Six Impossible Things

A Blog About Fiction and Reading

MirrorMask: The Illustrated Script

MirrormaskMirrorMask: The Illustrated Script


It’s hard to classify this one.  Is it fiction?  Nonfiction?  Graphic novel?  Or a weird blend of all three?  I’m going to go with the third option, just to be on the safe side.  More information is better than less, right?

Being the Neil Gaiman fanboy that I am (see the last few entries if you don’t believe me), it was inevitable that I was going to see this movie.  I wanted to catch it in the theaters, but the small window of time that it was there (I estimate about 20 minutes) prohibited me doing so.  As soon as it was released on DVD, though, I was there.  Two hours later, I was … well, confused.

I hate to come across as anti-intellectual, but I much prefer the story over the form the story takes.  This preference is part of the reason I couldn’t get into Danielewski’s House of Leaves, and why I have such a hard time getting into character-driven fiction.  MirrorMask went way over my head, and there were times when I was struggling to figure out what, exactly was going on.  I love Dave McKean’s style, and it’s all over this movie, but it was like reading Arkham Asylum without the script: As appropriate as the art style was, it seemed to detract from my understanding of the story.  Had I not read the anniversary edition of Arkham Asylum with the script afterward, I would have taken a lot less from that story than I did.

Luckily, the illustrated script of the movie helped clarify some of the questions I had.  It turns out that I did understand most of the story, and I did have a clear idea of Helena’s motivations; it was just buried beneath the idea that I had to be missing something among all that style.  For a Neil Gaiman story, though, it’s a bit shallow, which was slightly disappointing, but the conflict, the transformation, and the ending were all excellent ideas, brilliantly executed.

Another neat aspect of this book is that there is some behind-the-scenes stuff here, including Neil’s original draft of the story, and the back-and-forth discussions between writer and director to make sure the story worked for film.  There were even storyboarded portions of the story that didn’t make it into production, and some of Neil’s insight into how movies are made, and how making this one was different.  It’s like getting the bonus material on a DVD, and if you’re like me, and love those sorts of bits, then you’re going to enjoy the extra stuff in the book, too.

I’m looking forward to seeing the movie again, now that I have a clearer understanding of the story.  Now that I have all that out of the way, I can probably better appreciate the melding of style and story, and bring myself back up to the level of intellectual.

Yeah, right.


August 31, 2007 Posted by | Adult Fiction, Graphic Novels, Nonfiction, Reviews | Leave a comment