Showing posts with label Neil Gaiman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Neil Gaiman. Show all posts

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Neverwhere on BBC4

I have just finished listening to the BBC Radio production of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.  It is exciting to hear one of my favorite novels transformed into such drama; nothing unlocks inspiration quite like hearing a story unfold, and letting the visuals come to life inside the imagination.  Neverwhere, though it has its short-comings, is one of the richest worlds ever created... from the streets of London Above to the sewers Below, to conversations with rat lords and the bustle and chatter and chaos of the floating market.  It has its own rules, legends, and dangers.  The first episode made for an excellent, transporting hour that I was sad to see (or rather, hear) end. 
Episodes will be broadcast in 30 minute episodes this week through Friday, and then they will be available until the end of March.  Neverwhere features the voice talents of James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Bernard Cribbins, David Harewood, Sophie Okondeo and Natalie Dormer.  Visit Mr. Gaiman's blog for a fun cast photo.
About Neverwhere
Click on this cast photo for a link to the program website!

Trust me - you want to make yourself an artist date and lose yourself in London Below this week!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Neil Gaiman on Art

This is the reason I love Twitter.  How else would I find out about little jewels like this one? Neil Gaiman answers questions as part of a panel discussion on 1 December at the CT Youth Forum's Student-Roundtable Discussion.  A student asks how she should take the comment "there are enough artists in the world," and Mr. Gaiman gives the best advice for an artist to hear.  These words of encouragement made my day.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Adventures in Logophilia Day 47: necropolis (j)

The word for day 47 is...

A necropolis (noun) is a fancy (possibily euphemistic) word for a cemetery, particularly a large cemetery in an ancient city.  I rather tend to compare the structure of this word to "metropolis" and "cosmopolis"... and "city of the dead" comes to mind.  Creepy because, if you think about it, that is exactly what a cemetery is: a community of dead people.  It makes me want to read The Graveyard Book again. Never has there been a more charming necropolis than in Neil Gaiman's book.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Adventures in Logophilia Day 7: Petrichor (Jillian)

Today's word is...

Petrichor (noun) is the smell given off by the first rain after a long dry spell. 

I apologize once more for my calligraphy.  That c is rather lopsided and it throws off the whole word. Ah, to err is human. 

Anyway... petrichor.  This harkens back to last season of Doctor Who, the episode written by Mr. Gaiman entitled "The Doctor's Wife."  Petrichor was part of the psychic door code on the TARDIS.   In order to open the door to one of the old control rooms, Amy must think of "the smell of dust after rain."  This is why I love Doctor Who.  And Mr. Gaiman's poetry-in-prose.

Oxford Dictionaries says this is a rather new construction from the 1960s.  Petro, meaning rock.  I gave it to a background character in my recent novel - back ground as in, he lived five hundred years before the characters did, but he founded an important abbey and he needed a last name, and petrichor for some reason was on the tip of my tongue.  No matter how old the word actually is, is a marriage of science with poetry.  I can't say why I'm drawn to words like petrichor and downwelling, except that perhaps these words point to simple but vivid descriptions of things that I would other wise find trouble putting into words.  They're also mysterious.  Did the scientist (I'm only assuming it was a scientist) who invented this word realize how it rolls off the tongue?  Perhaps he didn't know, but that leaves the door open for us.  Not to reinvent meaning, but to add dimensions and colours and shadows to it.  The smell of dust after rain could very easily become some legendary person's name, the name of a ship at sea or a new shade of blue.  The possibilities are endless.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Adventures in Logophilia Day 3: Widdershins (Jillian)

Today, I started with one of my favorite letters of the alphabet, the mysterious and oft-forgotten W. (Every one has a favorite!  Come on!  You know you do!) I came across...

Widdershins (adverb and possibly an adjective), meaning in a left-handed, wrong or contrary direction, or counterclockwise.  According to Oxford Dictionaries, it is a Scottish word indicating the direction counter to the sun and therefore unlucky.

