‘Oktoberfest: Beer and Blood’ Preview: German limited series partly based on actual history of beer festival

The show follows Nuremberg brewer Curt Prank (Mišel Matičević), as he plans to steal five stalls at Oktoberfest. While Prank never existed, there is historical evidence of a man called Georg Lang, who had ambitious dreams that ultimately changed the game


                            ‘Oktoberfest: Beer and Blood’ Preview: German limited series partly based on actual history of beer festival
Mišel Matičević (Das Erste)

‘Oktoberfest: Beer & Blood’, the upcoming German limited series about the world’s largest beer festival at the turn of the century and the politics of rival beer merchants is already garnering excitement.   

‘Oktoberfest: Beer & Blood’ tells the story of the struggle between two beer dynasties for supremacy at the world's largest festival in a complex and opulent manner. The show follows Nuremberg brewer and restaurateur Curt Prank (Mišel Matičević), as he plans to steal five stalls at the Oktoberfest with the help of the henchman Glogauer (Martin Feifel) and the Munich city councilor Alfons Urban (Michael Kranz); for Prank wants to build a beer castle that could host 6,000 guests -- 20 times the size of the usual beer stalls at Oktoberfest.

The story also revolves around Prank's daughter Clara (Mercedes Müller) who falls in love with Roman Hoflinger (Klaus Steinbacher), the son of Ignatz Hoflinger (Francis Fulton-Smith), owner of the small, traditional Deibel brewery -- the only person who refuses to sell his beer stall to Prank. The show promises to take the audience into a fantastic and mysterious Munich at the turn of the century. In this place full of history and stories, the multipart drama unfolds a modern myth about fateful love and the unstoppable rise of capitalism. 

The show’s trailer paints a vivid picture as we see very ‘Peaky Blinders’ like visuals in a setting that more resembles ‘Boardwalk Empire’. And along with the premise, it makes for a very promising watch. But is it rooted in real history?

According to the Oktoberfest Guide, there is some merit to the story’s premise, if not all of it. Even though an Oktoberfest host by the name of Curt Prank never existed, there is historical evidence of a man called Georg Lang. Lang was an innkeeper who gained some fame in his Franconian home town of Nuremberg. Despite being a non-local to Theresienwiese in Munich, Germany, he wanted to set up a tent at the Oktoberfest -- the largest that ever existed. To acquire a license to run a tent at the Oktoberfest, landlords in the late 1800s had to buy a lot in an auction from the city of Munich. Those lots constrained the size of the huts the landlords could set up. So, a large beer tent built by Lang was a difficult dream to realize. Yet, Lang somehow did it. 

He is said to have paid five local innkeepers to serve as his undercover agents and bid for five adjacent lots. He also made sure to win over Munich’s municipal authorities. The result -- only one magistrate voted against Lang’s licensing for the Oktoberfest in 1898.

His Bavarian Giant Hall featured a remarkable 6,000 seats and 120 employees – both numbers so impressive that they were advertised on posters. From 10 am on, his tent supposedly featured free concerts of the 30-man orchestra that was dressed in alpine costumes. To make sure the new building would be the liveliest ever seen, Lang additionally introduced songbooks. Supposedly, 50,000 of them, containing new melodies, were distributed for free to encourage visitors to sing along. 

Although, not everyone has taken well to the series that was first released September 8 in Germany as ‘Oktoberfest 1900’ on ARD Mediathek. “To turn an Oktoberfest back to a power-obsessed milieu in order to generate an audience is totally wrong and unabashed. It has nothing to do with reality,” said Wiesn boss Clemens Baumgärtner.

On German television, the six-part German-Czech television series will be broadcast on Das Erste on September 15, September 16, and September 23, in double episodes. The series will receive its global premiere on Netflix on October 1.

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