Sunday, July 5, 2009


Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded. This time, a review of Mirrormask (HarperCollins, 2005).

I remember thinking, when I saw the film Mirrormask in 2005, that it was an even better film than it was the first time I saw it, back when it was called Labyrinth. In novelised form - this is an illustrated children's book, with words by Neil Gaiman and imagery by Dave McKean - the similarities with the earlier Henson film aren't quite so obvious. For one thing, I can't remember for the life of me anything at all about Jennifer Connelly's character's pre-Muppet/Bowie existence, but Helena in Mirrormask has a very memorable and vivid world as a travelling circus performer.

I've always had problems with the nebulous and vague ways that Gaiman brings his stories to conclusion, but one thing he does amazingly well is create a really vivid, grounded, strikingly real world for his characters. He turns the mundane into something incredibly memorable, before things then get all weird. Having said that, Mirrormask is definitely walking on very familiar ground for Gaiman. If you're familiar with either Coraline or the "Doll's House" storyline in The Sandman, then Helena's descent into a weird world of bad dreams isn't going to seem entirely unfamiliar.

Interestingly, for a film which relies so heavily on its special effects and design, the book stands up pretty well with its emphasis on text. It's a little slim at 80 pages, but then again I was thick enough not to consider this as being a "children's edition" until I looked it up on Amazon. Perhaps it's not an essential part of your Gaiman library, but I'd track down a copy of this before bothering with those Spawn spinoffs he was doing in the early '90s.

No comments: