JOE HILL — NOS4A2 — TV SERIES — AMAZON PRIME SEASON 2–2020
Everyone was waiting for this second season since the first season had ended on some kind of cliffhanging impasse. I am certainly not going to tell you the story. One thing is sure. This film will not destroy the belief so many kids have in their psyche that Father Christmas is real, that he comes in a sleigh drawn by at least two jingling-belled reindeer. To make sure that will not happen the season is classified -16. As long as children believe in Santa Claus or Father Christmas, they will go on believing in Jesus, aka Jesus Christ, and many other stories that no apostle can write anymore: they are more than endangered, they are extinct.
You must believe in the famous science-fiction theory that there are parallel worlds to ours and that you can travel there and be happy and protected from all the dumb things human beings are doing on Earth, and soon enough on the Moon and Mars. Nothing to do with Mars bars nor Moonshine whisky. Just the two planets that will be spoiled by human beings soon enough. The theory is even the basis of some conspiracy theories that pretend that in fact, we are nothing but toys in the hands of people living there in these parallel worlds. There is even one that pretends that these parallel worlds are the real worlds and that our world that we believe is real is only a figment of these extraterrestrials’ imagination. A certain Stephen King stopped short of this last version but starting with the Dark Tower, many of his books like The Talisman are based on the belief in the existence of a real parallel world under ours, a deeper world that is soiled and destroyed by our bad actions at the surface of our world.
Here the parallel world is Christmasland, a figment of the imagination of a certain Charlie Manx, a deranged very old individual who has become a cannibal Christmas Father who takes children away and locks them up in this Christmasland forever as children, and they remain children. The procedure is simple? The child has to get into the Rolls Royce of our sanguinolent Santa Claus on the child’s own desire, accept a Christmas ornament that he/she will attach to some tree at the last stop before Christmasland in Colorado, and then he/she is introduced to this fantasy world. In the meantime, he/she has lost all his/her teeth and vampire’s teeth have grown in his/her mouth. We have to believe Charlie Manx became what he is because of the abuse he got from his parents and then the total lack of trust of his wife. He only leaves dead adults behind him. And he escaped in the Rolls Royce with his daughter and he built that fantasy world into which he captures and detains dozens of kids.
On the good side, you have four women, Linda McQueen, mother of Vic McQueen, plus Maggie Leigh, Vic’s friend with the famous magic tiles, and her lover the FBI agent Tabitha Hutter. Two men and one boy are on this good side: Christ McQueen as Vic’s father, Lou Carmody as Vic’s partner, and Wayne McQueen as Vic’s son, but not Lou’s son, though he will adopt him later on. On the bad side, you have of course Charlie Manx and his daughter Millie Manx, plus Charlie’s child-hunter Bing Partridge, also known as the repairman of the Rolls Royce that is not self-healing when it is sort of sick, as a famous Christine would do.
Charlie Manx manages to capture Wayne McQueen and to take him to Christmasland. And it will all end up happily after ten episodes of deep and graphic horror with the destruction of Christmasland, the return of the main characters in spite of the death of a few. And the last scene is marvelous because Charlie Manx, dead and cremated left his daughter behind as the heiress of his dream. But there we are beyond the original novel.
The series is very serious on several topics like, for example, the deep love between Maggie Leigh and Tabitha Hutter. Genderism is thus clearly present though only between two women. Men remain taboo as for that subject. One more step and the USA will make it banal and normal in the wide public and even prime time films and series for two men to live a love affair, which is slightly more than just saying “I love you” to another man if you are a man yourself. The second important theme is the mistreatment and abuse of children which is clearly stated as the source and origin of all evil in human society. All criminals are deranged people in their own family background, at times over two or three generations. Mother and father are equal as for that, but boys are the main target though girls are not excluded but less prominent in the story. Along that line the existence of a house in the wild area around Christmasland where Charlie Manx is surviving shows how the past abuse of a child by his parents or partners will always survive over at least two generations.
