Three globetrotters at the right time: The successful remake of Jules Verne’s classic “Around the World in 80 Days” as an eight-part series from today (December 21, 2021) on ZDF.
“Why are you traveling around the world in exactly 80 days?”, The beautiful Indian Aouda (Shivaani Ghai) asks the British eccentric Phileas Fogg (David Tennant). His laconic answer is: “To see that it is possible! A friend bet against me. There is no deeper motivation. ”Oh yes! Phileas Fogg is a master of understatement. And David Tennant is the best actor to date to portray the world-famous character of Jules Verne (February 8, 1828 in Nantes – March 24, 1905 in Amiens), a visionary writer in every respect. He makes few words, prefers to let actions speak for themselves. But when he expresses himself in more detail – usually this happens without being asked – it has hands, feet and heads. The 50-year-old Scot was already the best “Doctor Who” in television history – alongside his successor Peter Capaldi, of course.
Shortly before Christmas, from today (December 21, 2021) on ZDF, where four episodes of the new series “Around the World in 80 Days” will be shown one after the other, he will prove that he can not only have the future but also the past. On the two following days, there will be the provisional rest with two episodes each from 10:15 p.m. Because although David Tennant as Phileas Fogg a second before the deadline expires, his long-believed lost bet – by crossing the date line to the east, you have a whole day won – but still wins, it is already clear that the second joint project of the European Alliance, which is an amalgamation of the public broadcasters Rai, France Télévisions and ZDF, but also the production companies Federation Entertainment, Seven West Media and Slim Film + Television needed for the realization, will have a second season.
“Around the world in 80 days” from today (December 21, 2021) on ZDF: There will be a second season
The reinterpretation of the novel “Le Tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours” (German: “Journey around the earth in 80 days”, also known as “The rescue of the Maharani”, and “The race of Phileas Fogg”, published in 1873), also 1873) is full of action on ZDF, but not unbelievable, diverse, but historically largely correct, humorous, but not plaintive. And it comes exactly at the right time, when traveling in times of the Covid-19 pandemic is again a difficult adventure today. Director Steve Barron began making music videos for British new wave bands such as The Jam, Adam & the Ants, The Human League, OMD and Heaven 17 in the late 1970s. This was later followed by clips for Toto (“Africa”), Tears for Fears (“Mad World”), Madonna (“Burning Up”), Michael Jackson (“Billie Jean”) and Rod Stewart (“Baby Jane”). For “Take On Me” by a-ha he won the directorial award at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards. Full of musicality, his protagonists in “Around the World in 80 Days” move from today (December 21, 2021) on ZDF through the exotic locations and elaborate backdrops. The rhythmically driving soundtrack of the Frankfurt-born Oscar winner Hans Zimmer (“The Lion King”) and the Swede Christian Lundberg also rushes Phileas Fogg and his two companions around the globe.
In the case of the latter, we are already at the greatest changes in contrast to the literary model: Fix falls in love one after another with Fogg’s servant Passepartout. But anyone who thinks that the overzealous detective who thinks Fogg wants to leave the Bank of England after a robbery is homoerotically inclined is seriously mistaken. In the 2021 ZDF version, which is set in 1872, Fix is not a man, but a young journalist who wants to prove it to herself in a (still) male-dominated world! She is embodied by Leonie Benesch from Hamburg (“The White Ribbon – A German Children’s Story”, “Babylon Berlin” *). And Passepartout (Ibrahim Kona) is still Fogg’s French servant, but he has African ancestry. In the course of the turbulent plot, which is not exactly poor in hardships and dangers, which takes our three globetrotters from London to Paris, then through the desert to Aden and from there via India and Hong Kong to the Wild West, until they return to the starting point, he wins not only the heart of the lovely white womanhood, which causes a tangible scandal, but also becomes Fogg’s pretty best friend.
