Howl at Venice

Ika blake at
Wed Sep 8 06:01:18 EDT 2004

[in response to various reviews posted]

I finally watched *Spirited Away* this week and completely fell in love
with it, so I'm looking forward to the Howl movie more than ever. I get
the feeling Miyazaki is going to be very sympatico with DWJ, for various
reasons - the twists and turns of the plot of *SA*, especially the
revelation about ?Haku? towards the end, are very similar to the way our
assumptions about what's going on in Howl, who's sympathetic and why, are
quietly challenged and revised throughout the book. There's also a similar
matter-of-factness in both Howl-the-book and *SA* about the coexistence of
fantasy and 'real' worlds - I'm hoping Miyazaki has left Wales (or
similar) in the movie, because I think he'd do it really well. In both
Howl-book and *SA*, the fantasy and the real world are on the same level
of reality, rather than the ?more common* fantasy-genre idea that the
Chosen Few have access to a Higher Realm (Hogwarts, the Old Ones, etc) of
which the common sheeple know not or from which the sentimentalized
innocents must be protected for it will break their tiny branes.

*I get the feeling it's more common, but I don't know because I don't read
much fantasy, especially not for adults.

Anyway. In my new squeeing Miyazaki-fangirl state (he is teh genius
omg!!11!) I'm really pleased that Miyazaki is doing this movie. I'm a
fanficker at heart and I'm always going to prefer watching a movie that is
genuinely someone else's take on a book than an attempt at a literal
interpretation. If you take the Potter movies as examples (and admittedly
I'm not that smitten with the source material in that case <g>), the first
two were *really* literal and *really* boring, and then Cuaron completely
transformed the third - adding and subtracting stuff, reshaping the
narrative and the characters, according to his own vision. And it was
about a million times better, I thought.

I guess the thing is that I can visualize the book perfectly well in my
own head, and I don't need a film-maker to do that for me (I also don't
*want* hir to: it might interfere with my own visualizations [cf Elijah
Wood as Frodo!]). I was also thinking last night about what a literal
interpretation of a DWJ book might look like - I was using 'Charmed Life'
as an example, it being the most quintessentially DWJ book I could think
of - and it made me shudder, a bit, because I couldn't help picturing
something rather in the style of the movie of "I Capture the Castle": a
pornographic level of detail in the 'period' styling and the long, looong
shots of oh-so-English scenery (Cat being driven to Chrestomanci castle,
with orchestral music and lots of loving shots of the Comforting Old Car).
Maybe you could do it without fetishizing the setting (although if anyone
put any money into the production, I bet the desire to sell it in America,
not to mention the influence of Harry Potter, would result in lots of
"oh-isn't-it-English" cinematography), but I can't quite picture it.

In fact, every time I start thinking about this, I can't come up with a
single movie I like that might work as a pattern for a film of one of the
Chrestomanci books (can anyone? I'm open to suggestions). I'm not sure how
you could get at the DWJ-ness of the books without going for a really
loose interpretation (the way literal translations of poetry rarely work
as well). I also think animation has a better chance of working than
live-action, because you can be looser with the setting (and don't have to
find brilliant child actors!).

Love, Ika

"He had embarked upon a death wish-fulfilment roller coaster"
- Ruth Rendell, Diamond Dagger Award winner
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