That’s absolutely pessimistic and untrue. There are many other causes for a child to become a sociopath in his or her adult age, and they are not all explored. One of these causes is the belief in fantasy stories like Santa Claus and some can become completely dependent on this belief and can develop absurd derangement like eating sugar for dinner and sweets the rest of the time, becoming obese and diabetic, becoming an alcoholic and hooked on drugs or any other addiction from porn to some activities like obsessive-compulsive people.
Joe Hill uses the magic of the car and the motorbike skillfully, but that is easy, though his car magic is negative and dangerous, but his motorbike magic is deeply regenerative. Joe Hill states clearly that there is regeneration possible in all negative situations but this regeneration needs a magic bridge that takes you everywhere you need to go to find something you are looking for, and the motorbike is the vector of this transportation. On the negative side, there is black magic that links Charlie Manx’s survival to the black Rolls Royce, and that is frightening because such a connection between a human being and a machine, no matter how royal that machine can be, is always frightening, even horrifying. Have you heard of the Singularity that pretends one day around 2050 machines will be more intelligent than human beings and will get rid of them?
Joe Hill provides women the real central positive regenerating role in the story against the male pair of evil characters Charlie Manx and Bing Partridge. Yet this world remains male-centered and the boy Wayne McQueen is saved whereas the girl Millie Manx is doomed. Even Lou Carmody is only ancillary as for the fight and Chris MacQueen helps a lot but, in the end, he is killed by the Rolls Royce when he saves his own daughter. It is too simple to have three or four women fighting against a deranged cannibalistic male pedophile who has no preference as for gender provided the children accept to be his slave pawns on his Christmas chessboard.
Altogether then, what can we think of this series? Interesting, mind stirring but also mind muddling, a direct reflection of the USA in the present phase of its fight for some ethical future in the world. But the political Charlie Manx who haunted the White House till recently and intends to stay there for a few more weeks — if not even forever — has now be defeated, let’s hope the USA can go back to what they are supposed to be in this world and accept not to be the only master of the whole world anymore.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
JOE HILL — NOS4A2 — TV SERIES — AMAZON PRIME SEASON 1–2019
If you have read the book, forget about it. This season is just another vision of Christmas that is worth enjoying by itself and on its own. The series is transforming the supernatural elements with special effects that are making the whole thing alive and dynamic, fascinating, and mesmerizing. Don’t worry if you get hypnotized. You might come back to life afterward when you get out of the charm, curse, or witchcraft. And be sure the witchcraft is a lot more powerful than anything you may have imagined.
Of course, the old Rolls Royce is a rewriting of the famous Christine by a certain Stephen King. Joe Hill has been all along under the proper influence. The car is absolutely attached to a man who thinks he is Father Christmas and he has to liberate all the kids who are suffering under the rule of their parents (singular or plural does not matter, separated, married, divorced or widowed does not matter either, though gay and lesbian are out. Parents are seen as altogether wrong, some being evil, others being unconscious, some more maybe procrastinating so much about their fate, curse, or doom in life that they raise their children as monsters who will never be in any way happy.
You thus have the two main themes of the series that were the two main themes of the novel. First, the myth of Christmas everyday and Christmas is a paradise for young people. Permanent Christmas is also magic, or rather witchcraft. The kids who are liberated from their parents are simply transformed into some kind of sharp-teethed vampiristic cannibals who enjoy being children forever and just expect their Father Christmas to bring them a good juicy adult dinner in the shape of a man or a woman they can devour, literally devour, revealing that in the desire for pleasure and entertainment in all kids there is a cruel, criminal, savage, wild, blood-thirsty side that can come out any time at all.
The second theme which is supposed to be the cause of this Christmas Land’s existence is the fact that all parents are sickos in disguise and that they are torturing their own children all the time, minute after minute, day and night with rules and duties, obligations and chores. It kills the fun of life and leaves the kids dry-hearted and bored to death by the humdrum routine of this life where they ought to have to be obliged to be forced to do what they don’t want to do. We are not speaking of perverse pedophilia here, but of simple every day absolutely correct and amenable cherishing action like feeding, loving, taking care of their children. It turns just giving a glass of milk to a child into a criminal and murderous act that negates the child’s freedom to desire, take and appropriate for his or her sole pleasure and benefit, whatever his fancy may fall upon, even if it is simply the flesh and blood of some appetizing living body.
