Oktoberfest Beer and Blood Serves Up German Debauchery in Six Episodes

By Raul Quinque

 

My Tent is My Cas­tle, or, How a Volks­fest Out­grew its Roots. Cred­it: Okto­ber­fest 2013 — Munich Ger­many by Shut­ter­bug Fotos

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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