1899’s Black Silence Plagiarism Controversy Explained

Warning: SPOILERS for 1899 Season 1.


Just a few days after its release, Netflix’s 1899 is accused of plagiarizing a titled graphic novel Black silence. Set against a colossal ship named Kerberos, 1899 brings to the table some ambitious and highly innovative sci-fi concepts in its first season. While it purposefully leaves many of its underlying mysteries unanswered to make room for a sequel, 1899 makes good use of its multilingual character list to drive home poignant themes around sexuality, grief, trauma and the frail nature of memories and identity.

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Though most viewers and critics have given positive reviews 1899‘s slow-burning drama and climactic ending, some have accused it of plagiarizing many narrative elements Black silence. Even the graphic novel’s author, Mary Cagnin, posted a Twitter thread to acknowledge the striking similarities between her story and the show. “I’M IN SHOCK. The day I found out that the 1899 series is identical to my Black Silence comic published in 2016,‘ she wrote in Portuguese (through Twitter). Upon closer examination, it turns out that the two stories do indeed share some similarities in terms of plot, imagery, and cast. However, there are also some key differences between the two. Here is 1899s Black silence plagiarism controversy fully explained.

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Similarities between 1899 and black silence

Emily Beecham's Mauram Fall in 1899

By showing parallel images of 1899 and Black silence, Mary Cagnin revealed how closely some of the show’s ideas resemble those in her graphic novel. For example, she handed out an image of a pyramid in a desert Dark silencewhich appears to be a recurring motif throughout 1899. She also stressed that all of the unexplained deaths in 1899Kerberos and Prometheus’s ships to the triangular symbols that appear in the characters’ eyes matches her storytelling tools in Black silence.

Cagnin further added that similar to 1899, her graphic novel also features diverse characters who come from different parts of the world and deal with personal dramas and mysterious deaths. She even pointed it out, like 1899‘s Captain Eyk, her characters hear strange voices calling out to them. Additionally, Black silence‘s story revolves around a post-apocalyptic mission in which a group of astronauts search for a habitable planet for the last of humanity. While Black silence‘s storyline seems worlds apart 1899‘s, the closing space scene of the Netflix sci-fi TV show hints that the show could be heading in a similar direction. As such, it’s perhaps understandable that Cagnin would notice the similarities between the two projects.

How 1899 differs from Black Silence

1899 Kerberos and Prometheus passengers

Despite all the similarities, it would be unfair to call 1899 a copy of Black silence as the show’s overarching plot has few common ground with Black silence. Black silence‘s cosmic horror storyline seems more in line with Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and John Carters The thing as it focuses on a space mission that goes horribly wrong after the passengers of its central spacecraft land on a mysterious planet. Season 1 of the Netflix sci-fi horror series, on the other hand, takes place primarily on a ship, only to eventually reveal that everything from the characters’ identities to the bleak setting in the middle of the ocean is just a construct in a simulation.

Even the supposed parallels between 1899 and Black silence seem accidental rather than intentional. For example, similar pyramid images can be seen in many other movies, such as The emptyness and Stargate. Even the triangular eye symbol has previously been used as a narrative device in Scott Sigler’s sci-fi novel, Infected. Not to mention various sci-fi shows like Sentence 8 also have multilingual international characters.1899‘s showrunners, Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar (also known for creating critically acclaimed Netflix time travel series Dark), have so far made no official comment on these allegations. Given the obvious differences between 1899 and Black silenceseems unlikely that the plagiarism claims will land the Netflix sci-fi TV show in serious trouble.

All episodes of 1899 are now available on Netflix

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