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    Barbaren

    38,109 views|Oct 24, 2020,01:44pm EDT
    ‘Barbarians’ On Netflix: A German Historical Series On Revenge And Betrayal
    Sheena ScottContributor
    Hollywood & Entertainment
    I write about cinema and TV series in Europe.
    Jeanne Gourseaud as Thusnelda in Netlfix original series 'Barbarians'
    Jeanne Gourseaud as Thusnelda in 'Barbarians'[+]
    NETFLIX
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    A new Netflix original series from Germany, Barbarians (Barbaren), was just released on the streaming platform this October 23. Produced in partnership with Gaumont, Barbarians takes the viewer back to Roman times in the northern regions of Europe we now call Germany.


    Set in 9 A.D. Germany, Barbarians is a dramatization of the events that led to the battle of the Teutoburg Forest, in which Germanic tribes confronted three legions of the Roman Empire. This battle is viewed as pivotal because it stopped the Roman expansion into northern Europe. At its core, however, the series is about the friendship of three Germanic children, who were separated during the Roman occupation and who find each other again, years later.

    There is conflict, brutal sword fights, bloody battleships, folklore mythology, and a love intrigue that fans of the series Game of Thrones and Vikings will certainly enjoy. This historical series is an absorbing tale of vengeance and betrayals.


    The first episode opens as a young woman from a Germanic tribe is presented for marriage to a keir (or chief) of a neighboring tribe. He inspects her as he would a horse about to be purchased, considering her pelvis size and her teeth. Thusnelda (Jeanne Goursaud), of course, has no intention of being sold to a prince in exchange for five horses. She is a strong and feisty young woman who knows her own mind, and she is already secretly seeing swordsman Folkwin (David Schütter).

    Jeanne Goursaud and David Schütter in Netflix original series 'Barbarians'
    Jeanne Goursaud and David Schütter in 'Barbarians'[+]
    NETFLIX

    Thusnelda is part of the Cherusci tribe, headed by chief Segimer. The Cherusci village receives an unannounced visit from Roman soldiers occupying the land. They demand an extortionate amount of tributes. Segimer, who has already offered his sons years earlier to the Roman Empire in exchange for peace, is angered that the Romans demand more tributes and calls for a meeting of all the tribal chiefs. Unfortunately, the tribes are unwilling to unite to fight together, their rivalry is too ingrained. The Romans may refer to them all as Germans, but each tribe does not consider themselves as such.

    Appalled to see that the tribes will do nothing against the Romans, Thusnelda decides with Folkwin’s help to act on their own to humiliate the Romans. Their act will have bigger repercussions than they could have foreseen. The Roman governor Varus (Gaetano Aronica) decides to avenge this offence by sending out his foster son Arminius (Laurence Rupp). Something, however, ties Arminius to this land and in particular Thusnelda and Folkwin.

    Laurence Rupp in Netflix original series 'Barbarians'
    Laurence Rupp in 'Barbarians' (Photo credit:[+]
    NETFLIX
    The German tribes are so divided that even within one tribe, it is never sure who will be loyal to the chief and who will easily betray the whole tribe for their own gain. This is the running theme of the series: who can you trust. The series seems to posit trust as a weakness, because it blinds one to potential betrayal. Within this environment are three friends who made a pact to have each other's backs, but will they break this pact once they are older?

    You’ll find yourself easily pulled into this story set within Roman occupied Germany. This is thanks to the excellent production design, the great performances, especially from the main trio Jeanne Goursaud, David Schütter and Laurence Rupp, and the series’ beautiful cinematography that establishes a certain tonality.

    Babarian is the first German historical series from Netflix, and the first Netflix project from Gaumont GmbH, a subsidiary of the French company Gaumont SA. The French Gaumont has worked with Netflix before, on such productions as Narcos and Hannibal, but Babarians is the first German project to have been launched.

    The series was created by Arne Nolting and Jan Martin Scharf, who also co-wrote the script with Andreas Heckmann. Barbara Eder directed the first four episodes and Steve St. Leger the last two of the series. According to producer Sabine de Mardt, the historical significance of the battle turned out to be an ideal backdrop for the drama unfolding between the three childhood friends.

    Barbarians is an excellent series that reveals a pivotal historical event in Europe through a gripping story of love, friendship, betrayals and revenge. With just six episodes, ending on a cliffhanger of sorts, you’ll be itching for the next season to find out what happens next.


    Sheena Scott

    I am a film historian, interested in the history and theory of cinema, as well as the technology behind the making of films. I specialize in European cinema, in…Read More
    Wife found this and we're watching the premiere as I send this. It reminds me of the beginning scene in Gladiator, when Marcus Aurelius is invading Germany. I did already watch a History Channel special on Barbarians, including this subject matter about Arminius. Funny thing though, is that two actors look like the actor who portrays Uhtred on The Last Kingdom, who himself looked like the actor that portrayed Ragnar on Vikings.