“Around the world in 80 days” from today (December 21, 2021) on ZDF: reinterpretation of the novel published in 1873
However, this really existed under a different name: The American businessman and writer George Francis Train (March 24, 1829 in Boston, Massachusetts – January 5, 1904 in New York) was the model for Jules Verne’s novel. His first, much-noticed trip around the world in 1870 took him from New York by train (so his last name was a program) to San Francisco. From there he reached Japan with a sailing ship. In the land of the rising sun, he caused an outcry by jumping naked in a public bath. However, the incident had no consequences for Train. From Hong Kong he then went to Saigon and Singapore. With a ship he crossed the Suez Canal. Marseille was the next stopover. For reasons that can no longer be fully reconstructed today, he was imprisoned in Lyon for 13 days. Perhaps he owed this to a miscarriage of justice, like his literary alter ego Fogg in Verne’s later. After his release, he traveled to the English Channel by private train. Renewed voyages by ship finally brought him back to New York via Liverpool, where he arrived exactly after 80 days. His second trip around the world in 1890 lasted 67.5 days; He undertook his third and last trip around the world in 1892. It lasted 60 days. His companion was usually George Pickering Bemis, his cousin and private secretary, later mayor of Omaha, Nebraska. Train was angry about “his” name and character change in Jules Verne’s novel. His defiant last words were therefore supposedly: “I am Phileas Fogg!”
This true eccentric was – here the reinterpretation comes full circle with David Tennant – by the way, also a women’s rights activist. He financed the early emancipatory newspaper “The Revolution” by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. That’s why the script, on which nine different authors wrote, is not completely out of thin air. Except for the slightly over-constructed episode 1, in which Passepartout’s brother Gerard (Loic Djani) wants to shoot the French president for reasons of “freedom, equality, fraternity” and in the end dies himself, the individual episodes are coherent. In episode 4, for example, the tables are turned: Not Fogg saves Aouda. Rather, it saves the sick with an antidote through a nerve poison that the travel-weary Passpartout – without anticipating the consequences – has administered to his master. Kneedling (Anthony Flanegan), a henchman of Fogg’s supposedly best friend and opponent Bellamy (Peter Sullivan), is doing everything to ensure that the trip around the world should take longer than 80 days. In the novel, Fogg finally marries the Parsian widow Aouda, who, according to Sati custom, was to be burned at the stake by a Brahmin religious sect while she was alive with her dead husband. It will be interesting to see whether the English gentleman will get them in season 2 or his childhood sweetheart Estella (Dolly Wells), whom he once abandoned out of cowardice.
“Around the world in 80 days” from today (December 21, 2021) on ZDF: An animated film is also to come into the cinemas
Of the real-life films since 1913 (the prelude was made by Willy Zeyn senior, now lost German silent film “The Hunt for the Hundred Pound Note or The Journey Around the World”), the new version with its epic form is the best so far, even if the all-star studded, with five Oscars, classic cinema by Michael Anderson and John Farrow from 1956 was better photographed in the then revolutionary Todd-AO recording process for 70mm widescreen films (camera: Lionel Lindon). David Tennant is reserved, but not as unemotional as David Niven. Even the scary-looking Conrad Veidt (1919), the slippery Pierce Brosnan (1989) and the mediocre Steve Coogan (2004) do not compete with Tennant’s complex role design by Phileas Fogg.
The most faithful cinematographic adaptation to this day is the 70-part puppet film “Around the World in 80 Days” * by Gerhard Behrendt (April 3, 1929 in Caputh near Potsdam – September 26, 2006 in Berlin), the inventor of the “East Sandman “. Amazingly, this legendary series was shown in the evening program in 1972 as part of the western edition of the Sandman. Jules Verne’s criticism of civilization and society is of course not an issue here, rather the plot is prepared as an exciting fairy tale with the usual stereotypes (hero, friend, princess, villain). Elaborately and detailedly designed, with the dialogues being spoken by a narrator from the off, it would have long deserved a re-broadcast in KiKA. The end of the flagpole has not yet been reached with the ZDF series “Around the World in 80 Days”: In 2022, as far as Omikron is gracious, an animated film by Samuel Tourneux will be released in the cinemas by Phileas Fogg cheeky explorer frog and passepartout a marmoset dreaming of adventures is … (Marc Hairapetian) * fr.de and giessener-allgemeine.de are part of IPPEN.MEDIA.