Edited by Gavriel D. Rosenfeld


Edited by Gavriel D. Rosenfeld

Friday, September 15, 2017

What If the Cold War Never Ended? Netflix's Upcoming Polish Alternate History

In the wake of the all the controversy surrounding HBO's Confederate (and its Amazon competitor, "Black America"), it's exciting to see Netflix getting involved with a project set in an alternate 1980s Poland where the Solidarity movement was crushed and the cold war never came to an end.

Here's the description from Netflix:

"Warsaw, Poland -- Sept. 13, 2017 - Netflix, the world’s leading entertainment service, continues its investment in European productions with the announcement of its first original series in Polish language. Academy Award-nominee Agnieszka Holland and Kasia Adamik will direct the eight-episode season, which will be shot in various cities and regions in Poland. The show is expected to launch to Netflix members around the world in 2018."



"Following in the great tradition of Cold War spy thrillers, this alternative history series takes place in a world where the Iron Curtain never fell. Now, in 2002, twenty years after a devastating terrorist attack in 1982 that halted the course of Poland’s liberation and the subsequent downfall of the Soviet Union, an idealistic law student and a disgraced police investigator stumble upon a conspiracy that has kept the Iron Curtain standing and Poland living under a repressive police state. After two decades of peace and prosperity, the leaders of the regime enact a secret plan that was made with an unlikely adversary in the 1980s that will radically transform Poland and affect the lives of every citizen in the nation — and the world. What these two men discover has the potential to ignite a popular revolution and those in power will stop at nothing to keep it a secret."

At first glance, this nightmare scenario -- like all nightmare scenarios -- seems primed to justify the reality of the present, specifically the belief of Poles that the way history actually turned out was for the best.  Yet it surely will also be seen as containing a not-so-thinly-veiled, presentist admonition for Poles to make sure that the Soviet domination portrayed in the series is never again repeated courtesy of Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Like "The Man in the High Castle's" contemporary function as a warning against resurgent fascism, Amazon's Polish series will warn against resurgent Russian domination.   

The question is whether the series will receive the same kind of criticism from Putin's media lapdogs as HBO's "Confederate" received from American critics.

If so, it will once more confirm alternate history's capacity to foster controversy.

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