star Joel de la Fuente discussed the intricacies of Man in the High Castle, and what it takes to depict what the U.S. would be like had Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan won the war.

From a creative and production standpoint, those intricacies involve the challenge of portraying a time and place – early 1960s U.S., in which the West Coast is under Japanese control and the East Coast is under the Nazis – that never existed, yet doing so with some semblance of historical accuracy.

Related: Amazon Greenlights Season 3 of 'Man in the High Castle'

Panelists said one of the biggest challenges, for instance, was deciding what kind of music could be used in the show, as, had the Axis powers really won, there wouldn’t be any Beatles or Bob Dylan playing. American cities would look different than they do today – and from each other, depending on whose rule they were under. Nazi medals and uniforms would likely have changed from what they were during the war.

All of which is an integral part of capturing what presumably would have been the mindset under such circumstances, "a world where America is a defeated nation, an occupied nation," which has had a profound effect on the show’s impact on viewers, Percival said.

"To put you in that world forces you to reflect on your world now," he said.

Cast member de la Fuente, who plays Imperial Japan's chief inspector, said portraying the show's Japanese and German characters as multi-dimensional people who are, say, good fathers and husbands, challenges long-held beliefs about whether the people who were part of those regimes had any sense of humanity or compassion.

"When you find yourself implicated in having complex emotions or reactions to these things, we have you where you want you," he said.

All of which, Percival said, plays into the role Man in the High Castle has in keeping the threat of totalitarian regimes in people's minds, and being aware that the world depicted in the show could have actually been a reality.

"This stands as an example of how it could have gone, and how it could go in the future," he said.

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