Monday, August 21, 2006


MirrorMask is a sepia nightmare-scape of fantastical beauty, Dave McKean’s stunningly realised world coming to life in a cartoonish dream of Jim Henson creatures and masked demons.

Circus child Helena (Stephanie Leonidas) finds herself dropped into the magical world in this coming-of-age fable, reminiscent of Labyrinth and Return to Oz, after her mother is hospitalised after a collapse. Now, trapped in a land with only her own drawings and a hodgepodge of giants, sphinxes, mysterious books, and masked strangers to guide her, she must find the charm that awakens the queen of the light and holds back the encroaching dark.

While the symbolism is thicker than the stylised shadows, the morals never feel heavy-handed or blatant, and Helena’s quest to apologise to her ill mother is heartfelt and genuine without resorting to sugary sweetness. It’s a fairytale of the nastiest kind, and a complete travesty that this low-budget gem didn’t find a broader cinema release. Even though the puppets are traded for CGI, the creatures and landscape are no less vivid and palpable, the claustrophobia and tension handled so skilfully it’s impossible not to be swept along by the rush, led into a world where everything is extraordinary and nothing is to be taken for granted.


Rohan Williams said...

'Mirrormask' is very, very high up on my must-see list. If you liked McKean's work, I can lend you a fucking brilliant graphic novel he illustrated back in the '80s called 'Arkham Asylum'- he's an insanely talented guy.

Grace Suter said...

As in Arkham Asylum as in Batman????!!!!


Rohan Williams said...

Yeah, it's very trippy. It definitely doesn't look like your average comic- for starters, it's extremely dark, to the point where I'm pretty sure McKean worked from a black canvas. It's definitely more about atmosphere and mood than traditional comic storytelling.

It's written by Grant Morrison too, which, trust me, is never a bad thing. I'll pass it on at uni or something.