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Directed by Dave McKean
Written by Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman (book), Neil Gaiman (screenplay)
Principal Cast
Stephanie Leonidas -- Helena
Gina McKee -- Joanne
Rob Brydon -- Helena's Father/Prime Minister
Jason Barry -- Valentine
Dora Bryan -- Nan
Robert Llewellyn -- Gryphon
Andy Hamilton -- Small Hairy
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Alma A. Hromic

My little town is hardly a metropolis and, when showing times and places for Mirrormask began to be released, I was hardly surprised that they were almost uniformly concentrated in the bigger conurbations -- this was hardly the sort of movie that would explode into common-or-garden multiplexes like a Harry Potter flick. So I was both gratified and excited to learn that it would be coming to our "art house" theatre.

I attended the show with a friend who said, "I don't know much about this movie but I've heard enough to be intrigued."

"It's Neil Gaiman," I replied.

And she looked me and said, "Who's Neil Gaiman?"

After opening and closing my mouth several times in a vain attempt to put any sort of a reply into a small enough nutshell, I simply said, "You'll see."

Starting from the seriously funky credits, the likes of which I hadn't seen before, the movie lost no time in plunging us into Otherworld. The storyline was Neil's, of course, but it was the artist Dave McKean who provided us with a plethora of suitably spellbinding images. There are too many to list, but I have to single out the weird floating fishes that school gently across the sky giving the whole place a bizarre underwater feel, the man-faced sphinxes, the endlessly inventive masks, the pigeon-gorillas who are apparently all called Bob, and that wonderful, wonderful library. There were times I just smiled in pure enjoyment, there were times I laughed out loud at some visual or verbal witticism, and every now and then I'd glance at my companion, whose expression, there in the dark theatre, was, well, astonished.

"I'm still not sure if I liked it, " she emailed me the next day. "It was so... unusual."

But she is unlikely to forget it.

As for me, it was a treat to be able to actually watch a story by one of my favourite writers take a visual shape; it was like reading a wonderful book with the images fed straight into your mind, mainlining fantasy, and I lapped it all up. It was the perfect mix of both an antidote to reality and something so painfully real and close to the bone that it verged on hyper-reality -- and that is a gift.

It doesn't have to make mind-sense, after all, if it makes perfect heart-sense -- and that, Mirrormask does. Go see it.

Copyright © 2005 Alma A. Hromic

Alma A. Hromic, addicted (in random order) to coffee, chocolate and books, has a constant and chronic problem of "too many books, not enough bookshelves". When not collecting more books and avidly reading them (with a cup of coffee at hand), she keeps busy writing her own. Following her successful two-volume fantasy series, Changer of Days, her latest novel, Jin-shei, is due out from Harper San Francisco in the spring of 2004.

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