Deadly whale attacks, tremors caused by sea worms and a murderous invasion of eyeless crabs: "The Swarm" shows a revenge of the maltreated nature in large pictures and strong tracking shots. ZDF paid more than 40 million euros for this blockbuster series, so the broadcaster broke the previous German record of "Babylon Berlin".
This Monday at 8.15 p.m. the film adaptation of Frank Schätzing's bestseller can be seen in a 90-minute double episode in the second.
Attacks in quick succession
"The Swarm" shows how more and more marine and coastal regions in Canada, Peru, southern France, Scandinavia and other parts of the world are becoming the scene of mysterious natural phenomena. These usually have terrible consequences for the people on site - from shipwreck to poisoned drinking water. After a long, fairly quiet start-up phase, the series comes one after the other with nature's attacks. Marine scientists around the world are desperate to understand what is happening and contain the threat. Among other places, they start their investigations from Kiel in northern Germany.
The fact that the heroes also have time to flirt in between is a classic part of successful TV material. Schätzing, however, resented this change. In an interview with the weekly newspaper "Die Zeit", he drew a comparison to the ZDF romantic series "Rosamunde Pilcher": "It pilchers more than it raves."
Schätzing's core criticism of the series: "That it remains below its potential. Some things are ready for the cinema, others emotional and talkative relationship box TV." ZDF was not very happy about this scolding: "In a few days, the audience can get an impression of the quality of the international high-end production." The broadcaster added: "From our point of view, "The Swarm" is a very successful and contemporary adaptation of the novel from 2004." According to ZDF, film adaptations of literary material always and significantly differed from the book in terms of narrative form and dramaturgy.
Cliffhanger at the end of each episode
With the 1000-page opus, Schätzing presented a novel in 2004 that is still one of the most successful books ever written in Germany. As an "eco-thriller", the writer never wanted the "swarm" to be understood.
And maybe that's exactly the difference to the film version: while the Cologne author refined his novel with a number of scientific facts and explanations, the film version overwhelms the audience, especially with cinematic special effects under water, the horror of which reliably forms the cliffhanger at the end of each episode.
An excellent international cast of actors - from the German-speaking area, among others, Barbara Sukowa, Oliver Masucci and Leonie Benesch - carries the glossy series and should make successful marketing abroad much easier. As a viewer, however, you have to be able to concentrate quite a bit in order to keep track of all the characters - and all the individual, but ultimately intertwined storylines.
Producer: We are the monsters
Explaining his approach to the project, producer and showrunner Frank Doelger said: "It was crucial for me to envision the series as a 'monster movie', where the protagonists are aware that something is out there, but don't know exactly what what. The existence of the monster is supposed to be implied from the beginning but not revealed until the very end. A monster movie, then, where we realize we are the monsters."
In the ZDF media library, "Der Schwarm" started better than any other streaming series. The first episode reached 2.0 million views between February 22nd and March 1st. Episode two has been viewed 1.5 million times. Episode three reached 1.4 million views. More episodes of the eight-part series will be released gradually.