votw ii.8: Dance Magic Dance


O weeping night
O grieving sky
O rabbit wind
You just flew by

Two songs, one Paul byline. And because “Locust” doesn’t have a video (I think we all imagine a very “Crying In The Rain” look juxtaposed against an ancient Saharan setting), this week we have “Whalebone” by Savoy.

The video-music for this one is quite fantastical, wouldn’t you agree? It’s got a wood nymph exploding from a tree, a greedy hunter with inimitable facial follicles, a virginal spirit with a bloody ribbon shielding her eyes, and a desperate wife finding her home paying for the sins of her obliterated lover. Is it a P.S.A. speaking against hurting nature?

I just rewatched MirrorMask, which is what prompted me to feature “Whalebone” this week. If you don’t know MirrorMask from MaskMirror, it’s a 2oo5 fantasy film from The Jim Henson Company, who saw it fit to cash in on the neverending profits of Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. If you’re not familiar with those ’80s flicks, then just imagine Muppets and David Bowie’s crotch. Better yet — don’t.

It’s no secret that I’m wholly obsessed with fantasy narratives, from literature to motion pictures. It’s also no secret that that is my topic for this week’s blog. :)

Let’s tackle the aforementioned ones first. I don’t know what it is about the 1980s, but almost everything that came from that era was very dark. Leather jackets, cold synthesizers, Robin’s death, and Reaganomics — fantasy films for kids did not escape the motion-capture shadow. Labyrinth‘s Sarah has her trying to rescue her baby brother from the evilly loving Goblin King in a cruel, poisonous version of Alice’s adventure (Lewis Carroll was a vexing genius, indeed). The Dark Crystal was completely devoid of humans — just scowls from fowls and a woeful tale of genocide.

No, I did not circle Jareth’s “goblin king” in that picture. Some online Hoggle did.

Beyond Henson, we have Return to Oz, a quasi-sequel to the glittery 1939 singsong, rife with headless queens, squealing Wheelers, crossdressing kings, and electroshock therapy for the delusional Dorothy Gale (kids fare it is not). The NeverEnding Story (based on the driest fantasy book I have ever read; also, Kajagoogoo’s main man) has the Childlike Empress’s realm succumbing to the Nothing — the apathy of our world, the void of human imagination. Lastly, Legend‘s antagonist is Satan himself. And Tom Cruise.

Geneva conventions? Ha!



However, besides The NeverEnding Story, none of these movies were hits for the studios. (Also, The NeverEnding sequels got progressively neverending-blech.) That means that the ’90s saw a lull in the tradition the ’80s had begot. I guess kids were too busy with television “fantasies” (Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, Batman), as well as Disney’s Silver Age (Lion King, Aladdin), to be bothered with wondrous realms of deus ex machina. (And when I say “kids,” I mean me, myself, and everyone I knew as a seven-year-old in 1992.)

Then two franchises stole our imaginations post-Y2K: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the Harry Potter series. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more successful brand that has dominated both kids and adults in the 2ooos. (Maybe Spider-Man, but he doesn’t have magical swords, so he fails.) With their unequivocal successes (literature-, movie-, and toy-wise), an influx of modern-day fantasy epics burst onto the scene: the teary Bridge to Terabithia, the me-too Spiderwick Chronicles, the as-literary-worthy Chronicles of Narnia (currently reading Prince Caspian, I am), and the achingly sublime Laberinto del Fauno (Pan and his broskies).

Hell, Broadway’s answer to all things mythical and Orc was Wicked, based on the brilliant novel that sympathizes with the Wicked Witch of the West.

“I want ‘Take On Me’ residuals!”



So is too much too much? I claim that The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (which brought home the first-ever Best Picture statuette for a fantasy flick) is the greatest motion picture event of my life (eking out that space fantasy, Sraw Rats), and the Harry Potter books and movies are nothing short of sublime. (That T-shirt I got for Xmas is the affirmation.)
But every weekend now, it seems we have another “spell” being cast on audiences. That new Narnia has a sick trailer for its May release; a new Dark Crystal will be out by decade’s end; The Hobbit SHALL NOT PASS — actually, it will. On the telly, we’ve seen at least two Oz reimaginings — one with Ashanti with Muppets, another in an Oz dystopia starring the beautiful Zooey Deschanel (guess what was my favorite aspect of that miniseries). A couple of murky Alice in Wonderland “gems” are moving into production, both promising the gothic presence of Robert Smith as the Mad Hatter.

So when will the fantasy fatigue end? I don’t know. Do I want it to? Eh. If their quality can be sustained, and bombs don’t tarnish the reputation (Eragon, Golden Compass), then I think we have to accept them as mainstays (the same can be said of post-X-Men comic book movies).

Wow, that was a series of unfortunate diatribes. And now, the fantasy video. (Oh, it’s real all right.)




So is any of what I said relevant to everything I just blathered on about? Or do I just like the sound of my own typing? (What? Hillary won Ohio, you say?) Think about the opening lyrics to this blog — kind of Tolkien, aren’t they, like an Elvish aria for a repentant star in a fiery sky…

What can I say. It relaxes me in midterms week. (That’s the week with a lot of tests and essays for college, all of which gets procrastinated in favor of King of Queens reruns.)

Without further adon’t — Cold As Stone scoring, yeah, baby, YEAH!!!

John Ratcliff!


~ by Alfredeus on March 4, 2008.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: