1899 Is Being Accused Of Plagiarism

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The Netflix series 1899 has some uncanny similarities to a Brazilian comic book, Black Silence.

By Jonathan Klotz
| Published

Netflix’s latest paranormal multilingual series, 1899, is facing accusations that it is plagiarizing the Brazilian comic Black Silence. Distractify reported on the similarities through translations of Black Silence creator, Mary Cagnin’s Portuguese Twitter account. While a supernatural historical series is not new ground, the specific imagery involved in the Netflix series has direct counterparts to the Brazilian comic, yet there is further debate online over the debt both creative works owe to H.P. Lovecraft.

1899, like Black Silence, follows a multinational crew on a ship traveling along the route of another ship that mysteriously disappeared. within the first episode, it is clear that the relatively straight-forward, turn-of-the-century historical setting has something insidious just beneath the surface, tied into the appearance of a black pyramid. Cagnin starts noting the similarities between the two creative works with the distinctive pyramid, which plays a prominent part in Black Silence.

Mary Cagnin stated that “It’s all there: The Black Pyramid. The deaths inside the ship/ship. The multinational crew. The apparently strange and unexplained things. The symbols in the eyes and when they appear. ” Viewers of the Netflix series can confirm that 1899 and Black Silence share the same things as listed by Cagnin, though they differ in the details. The Brazilian artist has an explanation for those differences and even a theory has to how the German-developers of the Netflix show were exposed to her comic book.

Emily Beecham in 1899 (Netflix)

As pointed out by Mary Cagnin, 1899 is a streaming series that covers eight hours while Black Silence is a short story. In adapting her story, the 1899 creators, Jantje Friese and Baran Bo Odar, have the time to add extra details and changes in how material is interpreted from page to screen. That being said, the artist included in her Twitter thread that even the personal drama and mysterious deaths of the ship’s passengers match up with her previous work.

1899 comes from Germany, similar to the other Netflix series by the same creators, Dark, while Black Silence is Brazilian, so how did they cross paths? Mary Cagnin was part of the Gothenburg Book Fair in Germany, bringing with her translated copies of her comic while also sitting on panels to discuss her work. Despite the potential for cross-pollination of ideas and concepts, fans of 1899 and the historical paranormal genre in general, have also pointed out the similarities both works bear to the stories by author H.P. Lovecraft.

A boat, or spaceship, encountering strange, unexplained phenomenon has been the plot of previous films The Void and Event Horizon, both of which were influenced by the works of Lovecraft. 1899 and Black Silence, in their use of a black pyramid and otherworldly coded messages, both share creative DNA with Lovecraft works such as The White Ship and the genre-defining The Call of Cthulhu. When writing turn-of-the-last-century supernatural fiction involving a world that seems normal on the surface, but includes a dark sense of terror and foreboding, it is difficult to not take from the same well of Lovecraftian source material.