Walter Iuzzolino’s series on Channel 4 – Walter Presents – selects the most popular, critically acclaimed television dramas from around the world, allowing anyone with a laptop and Wi-Fi in Britain to falsely feel like they are cultured through watching handpicked shows (such as Spain’s Locked Up to Belgian black-comedy thriller The Out-Laws) for free on Channel 4’s streaming service All 4.
Each week Sinead McCausland will be reviewing a new show that the titular Walter has selected, hopefully encouraging more fans of world drama TV shows that aren’t American, with the first up being Deutschland ’83.
If you’re a first-time world drama-watcher, or simply want to get into Walter Presents but don’t know where to start, this German spy thriller is the perfect place to begin. Deutschland ’83, a German spy thriller set nine years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, is a confident, vibrant, and colourful TV series selected by lifelong film fan Walter Iuzzolino. Jonas Nay plays Martin Rauch, a 24-year-old East German soldier who is forced to change posts and become a spy in West Germany for the East German government. From the moment he wakes up in West Germany all the way to the final episode of series one, the show’s tension rises with each episode leaving you with questions you need answers to, making it the perfect show to binge-watch.
Moreover, the show provides us with many moments left alone with Jonas Nay’s character, allowing us to understand his place (or lack of) in the divided world. For example, away from the hyper-masculinity of the military site, we see Nay falling in and out of love, having cat allergies, and in a particularly sweet scene listening to music on a Walkman for the first time. Without these scenes, Nay’s character would feel underdeveloped, since while the show is a semi-political spy thriller, it’s also a Bildungsroman, with Nay’s father figures being split between both the metaphorical wall of politics and a literal, physical wall.
The cinematography is also intrinsic to the development of both the characters and the narrative, with the grey and monotone lighting of the East contrasting with the vibrant, bright colours that are ubiquitous in the West; from the clothes to the Andy Warhol-esque shopping aisles, it’s impossible for an audience accustomed to this world to not feel as overwhelmed as Martin Rauch does when first stepping into this new world.
The first series of Deutschland ’83 is available to watch here.