Mark has a turbulent family history: As a young boy, he had to watch how his father died in a fire he started. He was considered insane, possessed of hallucinations. When Mark receives a mysterious book from his brother for his 16th birthday, he discovers that maybe his father wasn’t so crazy after all. Because behind the book hides a secret world: The Black tower. There the griffin rules, a monster that keeps all other living creatures as slaves in a regime of terror. Actually, Mark (Jeremias Meyer) has no desire to play the hero role. But when his brother disappears, he has to act.
The Fantasy Series hollow leg – The griffin from Amazon Prime adapts the bestselling novel of the same name by Wolfgang and Heike Hohlbein from 1989. For the six-part series, the setting was moved to 1995. As a result, the series with its overhead projectors, typewriters and Nirvana records looks a bit like the German one StrangerThings at .
A prestige project that looks surprisingly good for a German production
Fantasy films from German production? That’s actually not exactly a selling point. In fact, however, Amazon Prime has not been stingy with this fantasy adaptation, which is intended as a prestige project. The rocky setting, the stone creature design and the effects are surprisingly good, especially for a German production, and maybe even the most successful of the series.
Apart from that, however, the series has some shortcomings. The roles are written in clichéd terms – the neglected rich woman, the underdog with depth, the new kid at school who condemns the “cool kids”. Their conflicts are touched upon but not really penetrated and fail to connect seamlessly with the creepy parallel world. While the series is surprisingly brutal, especially in the fantasy scenes, in the real world it quickly degenerates into exaggerated teenage film kitsch. Above all, the dialogues often seem unnatural, written solely to advance the plot.
Unfortunately, the cast is also weak: the young actors in particular are unable to convey their conflicts in a credible manner. The series is carried more by the adults in the supporting roles such as Sabine Timoteo, who as Mark’s mother embodies her doubts and fears very tangibly.
At hollow leg – The griffin blends coming-of-age series with spooky fantasy. A German StrangerThings however, did not result from this. It remains to be hoped that it will at least open the door for further film adaptations from the hitherto almost untouched German fantasy literature.
Hohlsbeins – The Griffin, on Amazon Prime
SZ series recommendations can be found here.