What would Germany be without the Oktoberfest? Definitely not worse off, I’d say. Under most circumstances, I couldn’t be tempted to watch a historical drama series with the Oktoberfest as a backdrop, but the Munich Wiesn innkeepers’ irate responses to the series have piqued my interest. Apparently, they feel that the Wiesn is hallowed ground and that its past and present virtue must not be disgraced. So lo and behold and without further ado, I present Oktoberfest Beer and Blood.
Originally broadcast in September 2020 by German national television as Oktoberfest 1900, Netflix picked up the six-part miniseries and added the gaudy subtitle: Beer and Blood. Despite its apparent vulgarity, the new moniker befits the series’ unapologetic dramatization of the trailblazing developments around Oktoberfest at the turn of the 20th century.
The premise: A Franconian proprietor plans to expand far beyond the traditionally allotted space for one beer tent, envisioning a veritable beer castle, Bierburg, which is home to extravagant entertainment and rituals that keep their clientele intoxicated. Naturally, this business model aggravates both the conservative Munich administrators and the small, endangered, and independent breweries.
The grandiose pictures as well as the magnificent atmosphere are a pleasure to witness, and yet it’s not all the miniseries has to offer. The personal fates of the diverse characters make for a delightful emotional roller coaster, and the authentic costumes and scenery complete the verdict of “well worth a watch.” Oktoberfest Beer and Blood is not a documentary (though a documentary was indeed produced to contextualize the fictional account). And it doesn’t present itself as such, a fact that appears to elude certain contemporary Oktoberfest advocates. Instead, it’s a fun, well-produced take on an unexpected piece. So Prost to that!
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