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    I watched it all, it was ok. The main thing I got from it was a not so subtle nod to the modern day that 'Rome' and 'Civilisation' were/are bad for Germanics and Europeans in general as it destroys culture and ethnic identity for soulless statism.

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    I've not seen this series, but noticed they've got the typical Hymiewood "woman warrior" thing in it, of course. *rolls eyes* Absurd.
    No attestation of female warriors amongst the Germani by Tacitus or other Romans to the best of my recollection.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KYAnglo View Post
    I've not seen this series, but noticed they've got the typical Hymiewood "woman warrior" thing in it, of course. *rolls eyes* Absurd.
    No attestation of female warriors amongst the Germani by Tacitus or other Romans to the best of my recollection.
    This is a German production and there are no woman warriors.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodskarl Dubhgall View Post
    This is a German production and there are no woman warriors.
    Well, Thusnelda is one, kind of. But it's quite a singular occurrence.

    The series was surprisingly good (especially for a German production) and quite fair towards the Germanics.
    A few of the Germanic actors, unfortunately even Arminius, were odd choices but I can look over that.
    Clothing, weaponry, buildings etc looked very authentic, especially compared to Vikings or The Last Kingdom.
    The relation between Arminius and Varus is an interesting theory.
    And the day they sold us out, Our hearts grew cold
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodskarl Dubhgall View Post
    This is a German production and there are no woman warriors.
    I meant artificially injecting female warriors into the script like Hymiewood loves to do. I hadn't yet seen any of the show, just trailers where it appeared there were women warriors among the Germans. I've watched some of it now, somewhat pleasantly surprised. I'm watching the original German language dialogue. I understand some of the German, hardly a word the Romans are speaking.
    "Almost every name belongs to well-known families of English stock....these soldiers were of ancient American lineage"- Prof. N.S. Shaler on the 1st Kentucky "Orphan" Brigade, Confederate States Army

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    Reclaiming, on Netflix, an Ancient Battle Beloved of Germany’s Far Right



    Source: New York Times

    “Barbarians” depicts the Battle of Teutoburg Forest, which has long been a rallying cry for German nationalists, including the Nazis.

    By Thomas Rogers

    Oct. 28, 2020

    BERLIN — For those unfamiliar with German history, the new Netflix show “Barbarians” might not seem especially provocative. The historical epic — reminiscent of the long-running History channel series “Vikings” — centers on a tribe of villagers in the first century A.D. trying to survive in a forested region of what is now northern Germany. Its rugged protagonists clash violently with rival tribes and, most of all, with the Roman forces who control the area.

    But the show’s six episodes build toward the first fictionalized depiction on German TV of an event that remains fraught even after two millenniums: the Battle of Teutoburg Forest, which put an end to the Roman Empire’s aspirations of controlling much of what is now Germany.

    German nationalists, including the Nazis, have used the battle as an ideological rallying point — a supposed foundational moment for German civilization and proof of their superior pedigree and fighting skills. To this day, the battle, and the tribes’ leader in the fight, Arminius, remain sources of inspiration for far-right extremists, who regularly make pilgrimages to related sites.

    The Netflix show arrives at a moment of increased German interest in the period, coinciding with a high-profile new exhibition of archaeological finds, “The Germanic Tribes,” at the James Simon Gallery on Museum Island here. Both the “Barbarians” creators and the exhibition curators faced the dilemma of how to depict the period for a broad audience without giving oxygen to extremists.

    Arne Nolting, a writer and showrunner of the series, explained via Zoom last week that part of his inspiration for making a show about the Battle of Teutoburg Forest was a desire to reclaim a pivotal moment in European history from the far right. “We didn’t want to be scared away and leave the subject to those forces we detest,” he said.

    The battle has been a political flash point since the 19th century, when modern-day Germany was a fractured mosaic of smaller states. Nationalists embraced Arminius as a symbol of German identity in their push for unification. In 1875, four years after the German Empire’s founding, officials unveiled a colossal statue of Arminius in the Teutoburg Forest. (The battle is now believed to have taken place 50 miles away at a site called Kalkriese.)

    Under the Third Reich, the Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg depicted Arminius as part of a “line of German ancestry” leading to Adolf Hitler, and schoolbooks of the period claimed that he had saved “the purity of German blood.” In 2009, the far-right extremist National Democratic Party of Germany organized a “remembrance march” commemorating the battle, under the slogan “2,000 years of fighting against foreign infiltration.”

