Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gormenghast

Enthusiastic, reasonably faithful and hampered by imperfect, distracting effects. Gormenghast is a landscape of dreams (not very nice ones) and is delivered through words, words, words. To be rendered in images requires the utmost diligence and a very particular imagination. In this case diligence was undercut by insufficient effects budget. Their rendering of the castle didn't match mine in any particular, but no two Gormenghasts are bound to be similar. Casting, on the other hand, was good for the most part. The BBC's take on the characters was not inaccurate but it favored the middling ground of grotesquery. Steerpike is too unctuous, Flay insufficiently rigid, Nannie Slagg too big, Barquentine too clean (by far) and so on. The miniseries will be compared unfavorably and unjustly to Peter Jackson's Tolkien movies.
The extras explained something that mystified me. There is a white rook featured in Gormenghast, a bird I believed to be entirely notional. As it turned out, an albino rook was found. I feel quite dim for not thinking of albinism but instead, "impossible." The other extras are good, especially the unusually articulate and to-the-point cast interviews. Compare and contrast the commentary from the LotR movies which are wall-to-wall giggle-fests from the principals.
The music, generally very fine and appropriate, was also unlike anything I would associate with Gormenghast. But certainly good on its own terms.

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