Widdershins puts a chill through me, like a spell as been cast.  Proof that words are made to invoke physical reactions as well as linguistic meaning.  It's opposite day. Everything that could (and possibly couldn't) goes horribly wrong.  The world has been turned topsy turvy, gone amok, changed completely in a short space of time - either for what it never was or what it always was.  Alice slips through the rabbit hole and a looking glass.  Richard Mayhew helps a dirty runaway on the street and as a result finds his life disappearing, his friends forgetting and blind to his existence.  (Neil Gaiman, in my opinion, as a master of all things widdershins.  Case in in point, the above-mentioned Neverwher, and Stardust and Coraline.)  Rose meets the Doctor, windowshop manakins begin to come to life, aliens are suddenly real, and the Doctor is living proof of things that are supposed to be impossible.  Widdershins is the new normal, the atmospheric character of the setting of a story.  Oh, it's not nonsense.  It's utter brilliance.


There are advantages to the seemingly mindless office task of alphabetizing paperwork, I've found.  Why?  It gives one good practice, a daily refamiliarization with the Order of Things.  It's amazing how often we can make mistakes about something that is otherwise incredibly basic.  How else can we sharpen our skills without a little practice?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Book to Film (Jillian)

Still from The Hobbit, starring Martin Freeman. Due out next year.

As a writer, I have a great (perhaps natural) interest in books that grow up to be made into films. I do get a little queasy, however, when such a film deviates from its original material to the extent that it is an entirely different story. But I always come back to my philosophy: a novel and a film are two completely different art forms - words and images - therefore, they cannot and will not be able to convey a story in the exact same way.

Twilight and Harry Potter aside, the biggest discussions I've heard (and perhaps been a part of) in the last several years, have inv0lved the innumerable film adaptations of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte's novels, new television and film revivals of Sherlock Holmes, an Oscar-contending remake of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and excitement over The Hunger Games, which hits theaters in March. The Hunger Games, by the way, looks exactly the way I envisioned it. I'll have a quiver in my spine till I can go see it!

There is an unconscious desire among fans for a perfect film version of Pride & Prejudice or Jane Eyre. Many cite the 1995 "Colin Firth" version of Pride & Prejudice as "the best", whereas others appreciate the simple, natural beauty of the 2005 film. For Jane Eyre, the debate has recently been strung between the 2006 BBC version starring Ruth Wilson, and last year's film starring Mia Wasikowska. There are as many opinions as there are films. One thing it does show us is that these stories resonate strongly... that we want to see it retold again and again, from different camera angles, with different faces, with new music, in new colors. This kaleidoscope of story is an incredibly beautiful thing!

What prompted my thoughts today is a quiver of excitement about The Hobbit. A trailer was released this week, a year in advance. I have to say I was skeptical about The Hobbit being brought to film (actually two), as the story, frankly, is a bit of a hiccup of events prior to The Lord of the Rings. Knowing Peter Jackson, I am well aware that liberties will be taken, that story lines may be embellished, and the final product will be spectacular.

Having seen the trailer, I am excited - not because this is a translation of a beloved story into film, but because it looks as good as The Lord of the Rings. The Lord of the Rings, books and films, has an incredibly special place in my heart. I will see The Hobbit next year knowing 1.) this is a mixture of Jackson's storytelling with Tolkein's storytelling; 2.) it will have a lot more in it than the book did; 3.) I may not agree with some of these creative changes, but; 4.) I will enjoy it very much.

In other words, to boycott a film because it isn't exactly like the book is silly. In some ways, perhaps the film of The Hobbit will delve deeper into plots and journeys (and not just because this story happens to feature a company of dwarves). That's possible, isn't it? But even if it is "better" or least "flashier" than the book, the film can in no way replace the book. A film is only a retelling.

One more example of novel-into-film is Neil Gaiman's Stardust. Book and film do not match because the story is told in different ways: the book is far more mysterious, magical and shadowy than the film; the film is faster, more adventurous and more perilous than the book. I love them both, just as I love the original and retold versions of The Lord of the Rings, Pride & Prejudice, and Jane Eyre.


As a side note, I am a little curious about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, mostly as a study in character. What I've read of Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander intrigues me, but I am not sure I'd want to be witness to the violence and brutality that inevitably comes with the story. I'll have to get back to you on that one.


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