Hanna Season 1
Hanna is a series on Amazon Prime that is utterly unlike anything I’ve seen before. If you like character-based stories that have some action, but also have a mysterious backstory that is revealed as the show progresses, Hanna is something you should check out. You’ll find yourself immediately wanting to know more about the back story.
The entire show is set in Europe, and there are even a few scenes that are entirely in German with English subtitles, but I think you’ll find it very accessible despite the European feel.
My husband started watching Hanna one night, and I didn’t know anything about it. I was instantly drawn in and, though it was already bedtime, we ended up watching 3 episodes before we finally went to sleep.
So I’m going to give you a choice: you can stop reading right now if you want to take my word for it and start watching Hanna with no preconceived ideas at all. Or you can keep reading and I will tell you a bit more, without spoiling anything you won’t learn in the first half of the first episode. And after you’re done watching all 8 episodes, you can come back for my spoiler review (coming soon).
It’s a remake — but it’s not a remake
If you read reviews of Hanna, you’ll quickly learn it’s based on the movie by the same name from 2011. One of the movie’s writers, David Farr, was the creator and writer of the TV series, though the actors are all different. Many of the reviews make comparisons to the movie, which I’m not going to do since I haven’t seen the movie. But from what I understand, the show takes advantage of the longer format to go deeper into some things the movie couldn’t.
The movie doesn’t give you much of a clue about Hanna’s origin or why Erik Heller raised her in the wilderness and trained her the way he did. The show gives us many more details about that and hints at a bigger part of the mystery to be solved in season 2. So it’s much more than a remake, from what I can tell without having seen the movie.
If you’re sick of being heartbroken by TV shows being canceled after the first season, you will want to know that Amazon has renewed Hanna for season 2. It seems there is more story to be told.
You may know some of the actors
The two main adult characters are played by actors who will be familiar to anyone who watched The Killing on AMC: Joel Kinnaman and Mireille Enos. If you liked them in The Killing, you’ll find they play very different characters in Hanna. In this show, they are not partners but on opposite sides. Their skills as actors really shows, as they are able to become completely different characters for this show.
It took me a few minutes to even recognize Kinnaman, his character is that different. Kinnaman was born and raised in Sweden, and speaks both Swedish and English, so he may have found the accent his character speaks with easy to perform, but he did have to learn all of his German lines for the show since he’s not fluent in German. Between the accent and the beard he has for the first episode, he was almost unrecognizable.
The chemistry between these two actors, or the characters they play, is only a small part of the attraction of this show. The show is mainly about Hanna and her relationship with Erik, Joel Kinnaman’s character, who has raised her as his daughter.
But Hanna’s childhood has been anything but ordinary. In the first part of the first episode, you get a sense of how they lived in total isolation, how she learned not only how to survive on her own in the wilderness but how to defend herself and even kill anyone who might try to kill her. Because it’s clear that Erik believes they are in danger, and by the end of the first episode that is confirmed, though we’re left with a lot of questions.
One of the best parts
The mystery and the action scenes are very good, but the best part of the show is watching Hanna as she encounters the wider world. She’s been taught a lot of things a normal young girl would not be learning from her parents or in school, but she doesn’t know about candy or text messages or money, and she hasn’t learned to say please. She’s an extremely quick learner, though.
As the episodes progress, we are able to see new experiences through her eyes. Her emotions are fascinating as she tries to understand and make sense of the complexities of the world. People have called the show a coming-of-age drama, but it’s unique because she’s discovering the world and trying to uncover a mystery about herself at the same time. But just when you think you know how she’ll react, she surprises you. She is very much a teenager, in addition to whatever else she may be.
Other really great things about Hanna
There are several other really great things I can tell you about this show without giving away any spoilers:
- The music. There are two kinds of music and both seem very fitting to the show and the characters. There is a haunting theme that plays periodically and just seems to evoke the right kind of emotions for this story. Then there are the frenetic songs the teenagers listen to, both on phones and in clubs and parties. Presumably, Hanna has never heard music before — I don’t think they even had electricity. But she seems to enjoy the same kinds of music others of her age enjoy.
- The settings and scenery. As I said before, the entire show is set in Europe. There are scenes in a forest in Poland or Romania, a few scenes in Morocco, and many in Germany. Much of it was filmed in Budapest, however. The show’s creators picked many unusual-looking buildings in which to film, which added to the richness of the visuals. There are quite a variety of locations and each is stunning visually and also fits with the plot and the characters.
- The relationship between Erik and Hanna. This is complicated because he’s kept secrets from her, but ultimately their relationship is built on strong love and trust. Their relationship is really the heart of the story, and you as the viewer are getting to know each of them as Hanna is growing and learning about herself and about the world, so you experience her teenage rebelliousness and also question his motivations, but you’re rooting for both of them.
- Complicated, layered characters. Don’t expect a shining-white protagonist or a purely evil bad guy in this show. All of the characters have their grey areas and moral ambiguities. That is part of the fascination, trying to decide if a given character is a “good guy” or a “bad guy.” The good guys do some bad things, and the bad guys show that they are still human.
Come back soon for my spoiler review. Stuff happens in this show and you’re going to want to talk about it with someone once you’re done watching season 1.
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