Shadowplay is currently in the top 10 most watched series on Netflix. Focus on a spectacular program that takes its viewers to the heart of a post-war Berlin decimated by the hatred and violence of those who live there.

 The Shadowplay series has been an astonishing journey , first screened exclusively at the CannesSeries festival season 3 in 2020, before being broadcast on ZDF (a German channel), landing on Netflix US in August 2021 then, finally, on Canal+ on September 2. In September 2022, the series finds itself propelled into the top of the most viewed series on Netflix, even surpassing The Crown .

Released rather discreetly, this German, Canadian and French production created by Mans Marlind nevertheless deserves, we assure you, all your attention .

Shadowplay , a striking historical fresco

In the aftermath of World War II, an American policeman, Max McLaughlin, arrives in West Berlin destroyed by enemy bombs, where robbery, rape and starvation reign, to help create a “commissariat” of police mainly held by women.

At the same time, Max investigates what has become of his brother Moritz… and will quickly realize that the latter has become a Nazi hunter.

In this Berlin without faith or laws still shaken by years of war , lives are fragile, violence permanent. Accompanied by the energetic and courageous Elsie Garten, a former semiotics professor turned police chief, Max faces the harshness of a city that still bears the scars of horror every day.

Shadowplay , a bombastic program

Highly tragic historical period, tortured, depressed, abused characters, bombed-out city scenery, nazi tracking: we don’t laugh for a single second in front of Shadowplay , but that’s okay, we’re not here for that.

What counts here is the epic story of the characters: each has a specific purpose to accomplish. Driven by revenge and hatred, they will do anything to obtain justice. Because what brings together the worried heroes of Shadowplay is that they have all been victims of unparalleled cruelty.

A woman raped by Russian soldiers, a brother who was shot in cold blood, a kid whose parents were deported to Auschwitz: all respond to a different form of violence, sometimes themselves with violence, sometimes with pacifism.

Shadowplay , women on the front line

What marks, first on board, is that it is women who are the first victims of the violence that ravages Berlin in Shadowplay .

One of the heroines of the series, for example, is forced to have an abortion in miserable conditions after she is raped by Russian soldiers, who as a consolation throw a packet of cigarettes at her face while treating her of ” German whore ” when they are done with her.

We discover the face of this woman at the very beginning of the series, when she is drowning in tears and hiccups – this scene is undoubtedly one of the strongest of the Shadowplay pilot , because the camera is permanently aimed on Mala Emde’s eyes and cheeks, swollen with despair.

The distress of this protagonist, coupled with that of Elsie Garten and the other members of the police station, whose dark circles betray hunger and exhaustion, speaks volumes about what these women undergo on a daily basis, in this devastated Berlin.

The program, while primarily following a male hero, is careful to capture the stories of other victims of war. Those who did not know the weapons and the front, but the anger of those who went there.

Whether Russian, German or English, the monsters of Shadowplay are in any case fleshy men , consumed by hatred and ready to do anything to satisfy their desire for violence.

Shadowplay is great entertainment as the German channel ZDF knows so well how to create, whose content is sorely lacking in our audiovisual landscape. However, you will have to be a little indulgent with the characters, whose sometimes clumsy writing encloses them in caricatures.

But once the peace is made with the big clogs that the plot puts on from time to time, we spend a rather edifying moment of entertainment!