The series shows marvelously that redemption or at least some protection can only come from high school students in senior year, or high school flunkies who are nothing but vagrant misshapen souls and individuals who can only pretend to be something useful for others so they can survive from the pittance they are provided with. And if they don’t find themselves satisfied with this lot, they just have to become anarchists or even worse, hooligans, drifters, thieves, shoplifters, delinquents of one sort or other, my own son might say political activists or prison inmates.
The redeemers are attached to the use of a motorbike to be able to navigate in space and time and they all have some kind of shortcoming, or is it a unique and genial power or dimension, that enables them to know what to do or where things are and how to retrieve them. The main empowered people are girls, one with a magic motorbike, one with a sack of scrabble tiles that can read the future and tell you what to do, and they attract marginal boys who are not the brilliant representatives of society. They are kind of rejected or at least pushed or brushed aside, hence flunkies by segregation, or black, or fat if not obese, or over-violent. They are not within the range of normalcy, which has to be white, male, and moderately integrated into the striving blind American society that does not ask silly questions that may embarrass your soul or your social prestige.
It is thus the fight between these supernatural forces, these marginalized super-qualities and super-powers on one hand and the evil always-lurking-about destructive, possessive, dominating ambitious people who want the whole world to be at their service, at their feet, licking their shoes, and repeating over and over again, “Yessir (of course, since they can only be men) Mister Master Sir, right away I will serve you diligently and obediently.” And all around this fight between these two groups of super good or super evil heroes, the mass of the people refuse to see, refuse to believe, but Joe Hill adds one female detective who decides, for her own reasons going back to her infancy and premature birth, to believe, though discreetly, nearly in secret.
If you let yourself go into the magic of this story, you will spend a tremendous amount of time enjoying the supernatural and the super monstrous. And I am sure you will find bliss and happiness in real virtual life.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
JOE HILL — NOS4A2–2013
This is the proper book to read on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Don’t miss that opportunity to straighten up your vision of the world of children. Christmasland is the future for us all, to get rid of all adults and to turn the whole world into an entertainment and amusement park. Another version of Joyland of course.
Joe Hill is settling accounts with life and he seems to have a lot. The slave maker in this world is an old Rolls Royce car of the 1930s and the Savior of this world is a Raleigh bike and a couple of Harley Davidson and Triumph motorbikes. He does not really like Father Christmas. He prefers the reindeers and the snowmen. And be sure the Moon is not any motherly figure but the great master of this world of total liberation known as Christmasland. Let’s sing together the debunking of all mothers, and respect the exclamation marks on that one:
“In Christmasland we’ll build a Snowgirl!
And make believe that she’s a silly clown!
We’ll have lots of fun with Missus Snowgirl!
Until the other kiddies cut her down!”
If you have the guts and the courage to enter one of the cruelest and goriest books I have read lately (that definitely makes Stephen King the father look pale with his trilogy horrify / terrify / gross-out), put on your lifejacket and body armor and dive into this maelstrom of aggressive violence that is only believable if you are convinced there is a passage between this world of landscapes and the other world of your own secret inner landscapes or inscapes. We all have an inscape or several, but some of us have the tool to get into it and to bring into it the young boys and girls that will enable us to remain young forever, to rejuvenate ourselves with the youth of these children. That is not cruel at all for these children because that’s the only thing they want: to play all the time, to unwrap presents all the time, to indulge in games all the time, provided these games enable them to kill after some nice torturing sessions one or two adults a day, a night, a minute even if they would be listened to and followed into their own deeper impulses. Childhood innocence is an infantile deadly lethal disease.
It is impossible to even try to give you a spoiler about this story because it is so twisted, perverted, and logically illogical that I would sound like a ranting, raving, and roving fool if I even and only tried to select one single spoiler about it.
So, let me remain simple. Joe Hill loves mothers, that’s obvious and the mother, Victoria, aka Vic, of the main character, a child of course named Bruce Wayne (a mixture of Bruce Lee and John Wayne, Joe Hill’s phantasms guaranteed), has to be sacrificed after she has fulfilled her only task, saving her son from the grasp of the monster Charlie Manx (don’t try to see Mannix in this one because he is evil and the good FBI agent is a female: Tabitha — like Joe Hill’s mother — Hutter — nothing to do with the Anabaptist Jacob Hutter, or in fact maybe perhaps everything to do with him).
