Sunday, October 09, 2011

MirrorMask: Film Platypus

Think with me for a moment...

Last weekend I was privileged to watch MirrorMask, Niel Gaiman's first foray into the film industry.  While the story has elements that seem to presage later films like Coroline, Dave McKean's odd visual style give it a unique feel.  It's that unique feel, a sort of post-modern-industrial-goth-chic, that has stayed with me a week after viewing the film.  As a work done in collaboration with Jim Henson Studios, that's not surprising.  Other Henson productions such as The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth strike me as notable more for their production value than for their story lines.  Don't get me wrong.  They're not bad stories, just traditional and unremarkable.  They just get the job done so that the visuals are freed up to run away with the show.

All this makes me wonder how important story is to film.  Take Terrence Malik, for instance.  There isn't a lot of plot to The New World, but the visuals are so incredible and thought-provoking that they bear the weight that would traditional be assigned to the story.  To go with a different example, think of how Dino de Laurentis used the score of Conan the Barbarian to take the place of the sparse and rather traditional dialog.  It's the strong combination of visuals and music that drive that movie along.  Back to high-brow film, we might also look at the disconnected vignettes that make up Andrei Rubalev.  Perhaps none of those are really examples of visuals or music replacing plot, but simply alternate methods of story telling.

Anyhow, there's no hard and fast thesis to this post, more of just an "I wonder."  I wonder.

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