    Nolting said that he and the other showrunners were conscious of this political baggage while crafting the narrative arc of “Barbarians,” which premiered on Oct. 23. The show focuses on three characters with connections to a real-life tribe called the Cherusci: Thusnelda (Jeanne Goursaud), the daughter of a Cherusci leader; Folkwin (David Schütter), a fictional warrior; and Arminius (Laurence Rupp).

    In its telling, Arminius is born a Cherusci but is taken away by the Roman occupiers as a young boy, only to return as a member of the imperial army — a portrayal that reflects historians’ belief that the real-life Arminius served in the Roman military before changing sides. The show’s plot is set in motion when the Romans demand large tributes from the Cherusci, heightening tensions and gradually leading Arminius to doubt his allegiance to the empire.

    Jan Martin Scharf, another writer and showrunner, said that the production team had taken a consciously gritty approach to the subject matter to avoid glorifying the violence between the Cherusci and the Romans. They also wanted to emphasize Arminius’ identity as a migrant, he said, adding, “It was important for us not to show him as some big war hero or the founder of a German empire.”

    And the creators cast Rupp, an Austrian actor, in the role in part because, with his darker complexion and hair, he did not fit the blond, blue-eyed depictions of Arminius that have been common in the past.


    When it came to overseeing the “Germanic Tribes” exhibition, Matthias Wemhoff also found depicting this period of German antiquity to be a fraught endeavor. Wemhoff, the director of the Museum of Prehistory and Early History in Berlin, said in an interview that he and his team had taken a matter-of-fact approach to avoid appealing to the far right.

    The first survey exhibition of archaeological finds from Germanic peoples, it presents over 700 items from the first to the fourth centuries A.D. — including weapons, personal items and ceramics — in understated displays. It also features an exhibit about the ways archaeological finds from the period have been politicized in the past.

    Wemhoff said that his team had worried “a lot” about how to avoid appealing to the far right, and that they had chosen a restrained subtitle — “Archaeological Perspectives” — for that reason. “We’ve never had an exhibition with such a plain title,” he said.

    Wemhoff said that many Germans had a false or clichéd view of the period because it hasn’t been widely taught in German schools since World War II. “After the Nazi period, the subject was scorched,” he said. “People have made a large detour around it.”

    The greatest false assumption, he said, is that the Germanic tribes involved in the battle were the precursors to modern-day Germans. In fact, he noted, most tribes in the area abandoned their settlements and left modern-day German territory starting in the late fourth century.

    Today’s Germans, Wemhoff noted, are descended from groups that came from other regions of Europe. “There is no continuity,” he said. “For people who have these strong, pre-existing images in their heads, it’s a challenge to engage with the topic.”

    Nolting said he had encountered little far-right online feedback before the Netflix show’s premiere. The series has been positively received in Germany, with most reviewers praising its production values, acting and emphasis on historical accuracy. DWDL, an online portal focused on German media, praised its ability to evade the “traps” of its historical source material.

    The creators emphasized that they relied on historical research to depict the period’s costuming and architecture. And for reasons of accuracy, the actors playing Romans speak their lines in ancient Latin. But the creators acknowledge that they took considerable liberties with other aspects of the story.

    The climactic battle, which historians believe stretched over three days, is depicted as a much shorter showdown, involving towering walls of flame reminiscent of “Game of Thrones” and with the kinds of emotional confrontations that are unlikely to have happened in real life.

    On this issue, however, Nolting was unapologetic. “It’s not a history lesson,” he said. “We’re making entertainment.”

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    Quote Originally Posted by Juthunge View Post
    Well, Thusnelda is one, kind of. But it's quite a singular occurrence.

    The series was surprisingly good (especially for a German production) and quite fair towards the Germanics.
    A few of the Germanic actors, unfortunately even Arminius, were odd choices but I can look over that.
    Clothing, weaponry, buildings etc looked very authentic, especially compared to Vikings or The Last Kingdom.
    The relation between Arminius and Varus is an interesting theory.
    My two favourites are Arminius's father and Thusnelda, but have a tough time thinking of watching it again. They should have made the show to cover his whole life and not simply refer to flashbacks.

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    I finished the series. Accepting it's all entertainment and not a docudrama, I'm surprised that I liked it overall. I figured the "Folkwin" character would be the one that winds up assassinating Arminius eventually when he tries to assume too much power. I did not, however, much care for the casting choice for Arminius. Looked too swarthily "Roman" and his character wasn't much like the real "heroic" man that the Roman historians described (all of which must be taken with caution as excepting Velleius Paterculus who was contemporary, they were all later foreign writers with domestic Roman moralizing/propaganda agendas in their writing).
    Still, I enjoyed it as entertainment.

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