Married couple Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar, the creators of 1899 are on the promotional run of their mind-bending new show and have discussed at length what underpins it.
The pair revealed that with their new series, they want to promote Europeanness and broader diversity in a recent interview with Deadline Hollywood: “The whole European angle was very important for us, not only story-wise but also the way we were going to produce it.”
She continued: “It really had to be a European collaboration, not just cast but also crew. We felt that with the past years of Europe being on the decline, we wanted to give a counterpoint to Brexit, and to nationalism rising in different countries, to go back to that idea of Europe and Europeans working and creating together.”
“Being true to the cultures and the languages was really important, we never wanted to have characters from different countries but everyone speaks English. We wanted to explore this heart of Europe, where everyone comes from somewhere else and speaks a different language, and language defines so much of your culture and your behaviour.”
Notably, the show’s staff writing team comprises a diverse set of nationalities, with the cast also multicultural. Miguel Bernardeau plays Ángel, a wealthy Spaniard, Maciej Musiał Olek, a Polish stoker, Mathilde Ollivier is Clémence, a woman from the Paris elite and Isabella Wei is Ling Yi, a mysterious lady woman from China.
Friese concluded: “We just had a reading, partly on zoom, partly with actors who are here [in Germany], and it was such an amazing experience to hear everyone speak in their language, going from Spanish to French to Polish, and have it all come together. I hope it’s going to make English-speaking people learn and love different languages as well.”