“The Terror”: Imperialist Insanity at its Most Artistic

In Uncategorized on May 17, 2018 at 00:27

“The Terror” is an AMC show (10 episodes) about a 1845 British expedition in search of a Northwest passage from England to China and India through the Arctic. It is a fictionalized account of a historical trip into the Arctic of the British vessels the Erebus and Terror. Following incomplete charts from previous missions into the Arctic, they travel into the frozen north. Sounds dull, right? Wrong. The Terror lives up to its title and then some. 

The Terror new

The Terror features an obsessed captain, John Franklin, that Captain Ahab might tell to chill out. He is so insecure that he risks the lives of two ships full of seamen just to prove he’s worthy of a favorable position in the naval hierarchy. The British Empire of the 19th Century didn’t worry about sending men off to die if it meant glory for the crown, and the ventures of the ships Erebus and Terror is no different. 

The cast is excellent and the dialogue is some of the best I have heard on TV since “The Wire.” Like ‘The Wire’, ‘The Terror’ uses colloquial language specific to the time and culture, 1840s British naval vessels in the Arctic. The language is effective in setting tone and creating character. 

The actors who play the three captains are varied and compelling in their own way. Each captain is unique and that leads to his demise or survival on the journey. However, they aren’t the only characters that make the show work. Cornelius Hickey,  Lady Silence, and Harry Goodsir are some of the most compelling characters among many that inhabit the show. 

The three directors for the ten episodes of season one (I have no idea if there will be a season two, and there is no need for one) make spectacular use of the Arctic back drop, the ships (inside and out) and the campsites to create a stunning backdrop for the terror that ensues. 

There is plenty of foreshadowing in The Terror, but how it plays out is fascinating. The darkness, the cold, the stark landscapes, makes the crew mad and ill with unknown ailments. Like all good horror shows, we are never certain what will happen to the characters, even though we assume it’s not going to be good. 

The Terror is a tale of desperation and hope, of death and glory, of obsession and survival. It shows how far a nation will go, England, and how many lives they will risk for money and fame. The brutality of the British in ‘The Terror’ should be a lesson to all of the people in the U.S. who support conquest and torture and venturing where we aren’t wanted into hostile and unknown territory. 

Rating: Pay Full Price
It’s compelling and if you like horror and history, doubly so. 

Tex Shelters

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