Totems on Prime Video: a spectacular French series is possible, the proof!…

Created by Juliette Soubrier and Olivier Dujols, the “Totems” series transports viewers to the thrilling world of espionage and brings the big show to the small screen. Don’t miss it on Amazon Prime Video.


In 1965, in the middle of the Cold War, Francis Mareuil, a French scientist, is preparing to become a spy. While working for the French secret services and the CIA, he meets Lyudmila Goloubeva, a pianist forced to collaborate with the KGB. It’s the beginning of a love story… But how do you know if the feelings that seem to animate them are sincere or guided by political interests?

Totems, a series created by Juliette Soubrier and Olivier Dujols.


Niels Schneider, one of the most talented actors of his generation, embodies the leading role in this great spy adventure. He lends his features to François Mareuil, a young engineer in aeronautics who finds himself, despite himself, invested with a mission of the utmost importance. Ana Girardot plays his wife, an independent woman despite the era in which she evolves.

Russian actress Vera Kolesnikova, who appeared in season 5 of Legends Office, plays the other major plot role. She is Lyudmila, a musician who has no choice but to work with the KGB to short-circuit the French mission. As for the secondary characters, we also find Lambert Wilson and José Garcia, surprising in this darker register.


In cinema as on television, the Cold War is an inexhaustible source of stories. The Three Days of the Condor, The Lives of Others, The Americans series… examples abound and many of them have become true classics. Totems draws, in turn, from this political and historical context to offer an electrifying race against time. It is about espionage, a clandestine love and a mysterious space project. The result is exciting.

Large-scale, the series is the result of a collaboration between the Amazon platform and the Gaumont company. Two vehicles necessary to provide the project with the means to match its ambitions. From the first minutes, the viewer is instantly immersed in another era thanks to the quality of the sets and costumes. Long before the action begins, the show is already there.

Prime Video

Niels Schneider, excellent in the skin of an ordinary hero.

Through its eight episodes, the plot of Totems takes the characters on a perilous adventure between Berlin, Moscow and Algeria. The scriptwriters choose ordinary protagonists, installed in an almost peaceful daily life, to reverse their destiny and that of their loved ones. For the public, the identification is immediate as the events become more complicated.

Niels Schneider, who continues to choose his projects with great precision, puts his talent and his magnetism at the service of this “everyman” entangled in a matter that is beyond him. If the romance he shares onscreen with Vera Kolesnikova may seem conventional, it is nonetheless effective and allows you to explore the complexity of the characters.

Prime Video

Vera Kolesnikova and Niels Schneider in “Totems”.

Even the secondary protagonists have a captivating plot, such as Anne, played by Ana Girardot. Much of its narrative arc highlights the condition of French women in the early sixties. The heroine finds herself confronted with the impossibility of having her own bank account, but also with the question of abortion.

Without falling into the trap of easy and clumsy pastiche, Totems is inspired by the codes of Hollywood thrillers and assumes it. The series offers great entertainment, visually inventive – the photography is sumptuous – and screenplay solid. This first season should, we hope, find its audience.

Totems is available on Amazon Prime Video.

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