Off the Shelf
By Marcus Pan
There isnt much I can say about Neil Gaiman of course,
the master of the macabre fantasy worlds of Neverwhere, Stardust, Smoke and
Mirrors(1) and, of course, Sandman. This time, Dave McKean has once
again hooked up with the author to create an upcoming Jim Henson film called
Mirror Mask. A dark and strange alternate universe is portrayed here, as
lead character Helena gets drawn into her own creations while her mother goes
through life altering surgery. A childs attempt to rationalize the horror
of her own world by building something moreso in the next, perhaps?
Filled with riveting imagery of unique and unusual places,
Mirror Mask is modeled after the Labyrinth and Dark
Crystal movies. The movie itself is expected out this summer and the book
that was sent to me by Harper Collins is the unedited film script, with
McKeans graphic elements and signature pencil-sketch style. Scenes since
deleted from the final cut of the movie are included in the script as well as
some very interesting correspondence between Neil and Dave as the movie was
developed from thought to final form.
Essays from each of the two creators about working with one
another are included as well as an introduction as this book was coming to
fruition. The book itself is beautiful hardcover, animated fold out,
scenes from the making of the movie in two full color sections inside with
panels for all of the scenes of the movie from Daves mind as he
illustrated the script. A beautiful piece of art indeed, and large as well
coffee table size.
The story is brilliant, taking elements of childhood
personas and warping them into a beautiful alternate universe with a Dark and
Light Queen presiding over their various kingdoms. The daughter of the Dark
Queen is an alternate version of our heroine, Helena, who runs away from her
home in the dark palace. As she leaves the alternate world, our worlds
Helena is drawn through the fabric into hers while the Dark Queen searches for
her lost runaway daughter to find Helena herself good enough for the
queen. They look the same, at least.
The strange creatures youll encounter, as good as any
from influential films like Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal, are
unusual and brilliant. The monkeybirds, or the Sphinx cats for example are just
realistic enough to be believable, but just distinct enough to be appropriate
in the world of Light and Dark. The script is written wonderfully with little
in the way of cliché lines and phrases and it is here I find a huge
similarity between Sarah (Labyrinth) and Helena (Mirror Mask)
with their actions and attitudes.
Overall this is a brilliant book and would go well on any
coffee table. It reads quickly, being a script treatment, and on the whole
its top quality Harper Collins after all. The Jim Henson group
will be knocking Mirror Mask out to theatres this coming summer, so
watch for the latest moody brilliance from author Neil Gaiman and artist Dave
McKean in the near future. The trailer for the movie, available at
www.mirrormask.com, will perk your interest just as much as mine Im sure,
and Gaiman will be bringing out his next novel, Anansi Boys, in
September of this year as well.
Mirror Mask by Neil Gaiman and Dave
Copyright © 2005 by The Jim Henson Company
(1) All of these were reviewed in Legends
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