Frank Schätzing is actually supposed to be involved in the TV adaptation of his successful novel "The Swarm". But because of differences in content, he gets out of the project. Now the series is finished, it will be broadcast soon. However, the author does not leave her a good hair.
With "Der Schwarm" Frank Schätzing created a science fiction thriller that was successful 19 years ago. ZDF has now taken the 2004 novel as the basis for an eight-part series that is to be broadcast in prime time from March 6th. However, the author himself has little left for the production, as Schätzing spoke to the weekly newspaper "Die Zeit".
In the interview, the 65-year-old pulls from the leather, the series is narratively "fundamentally wrong", "cobbled together nonsense" and "without current relevance". The Cologne writer further explains: "Some things are ready for the cinema, other touching and talkative relationship box TV. It pilchers more than it raves. Good cast of actors, but underchallenged."
But that's not all. The "global dimension of the threat is not noticeable, not to mention the topicality or an intelligent alien strategy," says Schätzing. "One should have trusted the narrative of the novel more, the maximum escalation of the thriller," he concludes.
Schätzing finds clear words about his collaboration with the production team around Frank Doelger. At the beginning he was still part of the team, but then he withdrew due to differences in content.
Doelger had previously acted as a producer on "Game of Thrones". "In the end he wanted to tell the 'swarm' on his own, just according to his ideas," says Schätzing about him in the "Zeit" interview. "I got out hoping that the result would still impress me. Don't do it," he adds.
Roughly speaking, both the book and the series ask what happens when nature strikes back. In various regions of the world, the sea suddenly seems to pose an indefinite danger. A handful of international scientists see a larger connection between the events and put forward a thesis that shakes the very foundations of civilization: Out there, at great depths, there is intelligent life older and more powerful than humanity and now fighting back begins...
The international cast includes Leonie Benesch, Barbara Sukowa, Oliver Masucci, Klaas Heufer-Umlauf and Franziska Weisz. Ahead of Schätzing's criticism, Doelger, the series' producer and showrunner, said of the project: "I also realized how difficult it would be to condense the 900-page exploration of the natural phenomena that drive the story into a compelling, character-centric series to transform."
For him, according to Doelger, it was crucial "that I imagined the series as a 'monster film' in which the protagonists are aware that something is lurking out there, but don't know exactly what". The monster's existence was to be "hinted at from the beginning, but not revealed until the very end".
Doelger summed it up: "A monster film, then, in which we realize that we are the monsters. That was the challenge we set ourselves." A challenge that, in Schätzing's opinion, he and his team have now failed at.