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Is Netflix’s 1899 Based on a True Story? The Mystery Behind ‘Ghost Ships’ Explored

Netflix’s latest mystery-horror outing, 1899, has been able to keep the viewers hooked to their screens. The series, created by Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar, the co-creators of the mega-hit German show Dark, has generated immense curiosity among the audiences for its story.

1899 follows immigrants on board a ship travelling to America in the hope of starting a new life. They come across a distress signal from another ship that was reported to be sunk several months ago. Fans are now wondering if the show is based on a true story of a ghost ship. If you, too, have the same question in mind, continue reading.

Is Netflix’s 1899 Based on a True Story?

1899 is not based on a true story. However, the showrunners have revealed that a number of recent real events inspired them to come up with a central theme for the show. Speaking in an interview in 2021, Jantje Friese said, “The whole European angle was very important for us, not only story wise but also the way we were going to produce it.”

“Being true to the cultures and the languages was really important, we never wanted to have characters from different countries but everyone speaks English. It really had to be a European collaboration, not just cast but also crew.”

“We felt that with the past years of Europe being on the decline, we wanted to give a counterpoint to Brexit, and to nationalism rising in different countries, to go back to that idea of Europe and Europeans working and creating together,” she added.

The Real ‘Ghost Ships’ Story

While the plot of 1899 is fictional, the story of the ghost ships that mysteriously disappeared in the ocean is very real and can be called the inspiration behind the show’s premise. Throughout history, there have been several incidents of vessels going missing, especially in alleged mysterious regions like the Bermuda Triangle.

In the 19th century, two ships were reported to have disappeared in the Arctic Ocean, which are now termed ‘ghost ships’. In 1845, the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror set out for a voyage with 129 men onboard. However, both the ships became icebound, and the crew died from starvation and hypothermia in the forthcoming months.

A Ship Named Prometheus Did Exist in 1899

The show features two ships: the vessel containing the migrants, Kerberos, and the vessel thought to be lost, Prometheus. Interestingly, a ship named HMS Prometheus did actually exist in 1899. It was a cruiser owned by the British Royal Navy, that was launched in 1898. However, the ship was not built for commercial purposes, and neither did it disappear.

Instead, it served the navy till 1914 and was later sold. As for Kerberos, there has been no mention of such a ship in history. Both Prometheus and Kerberos’ names are taken from Greek mythology, so it is possible that the creators took inspiration from the folklore in naming the ships.

All episodes of 1899 Season 1 are now streaming on Netflix. For more news and updates from the entertainment world, keep watching this space.

A passionate writer who loves to cover Pop Culture, Celebs, Films and TV shows. When not writing, you can find me trekking, singing, and binge-watching.


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