It’s society versus immigrants in Amazon’s ‘Carnival Row’

‘Carnival Row’ – Outsiders feared in Amazon fantasy series

Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne star in “Carnival Row,” premiering Friday on Amazon.

Someone is killing the faeries of The Burgue and Rycroft Philostrate is determined to put a stop to it.

As played by Orlando Bloom (the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies) in the Amazon fantasy series “Carnival Row,” which begins streaming Friday, Aug. 30, he’s a detective in a fantastical Victorian world in which humans coexist uneasily with mythological immigrant creatures whose exotic homelands were invaded by the empires of man. In this society, these winged faeries are second-class citizens, indentured servants forbidden to live, love or fly with freedom.

One of them is Vignette Stonemoss (Cara Delevingne, “Paper Towns”), with whom the human Philo had a passionate affair. Thinking he’d been killed years earlier, she still carries a torch for him but is at-first indignant to learn he’s still alive. Now as they rekindle their dangerous relationship, he must embark on his most important case yet: to investigate a string of gruesome murders threatening the peace on Carnival Row.

And that setting, a grimy, grubby city street resembling something out of a Dickens novel and populated by soldiers, hawkers, police and prostitutes, was created in Prague. Here, the attention to detail is painstaking, which impressed the actors and made the story come alive for them, as they told a recent gathering of journalists in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne star in “Carnival Row,” premiering Friday on Amazon.

“I honestly want them to make some sort of theme park,” Delevingne says, “or – I wanted people to come visit me all the time, because just walking through those sets – no matter how cold it was in Prague – was the visceral, you could smell and hear, and just every room and every corner of everything had something.”

“But there was the dead pig head on set,” Bloom adds, “that was stinking because it was rotting. It was actual dead pig heads (that had thawed out). … I’ve been on some amazing sets over the years, and you know, ‘Lord of the Rings’ was always talked about for its authenticity. And nothing has really come close to it since I walked down the Row.”

In this world, the “fays,” as they’re called, are immigrants or refugees looking to settle into a new society that doesn’t readily accept them, looks down on them and sees them as subhumans to be enslaved. All of this can be easily seen as an allegory for what’s happening today, as Bloom notes.

“I think there’s so much fear in the world today,” the English actor says, “about the idea of refugees, migrants coming into society. What are they going to do to our society? How are they going to take jobs, drugs, thieving, whatever the preconceived notion is? … And whilst it’s a fantasy world and these characters are fantastical, it’s so human, it’s so real, it’s so tangible you can’t not get the message. You can’t not look at it and take something away from it. And that’s the gift.”

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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