Amazon's The Man in the High Castle was an outstanding piece of work, but after 10 episodes the underlying plot device is disturbingly unexplained. Are there any theories for:

  1. The films? Only two are in play during the first season. Are they anything other than MacGuffins? After the brief teaser in the first episode it's not until the last two episodes that we learn the films show possible futures or alternative pasts ... and that different viewers see different things. There is never any explanation of why the Nazis and the Resistance think they are of paramount value, especially because all operatives are instructed to never view the films.

  2. The title? Is Hitler supposed to be "the man in the high castle?"

The most coherent explanation I can put together is that Hitler has not only managed to collect a library of these magic films but also to understand how to use them to control the future. Therefore, he is in fact the one who releases the two films that drive the plot of the entire season, and he must have done so knowing that they would result in outcomes he desired. But the only perceptible tactical effect of releasing the films is to create a patsy (Frank Fink) for the attempted assassination of the Japanese prince. They have no strategic effect.

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    It does not appear to be the case that different people see different things.
    – OrangeDog
    Jan 23, 2017 at 13:54

1 Answer 1


Some knowledge of the book may give a greater understanding.

Clearly the plots do not directly follow each other, and the most obvious difference is that in the book, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is a book, whereas in the series it is a series of motion pictures*. However, if we assume the central premise is the same then

the world portrayed is a fiction, and the films exist to reveal to the characters that they are not real

In such an interpretation, it does not really matter who "the man" is, or what the in-universe motivations are.

On the other hand, I believe there is not intended to be a definitive answer and the audience is free to come to their own conclusions. Your own explanation is perfectly reasonable, but I prefer one based on a multiverse theory of realities, where the films slip through from other realities

like Tagomi does in the final scene

and Hitler is "the man" (his residence is the only thing presented that could qualify as a literal "high castle") collecting them in order to understand the various possibilities and steer history to his design.

*Crucially, it is the same medium in which story is presented to us.

As of season two, we have definitive answers. The films

are brought from other worlds by individuals (such as Tagomi and Kotomishi) who are able to travel via meditation. The leaders of the Nazis and the Resistance are trying to find one that shows how to avoid nuclear Armageddon.

The Man in the High Castle

is Hawthorne Abendsen, a leader of the West Coast resistance, who maintains a large collection of films

it appears that their strategy is exactly as you describe.

Season three explores these mechanics and the Nazi endgame in greater detail.

  • The Man in the High Castle does not refer to someone in a certain place, but one that occupies both his conscious and unconcsious mind. This character himself gives this explanation in Season 2.
    – nilon
    Jan 26, 2017 at 17:45
  • @nilon that may be true, but it also refers to the character himself. No other character, when referring to "The Man" means someone else.
    – OrangeDog
    Jan 26, 2017 at 17:46
  • I agree. The Man in the High Castle is a character. Why does it seem there is a point to disagree?
    – nilon
    Jan 26, 2017 at 17:53
  • @nilon It seemed like your comment was disagreeing. That "The Man" could refer to any number of characters.
    – OrangeDog
    Jan 26, 2017 at 17:54
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    Also even though Hitler is not THEE Man in the High Castle, he is a man in a high castle also interested in the films, which makes him a juxtaposition to Hawthorn and the concept, as it's a way to refer to what "power" really is. Feb 21, 2019 at 18:55

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