Mirrormask [ McKean & Gaiman ]

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Dougie McIntosh
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Mirrormask [ McKean & Gaiman ]

Postby Dougie McIntosh » Mon Mar 20, 2006 7:42 am

Just wonderin' if anyone has viewed this fabulous DVD yet.

If so, whaddayaz think?

Also, Harlan gets a mention (by Dave Mckean) in toto with Franz Kafka
in one of the interviews - within the special features section.

Just thought some of you would like to know.

-- Dougie.
' the more you know less the better '
-- Billy Connolly

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Postby DVG » Mon Mar 20, 2006 4:31 pm

I thought it was charming, even if the story was rather thin.

Wonderful performance from the little girl.

Liked the sphinxes, the revolving giants and the sequence at the automated beautician's. Thought they might have gone a bit far with the masks (I wanted to see the clown's face and didn't quite see the significance of of not being able to), although the designs were fun to look at.

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Mirror Mask

Postby markabaddon » Tue Mar 21, 2006 4:13 pm

Here is a review I did for Mirror Mask when I saw it in the theater last year. I purchased the DVD but have not ha a chance to watch it yet.

“Mirror Mask” 2005, directed by Dave McKean, written by Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman; Henson Production; 101 Minutes

I am starting to wonder if there is anything Neil Gaiman cannot do. Seriously. The guy created one of the definitive comics of the last 25 years in Sandman, has written some great novels (American Gods, Anansi Boys), and now has collaborated with his longtime partner from Sandman, Dave McKean, in creating a very unusual film in Mirror Mask.

Mirror Mask tells the story of Helena, a young 14 or 15-year-old girl whose parents run a traveling circus. Similar to the protagonist in Gaiman’s novel, Anansi Boys, Helena is very embarrassed by her parents and wants nothing more than to live a “normal” life like any other girl. She has a fight with her mother one night just prior to performing and returns from the stage to find out her mother collapsed while she was performing her juggling act.

During her lengthy hospital stay, Helena visits regularly, consumed with guilt that she was somehow responsible for her mother’s illness and throwing herself into her artwork, which now covers the walls of her room. The night before her mother’s surgery, Helena hears a noise outside, wanders out, and stumbles into the world of the Mirror Mask.

It turns out that, in this world, the Queen of Light has fallen ill, and the Queen of the Dark has started to consume the kingdom of light. Both Queens look very similar to Helena’s mother, and Helena explores this world in an effort to stop the Darkness from consuming everything. She then discovers that her entry into this world was not by accident, as the Queen of Darkness has a daughter who has run away, as she would prefer to live a “normal” life away from her mother. The only hope for the Light is for Helena to find the Mirror Mask.

Visually, this movie is stunning. Dave McKean has received multiple awards for his surrealistic work on the Sandman covers and this film does the improbable and translates those images effectively to the big screen.

The script combines elements from both the 1980s cult classic Labyrinth and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland to brilliant effect. One of the nice touches to the film occurs after the Queen of Darkness has captured Helena. Valentine, a character that has helped Helena on her quest, wakes her from the brainwashing by having her juggle. I found the reminder of her old life, from which she was so hell bent on running away from, as the mechanism by which she is saved to be delicious irony.

The one problem I had with the film was with the score. At times, the music was so loud that it was impossible to hear what the characters were saying. Not sure if that was a problem specific to the theater in which I saw the film, or with the film itself, but it was definitely noticed by a bunch of people in the theater.

However, that was a minor annoyance in what was otherwise a very well done movie. For fans of Gaiman or McKean, or for those who like their fantasy a little off – kilter (some of the animals and images in this film have to be seen to be believed), I would recommend this film.

Dougie McIntosh
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Location: Australia

Mirrormask reply

Postby Dougie McIntosh » Thu Mar 30, 2006 2:03 am

DVG and Mark - thanks for the replies.

Yes, I found it somewhat thin on first viewing, but I put it down to my sleep-deprived state - second time I watched it though, totally loved it. I think my reading of the book - The Alchemy of Mirrormask, by Gaiman and Mckean - helped as well.

I've only flicked through the script book - MirrorMask: The Illustrated Film Script of the Motion Picture - but I'll save that for after my third or fourth viewing.

Mark - that problem you had with the score - on my first viewing I had a few moments were I got a bit confused - again i thought it was the sleep deprivation, but then on the second viewing, I totally got it.

One thing I did notice about this film - is that it doesn't follow certain 'popular movie' trends, i.e.
it . . . and I am struggling to formulate this here . . . . it speaks with it's own voice, obviously that voice as the melding of the talents of McKean, Gaiman et. al. Any thoughts on this ?

I'll be very interested to see Dave's short films (which are to be released on DVD sometime in the near future) and two films Neil is attached to (script/consulting &tc.) - Beowulf and Stardust.

And I wish I could've viewed Mirrormask at the cinema theatre - who knows, maybe our independent cinemas might show it soon, or somewhere down the road aways ....

- Dougie.
' the more you know less the better '

-- Billy Connolly

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