1983 Is The Modern Day 1984

1983 is a dystopian drama that takes place in an alternate reality Poland, where the Iron Curtain is still in place and Soviet’s communistic style is still in control. It’s a little hard to pick up at first the differences between our reality and the 1983 reality but it’s brought up in multiple scenes, so you can pick it up relatively quickly. The show is Netflix’s first Polish original and they truly did it right with well-designed plot and pacing as well as brilliant cinematography, this could be Netflix’s next hit. 

The story begins 20 years after “the 1983 bombing,” when a terrorist group sets up bombs in all of the major cities in Poland. The story follows the lives of Kajetan Skowron (Maciej Musial), a young law student who begins questioning everything around him after his professor shows him a crime case  from three years ago with a shady decision from the jury. The case laid out was a triple homicide with two parents and their son whose body was never found. Anatol Janów (Robert Wieckiewicz) a grizzled, hard detective who was disgraced when he disagreed with the court’s decision for the same case. Skowron seeks out Janów to help him find out if the man evicted really did do the triple homicide or if something else is going on. As the duo learns more and more about the case, they realize how high up the conspiracy goes and that many people would rather the answer not be found. 

One of the shows strongest points is its plot and mystery. From the very beginning of the first episode they throw hint after hint at you about the subtle conspiracies going on in this alternate reality. All the plot points  tie into each other so well to reveal this vast mystery of the truth of this case, who’s covering it up, why are they covering it up, and who works for who. The entire show keeps you on the edge of your seat as you think about how everything in the story connects, whether it’s the old case from 1982 or the new case from 2003 where a man supposedly committed suicide. It also includes the plot of the rebels trying to overthrow the totalitarian government, the show makes it so that you can’t predict what might happen next. With subtle reveals like, who the suicide victim was in contact with, the viewer feels the same kind of surprise that the characters do. The plot is absolutely brilliant in terms of pacing as well. The show is always giving a lot of information at once and feels fast paced but is able to show the information in a way that makes it easy to process  by explaining the details out very clearly in a none expositional way.

Another amazing aspect of the show is its use of cinematography. The way they portray a dystopian 2003, Poland is done so well. All the colors they use are dark and dreary which gives a very noir  vibe to the whole show, with all the classic noir elements from the cold detective who doesn’t play by the rules and has a relationship with a double-crossing lover, to a murder crime that needs solving. The vibe pairs up very well with its characters and the way that a few of them act, like how Janów is a very stoic and cold person, or how many of the government officials are shown being very shady and mysterious. Everything in the entire show looks gray from the environment to the clothes. It really gives the depressed feeling that you would expect from a totalitarian style regime . The show also sprinkles various signs  of the totalitarian government within the scenes, though not too much to the point where it becomes annoying to see. In the background of most of the outside scenes there are posters and various other forms of propaganda to further represent how the government is very controlling in this version of 2003 , using posters that support government, like many that remind the people of travesties that only the government can protect them from.

This series is very reminiscent of the book 1984 in a lot of ways, one of which being the very name sake of 1983 being one year earlier than 1984. The first is in the theme of censorship. Both stories deal with government’s who ban books about revolution. It also features a scene where Minister Trojan (Wojciech Kalarus) say that they are going to change the written history like in the fourth episode , similar to how the government changes the history in books in 1984. There are many references to “the party” being the salvation for the people, showing that the people love their government and truly believe they are great, just like the people in 1984 do. 1983 like 1984 both try to show how far the government can go with controlling the people when left uncheck. 

The only downside to watching this show is when watching the Netflix dub, the characters sound practically robotic as if they were made from voice synthesizer, so if you’re going to watch the show it might be a better idea to try and go with the subtitles otherwise be prepared for some off-putting dialog and voices. However, if your able to sit through the horrible sound you will get to hear the smart dialog and amazing script writing that this show has to offer that really feels natural for the characters.

1983 is an amazing show that combines brilliant cinematography with smart writing to make an amazing conspiracy thriller. The show leaves you hanging on the edge of your seat with fast paced action and a mystery that you have to try and solve with the characters. The entire time you’re trying to figure out if or how the rebel will try and overthrow the government as anything can happen in this amazing dystopian thriller.