“Vision” introduces two rivalrous families, a doomed love, and a bloody murder, as the plan to expand Oktoberfest begins.
This recap of Oktoberfest: Beer & Blood episode 1, “Vision”, contains spoilers.
We’re told in the opening of “Vision”, in which a native tribe huddles around a fire after discovering a severed head, that what we’re watching is based on true events. We’re then transported back three months in time, to the Easter of 1900, where Curt Prank, with the aid of some brief and ominous flashbacks and some grandiose imaginings, details his plans for expanding Oktoberfest. He wants a fortress, six thousand seats, with construction beginning in three months’ time, regardless of the commissioner’s reluctance. But the commissioner, Urban, relatively new to the position, doesn’t have a leg to stand on. See, Curt has his ******* child, fathered with a mistress, frolicking in his garden. He wouldn’t want that kid calling him daddy in front of his wife now, would he?
This excellent opening established, we meet Curt’s daughter, Clara, and learn that Urban and Prank are trying to price out the current owners of Prank’s desired lots by hiking the rent up to absurd figures. But the stubborn Hoflinger family won’t be moved so easily. We’re quickly introduced to that family’s patriarch, Ignatz, who has bought a couple of hookers from the local madame for his two sons, the charismatic Roman and the shy, artistic Ludwig. He’s approached with what we’re to understand is the latest of several offers for his brewery, and he tells the salesman, Glogauer, where to go.
Back at the Prank estate, we also meet Colina Kandl, a curious red-haired woman who finesses her way into an interview for the position of Clara’s chaperone and poses as Curt’s made-up wife in order to scare off the other applicants. She’s promptly employed and is set to accompany Clara wherever she goes, much to the girl’s displeasure, but we get the sense very early that Prank is determined to deny his daughter any real agency anyway: He wants her to be introduced to Munich’s high society and married off to a wealthy suitor. Prank’s path into the upper-crust runs through Mrs. Brockmann, who’s initially reticent until she finds her beloved cat, Franz Ferdinand, dead beside her bed.
“Vision” also gives us a sense of meek Ludwig’s artistic ambitions — he’s determined to pursue art at the academy, clearly disinterested with the family business. But the pursuit of the arts is seen as something of a toff endeavour, not the done thing for blue-collar boys like him. Clara is similarly looked down upon by the rich folks she encounters at the soiree, including the creepy Anatol Stifter; it’s probably telling of Prank’s ambitions that he believes Clara being unsubtly threatened is her acting like “a woman of the night”.
Unlike Ludwig, Roman Hoflinger is focused pretty much exclusively on the expansion of the family business, almost to a fault — at least as far as Ignatz is concerned. The older man is a traditionalist and doesn’t want to face the fiscal realities that’ll force them to export their beer abroad and not hold firm to the classic ways of brewing that Roman believes are rapidly becoming outdated.
Now seems as good a time as any to mention that Oktoberfest has been quite explicitly made with an international audience in mind. You see it in a late montage, and in the fact that the English dub is all Brummy accents, to evoke Peaky Blinders. The plot, too, hits the big beats of ill-fated romance, warring factions, and a sea change in history, and many of those things come together as “Vision” draws to a close. Clara blackmails Colina into taking her to a party, while Ignatz is once again confronted by Glogauer and his dog, who informs him that his client will only accept his refusal to have his debts absorbed personally. At the party, Clara meets — who else? — Roman and they hit it off immediately. While they sneak off together and have sex, Ignazt is hung by Glogauer, who’s able to free himself from the noose only to have his head ripped off by his dog. This messy climax jumbles up close-up shots of Ignatz being eaten, Glogauer pulling a knife from his leg, and Clara and Roman having sex to create a weird medley of conflicting emotions and events. But at least we find out where the tribe got that head.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.