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The Kaisers is an award winning HBO series loosely based on the life of Wilhelm II. The series
features several prominent historic figures, including Wilhelm II, Wilhelm I, Otto von Bismarck, Napoleon III and many others. It stars Johnathan Rhys Meyers, Sam Neil, Tom Hanks, Rufus Sewell and many others. The show has been on air for two seasons and is about to release a third. It has won numerous Emmies, including Best Drama, Best Actor, and many others. The series has been praised as artfully depicting the life of the German nobility.
Season 1 begins with the birth of Wilhelm II and his declaration as Crown Prince. The series then progresses through his youth as he learns the complex politics of the various German states and into his role as his father's advisor. The first episodes show several factors which affect his emotional upbringing, such as his deformed left
arm and his relationships with other young royalty. The hostilities between France and Prussia are also shown to become greater and greater, and Otto von Bismarck is introduced as a character attempting to create war between Prussia and France as "the glue to stick the German people together. The season's climax occurs when Bismarck edits a conversation between the King of Prussia and the French Ambassador to make it appear they insulted each other. The season ends as Napoleon III marches to invade Prussia with the French Army.
Season 2Season 2 begins with the introduction of Napoleon III, who is shown to be an overambitious arrogant man who seeks to restore France to its former glory. The French quickly seize the town of Saarburken and the French set up their Base of Operations there. However, Napoleon is shocked to realize that the South German states who he viewed as his allies have instead allied with Prussia. However he still orders to press on the attack..
Meanwhile Wilhelm II and Bismarck both set out with the German military to oversee the military operations. They witness a string of German victories and the disastrous Battle of Sedan, which ends with the capture of Napoleon III and over 100,000 of his troops. Bismarck sits to talk with Napoleon as Wilhelm inspects the French troops, who are starving and haggard.
The war finally ends after Paris is captured, and Napoleon III is deposed as the French Third Republic is born. Bismarck finally succeeds in uniting the German states under one banner: the German Empire. At the Hall of Mirrors Wilhelm I is crowned the first German Emperor (Kaiser). The season ends as the camera zooms in on Wilhelm I and his son and Bismarck on each side of him as various German nobility shout "Long live the Emperor!"
Season 3 is scheduled to come out on March 4th and has reportedly been "one of the best seasons in the history of entertainment." Many, however, have protested a television show focusing on the Great War, as Germans and Americans both feel that their side will be insulted. Spielberg has stated: "My American citizenship nor my German heritage will affect the show. It is from a neutral third party's perspective."
The series received incredibly positive reception, getting a 95% on Rottentomatoes. Both German and American critics have praised it as being one of the best historic shows on television. The show's pilot had a record breaking 18 million watching and season two's premier had a record 25 million. The show has won numerous Emmies, such as Best Actor, Best Drama and many others.
- John Rhyes Meyers as Wilhelm II: An ambitious young German Prince who has been groomed to become the next King of Prussia. He is desperate to become a good leader and not be shoved aside as a constitutional monarch. He is serious and very dedicated to Germany, however he is also shown to be playful and sometimes childish. After his father is inaugurated as Emperor of Germany he becomes destined to become the next Emperor.
- Tom Hanks as Otto Von Bismarck: An aging German statesman who seeks to unify German (and achieves it) to make it a strong nation. He constantly clashes with Wilhelm II over German national policy and does not respect Wilhelm II at all. He is shown to be a gentle yet strong man who is dedicated to preserving Germany.
- Rufus Sewell as Napoleon Bonaparte III: A young arrogant man who leads a coup in France to restore the Bonaparte Family to the throne, he seeks to make France strong again. He is overconfident in his and France's abilities and is eventually captured by the Germans but treated very cordially.