Germany’s Barbarians Is a Netflix Mega Hit

By Louisa Mellor

Here’s the lowdown on Germany’s global Netflix hit Barbarians.

In October, Barbarians came out of nowhere and stormed into Netflix’s global Top 10.

It’s the first TV show made by the new German branch of Gaumont, the company behind Narcos and Hannibal.

The six-episode series was filmed in Budapest, Hungary, at the same studio as Denis Villeneuve’s new sci-fi epic Dune.

Set in ancient Germany in 9 CE, Barbarians tells the story of Arminius, the hero who led his people in a devastating attack on the invading Roman army.

 It’s based on the real Battle of Teutoburg Forest, where the Germanic tribes ambushed and defeated over 20,000 Roman soldiers.

Like The Last Kingdom’s Uhtred and Game of Thrones’ Theon, Arminius was taken hostage as a child and raised by his people’s enemy.

 It hasn’t been renewed yet, but a second season could tell the story of the Battle of Idistaviso, in which Arminius and his younger brother Flavus fought on opposite sides.

When Arminius returns to his tribe as an adult, it kicks off a complicated love triangle.

The show’s warrior queen Thusnelda is based on a real historical figure, and has drawn comparisons to Vikings’ Lagertha.

While swordsman Folkwin Wolfspeer was invented purely for the series.

In modern Germany, there’s controversy around Arminius and the battle, which were historically co-opted as nationalist symbols by the Far Right.

Barbarians is partly an attempt to reclaim the story and restore it to mainstream German history…

…and partly an excuse for lots of muddy, bloody, violent action!