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Travel between dimensions and resist Nazis with first look at The Man in the High Castle: Creating the Alt World
After four seasons of resistance and parallel worlds, Amazon's adaptation of The Man in the High Castle has come to an end. While we'll miss the alternate history series more than we can say, the intrigue created by the show doesn't need to end with Season 4, Episode 10. In a brand-new book, SYFY WIRE's own Mike Avila peels back the curtain on a reality in which the Axis powers (Nazi, Germany and Imperial Japan) won World War II and occupied the United States.
Going on sale next week from Titan Books, The Man in the High Castle: Creating the Alt World is chock full of never-before-seen concept art, behind-the-scenes photos, and in-depth interviews with members of the cast, costume designers, production designers, set designers, and more.
"This show is blessed with a very strong executive producer, Isa Dick Hackett, and she was the driving force behind it. I’m pretty sure she’s a very big reason why almost everybody that I wanted to talk to was made available to talk to me," Avila tells us. "She was the first person who I interviewed and she told me at the end, ‘Hey, if you need to talk to anybody and you’re not able to reach them, you let me know and I’ll make sure.’ She was a woman of her word [and] I got access to almost every single person that had a key role in the show. I think that makes the book much better for the fans because so much of the show is about the world that it inhabits."
Below, you'll see a number of exclusive spreads, pages, and images from the book. Among them, you'll note some beautiful concept art for the synagogue at Sabra, a safe haven for the last-remaining American Jews that were able to escape the Nazi murder machine of concentration camps and gas chambers."[The writers] would find out certain things like the plans that Hitler had for post-war Germany and the kind of Berlin he wanted to create," explains Mike. "And they used that to inform [the show] because the bombing out of Berlin that happened near the end of the war wouldn’t have happened here in the High Castle world because they ended up bombing us and ending the war that way. So, instead of Berlin losing much of its history in reality, Hitler’s plans would have come to life, so that’s what they ended up using. But it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, they were making it out of the blue.’ No, they were taking it from the actual plans and things that the Allies had learned about what Hitler had planned."
That extended to the duties of husband-wife set decorators Jonathan and Lisa Lancaster, who had to figure out how culture would have evolved if Germany had won the war.
"Hearing them tell me about all of the work that they went through to get authentic props to resemble what the early ‘60s would looks like if the Nazis would have won, which would look different. I thought that was very interesting," admits Avila.
"All the actors that I talked to, and I talked to a lot of them, they really were impacted by the stories that had to do with certain communities that are traditionally marginalized and made to feel like outcasts anyway were depicted in this world," says Avila. "Because in this world, they were almost exterminated outright. For the Jews, it really became a matter of just surviving. That was their resistance: survival for the Jewish community in the High Castle world was what mattered and that was what they tried to get across in Sabra."
When it came to writing about the show's main characters, Mike poured a lot of his focus into Chief Inspector Kido, menacingly played by Joel de la Fuente.
"I loved talking to Joel about Kido because Kido’s such a fascinating character. It was fascinating to hear him talk about how important the glasses were. That was something that he told me he convinced the producers to make this part of his look because the glasses help him," adds Avila. "If you’ve interviewed Joel De La Fuente about Man in the High Castle, he can switch in and out instantly from the Kido voice. His voice is totally different than that, but all of the sudden, he goes, ‘When I put the glasses on, everything changes about it.’"
In addition to de la Fuente, Alexa Davalos (Juliana Crain), Rufus Sewell (John Smith), Stephen Root (Hawthorne Abendsen), Chelah Horsdal (Helen Smith), and more also get plenty of quotes in the book.
"[Chelah is] convinced she only got the job because her and Rufus hit it off from the moment when they were in the trailer before she even went out to screen test. They hit it off in the makeup room, they became pals, and their chemistry onscreen led to her role being expanded," states Mike.
"There was a lot of great visual eye candy to latch onto here for the book. It was just a matter of me making sure that I organized it enough because there was a lot there," says Mike, who enjoyed learning about the most minute details created for the series that a casual viewer would probably never notice. "The props department basically had to create medals for fictional battles that never happened after World War II and the Allies lost ... They created it and they catalogued it and they had this whole history of different medals for different soldiers and different military branches."
To prepare for this project, Avila re-read the classic Philip K. Dick novel upon which the show is based.
"Reading it again really opened my eyes to a lot of the meanings that Philip K. Dick was going after," he continues. "Then I binged the show again. And I mean when I binged the show again, I not only watched all three seasons straight through, but I would go back to certain episodes and watch them over and over again because as you’re writing it, you think ‘What happened here?’ You’re looking for different things."
In addition to that, he also got early access to all of the scripts for the final season and got to visit the post-production offices in Los Angeles in order to view certain scenes that still had incomplete visual effects.
"I know a few things that were left out that hopefully they’ll release on the DVD set at some point," he teases.
Including a foreword from executive producer Ridley Scott (director of Alien and Blade Runner), The Man in the High Castle: Creating the Alt World goes on sale Tuesday, Dec. 12. You can pre-order a copy right here.
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