This text was originally broadcast by blackout published on Joyn in October 2021.
Three scenes, quickly edited: A November evening over Bolzano, the computer scientist Pierre Manzano is driving home in the car, below him, in the darkness of the valley, the city shines like an open chest full of precious stones. A roller coaster in an amusement park in Leipzig, father and son are looking forward to the looping ride. Frauke Michelsen, an employee of the Ministry of the Interior in Berlin, walks to the main train station to pick up her two daughters, who have been put on an ICE train by their grandparents in Hamburg. Suddenly the main station falls into darkness. Cut. The roller coaster gets stuck in the loop. Cut. Manzano rolls into Bozen when all the street lamps and traffic lights suddenly go out. At an intersection, he crashes into a truck. The camera moves high over the city, South Tyrol, Italy, Europe, you can see the contours of the continent in the glittering fringe of lights. And then, bang, bang, bang, one country outline after the other disappears in the darkness in a matter of seconds.
What happens if the electricity goes out? Not briefly, not locally, but throughout Europe, permanently. How much longer can something like peaceful normality be maintained? No more water, no petrol (must be pumped up from the tanks into the pumps), in all supermarkets there is no refrigeration, and there is no replenishment of groceries. The hospitals have emergency power generators, as do the nuclear power plants, but they can only be used for a few days, and how are the reactors then supposed to be cooled and the heart-lung machines kept running?
From the moment of the power failure, every life becomes exciting, because suddenly everything is at stake
Marc Elsberg has this scenario Declined in “Blackout” in 2012a thriller that was so well researched and so skillfully unpacked all the complex stuff involving circuit structures and their immense weaknesses that the magazine image of science voted the work the “most exciting knowledge book of the year”.
Basically, every life becomes exciting from the moment of the power failure, because suddenly everything is at stake. For each. Where else can you get food? Who’s freaking out? Who can you trust? Which is why a cliffhanger structure sets in almost automatically, which in turn calls for a film adaptation of the whole thing. You can now see them on Joyn, six parts in which you mainly follow Pierre Manzano through the rapidly progressing decay: Manzano realizes immediately that the whole thing must be an attack and wants to warn the police, who then suspect him and hunt him down.
The screenwriters Kai-Uwe Hasenheit and Lancelot von Naso have cleverly streamlined the 800 pages, and the whole thing is also excellently cast: Moritz Bleibtreu is pretty much perfect as a rough, honest Manzano who seems to have some connection to the terrorists, but hardly because of the sheer pursuit action ever has time to calmly explain what could have happened. Above all, however, it is an agonizing pleasure to watch Marie Leuenberger. She is played by Frauke Michelsen, who is appointed head of the crisis team at the moment when her small children stop on the ICE on the open route and now has to hide her motherly fears under the fury of the national rescue team. After all, all nuclear power plants continue to run in the background.
Blackout, Sat 1, every Thursday in double episodes, 8:15 p.m.
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