The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is one of a series of related films that portray seemingly "historical" events that never actually took place in the timeline of The Man in the High Castle.
These films are forbidden under the laws of the Greater Nazi Reich and are highly sought-after by both American Resistance and Adolf Hitler. Hawthorne Abendsen, the "Man in the High Castle" is a collector of these films.
It was later revealed that the films had actually came from different parallel universes.
The newsreels show a variety of possible timelines, which differ from both our history as well as the alternate history shown in the series. Major events shown in the newsreels include mass executions of people who are known to be alive after a Nazi nuclear attack on San Francisco in the 1960s, and Stalin being alive in 1954, instead of his having died in 1949 in the series' chronology, and 1953 in our world.
- Juliana Crain watches a film that shows the Allies victory in WW II and the Tehran Conference. (Real life)
- Joe Blake describes the film he watched as a Soviet propaganda video of 1954, where Joseph Stalin is still alive.
- Hitler watched a film about the siege and fall of Berlin in 1945. (Real life)
- Juliana and Frank watch a film that show events in the near future - the nuclear bombing of San Francisco, followed by SS agents (including Joe) executing a group of survivors (including Frank).
- The same Joe Blake with an SS uniform was in another film that show Juliana and the other prisoners are being sent to become test subjects of Die Nebenwelt and as Juliana is being brought into the tunnels, the SS agent Joe Blake kills her and himself.
- Hawthorne Abendsen and Juliana watches the film of a prediction of George Dixon's death in the future, which later happened when Juliana shot Dixon.
- Hawthorne Abendsen reveals to Juliana that she died in the films, due to "fear and violence."
- One of the films shows a burned forest, where Juliana and the American Resistance are wandering, and finds a fallen sign that says, "Verboten".
- John Smith watches a series of films that shows Thomas Smith being alive and well in an alternate world, where the Allies won World War II, including Thomas and his family watching Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech, "I Have A Dream" on television.
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was a British statesman who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a non-academic historian, a writer, and an artist.
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1949. When the Nazis won the war, Stalin was executed, and his death effectively caused the collapse of the Union. In our world, Stalin died in 1953, but according to the films, Stalin was alive in 1954.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt is shown to still be alive in the films. In the series timeline, he never managed to become President of the United States. He was assassinated in 1933 by Giuseppe Zangara, an Italian anarchist who apparently expressed a "hate for all rulers". As a result, the USA never recovered from the Great Depression and was incapable and unwilling to help the Allies during World War II, which led to a German victory in Europe and Africa, and a Japanese victory in Asia and the Pacific.
The TV series offers little information about Roosevelt, although it does mention he was assassinated before taking office. While the TV series doesn't specify the identity of the murderer or when the assassination took place, it's generally assumed to be the same as in the novel. The characters in the TV series occasionally discuss Roosevelt's demise. They privately wonder if the world would be a different place if he had survived his murder.
Notes & Trivia
- In the original novel by Philip K. Dick, Grasshopper is not a film, but rather a novel-within-a-novel written by Hawthorne Abendsen. It describes an alternate reality where the Allies defeated the Axis in World War II. However, the book itself is about an alternative reality in a alternative reality describing a world where the Cold War is not between the Soviet Union and the USA, but between the USA and the British Empire. The British managed to win the war with their empire untouched thanks to the semi-authoritarian rule of Winston Churchill, who is leading the country into a Cold War against the USA. A Nationalist China is a US ally and the Soviet Union never recovered from World War II. It also implied by one of the character of the book, that in the end the British Empire unleash World War III, which they manage to win.
- The name of the films is a reference to a Biblical verse (Ecclesiastes 12:5) -
- "Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets."