The Alienist was written by Caleb Carr, a quite successful military historian writer, who primarily stayed away from fiction. He wrote the Alienist, against his editor’s wishes and told them that it was based on a true story, even though it wasn’t. After they read it, they fell in love with it and didn’t care even if the book was entirely fiction.
It’s easy to assume “The Alienist” is a true story, mainly because how much detail is packed in Carr’s writing and his inclusion of historic figures such as Teddy Roosevelt. While the book might not be a completely true story, it manages to truly make you think.
Every facet of “The Alienist” as an adaptation rings true to the books. The historical accuracy can be found deep rooted inside of the character of Dr. Laszlo Kreizler played by Daniel Brühl. “The Alienist” as an early form of a psychologist as he attempts to catch a serial killer on the lurk. The story takes place in 1896 Manhattan, the story follows Kreizler and American reporter John Schuyler Moore played wonderfully by Luke Evans, and police officer Sara Howard played by Dakota Fanning as they try their hardest to track down this serial killer before the term was even invented.
The bleak story starts with a 13-year-old boy found mutilated and dead. The police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt assigns Kreisler on to the case. After a bit of investigating, he finds that the boy wasn’t the only victim and that the killer is still on the loose. The world of “The Alienist” features an era where forensic science did not exist. There was no understanding of mental illnesses and problems, nor was there a knowledge of serial killers’ existence.
However, aside from its incredibly well done production in the city of Budapest and attention to detail with the dialogue, language and production design. “The Alienist” doesn’t have the same energy or intensity as its competitors. “The Alienist” could have been a somewhat revolutionary series if it was released 10 or even 8 years ago. However, in the current climate of things; Hollywood’s innate obsession with serial killer content has overly saturated the entire genre of crime thriller.
Unless you have something exquisite such as “True Detective’s” first season, or one of Fincher’s serial killer films… it really doesn’t provide much. It doesn’t help that most of “The Alienist” is lacking in actual content, the show stalls often, filling time with long dialogue sequences that could be cut short and turn episodes half their time.
Talking about the performances though, everyone did their job well, especially the main trio. Starting off with Daniel Brühl as Kreisler, the German actor plays an incredibly well role of the mysterious yet agitating “The Alienist”. Luke Evans’ role as John Moore is another fantastic addition to the series, he plays the brooding character with a gloomy aesthetic. Dakota Fanning on the other hand plays Sara Howard, the first woman female employed by the Police Force in the city, and she does a stellar job at it.
The series’ production quality is insanely high, shot literally on the streets of Budapest. It could all have been done inside of a sound stage, however the authenticity that the studio wanted could only be had on the streets of Budapest. Most of the production for the series took place at Origo Studios in Budapest and in the set built up nearby on a backlot.
The price tag estimated at $9 million an episode — about $7.5 million after production tax credits are applied.
While scenes that were featured in public areas in the series were shot on the streets and key locations of Budapest. Lónyay Street, is one of the few examples of this. A bit of touch up made it look completely Manhattanized while still retaining its local charm.
Here’s a video of Luke Evans giving us a tour of the set that they are working on in Budapest
The actor has been known to call Budapest as one of his favorite cities in the world. In the video he clearly states that “Budapest has great food, great people” and that the Liberty Bridge is definitely one of his favorite locations where he loves to take walks. He says that he enjoys climbing up the Gellért Hill and the Citadella in the morning time, the beauty of Budapest is something he highly admires.