The only redeeming character in this family, I mean the family of this poor Bruce Wayne, an unmarried family, what’s more, Bruce Wayne being a child out of wedlock, a poor child who has all the stigmata of perdition, the only redeeming character thus is the father, Louis, aka Lou (no allusion to Louis Armstrong since he is not black nor Lou Reed, though this one is more difficult to justify) Carmody. We expect to have the triplets Huey, Dewey, and Louie, but the other two, besides Louis, are two girls, Lorrie and Millie, the daughters of the Monster Charlie who is the fourth wheel of the cart, except if we see the triplets in Lorrie, Millie, and Charlie, and Louis then is the fourth wheel of the cart since he carries an “s” at the end of his name and not an “e.”
Don’t be surprised if the way to this Christmasland is in three stages: The House of Sleep, the House of Sleigh, and finally Christmasland itself. Sleep is for the parents who are tortured into nonexistence to save their own children with dental anesthetic gas that tastes like gingerbread. The Sleigh is for the children to slide into Christmasland in one swooping slip into the dream, in the Rolls Royce of course since it is the sorcerer of the story that extracts the youth of the children to invest and implant it into Charlie Manx. Goody good and sweet candy.
Apparently under the influence of Joe Hill’s mother — so the author says — the last chapter was rewritten and the final destruction of all the children who were captured and abducted by the Rolls Royce, NOS4A2, the modern Nosferatu, the postmodern vampire, are finally redeemed though we can imagine the end was their total annihilation. No future indeed. We can thank Tabitha King for this last page of redemption.
The book is going to appeal to your deep sense of cruelty because that’s the main characteristic of man according to Joe Hill: man is cruel to all other human beings and himself too. Don’t bother with women since they are only the salvaging character who has to be sacrificed to achieve the final salvation of the child. You understand then why the father is Lou, aka Louis. He is an eternal child, especially after he was cleaned up of his mountain of excessive fat. He is a child. And the FBI agent, Tabitha Hutter, can only be the merger of a mother, who will have to be sacrificed when she is finished with salvaging some kids, and a puritan punisher who will have to be sidetracked in her attempt to prevent children from being cruel as they naturally are, should be and have to be.
And don’t expect the Moon to be a motherly character. She is the voice of vengeance and revenge against parents commanding the redeemed children to kill all adults. That moon who is a pure male in the deepest gender tradition of the Germans does not hesitate on words:
“GET HER! KILL HER! SHE CAME HERE TO END CHRISTMAS! KILL HER NOW!”
“SHE’S DOWN, SHE’S DOWN, CUT HER, KILL HER!”
In all that pile of supernatural events yet there is no real illogical twist, I mean no twist that is not logically illogical and certainly not illogically logical. Joe Hill’s children have reached the age of reason and they can make the difference between 2 + 2 and the fall of Babylon, though the fall of Christmasland is quite similar to the Book of Revelation of the Horror Planet of the King of all gory terror and his direct descendants.
There is only one shortcoming in this book. It is maybe slightly too short. The author used a couple of shortcuts here and there to make the trip hold within seven hundred pages. Maybe a couple more hundred pages might have made our pleasure last longer.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
JOE HILL — HORNS — 2010
Two young people, Ig and Merrin, or Ignatius and Mary if you prefer, or whatever. Two young people who are just plain normal and deserve the perfect wedding at the end of the story and they will be happy ever after though they will have no children.
Their life was from the very start ruined by a compulsive liar who pretended to be the best friend of Ig and a good friend of Merrin. Lee he is named, like the general you know, and his family name should have made him suspicious since it is Tourneau, very French indeed, and the French are all chefs cooking the whole world in their kitchen of hell. He is also a thief and he can steal whatever he wants and particularly what belongs to his friends and in this case Ig’s girlfriend Merrin.
The vision of the situation in Gideon is a nightmare painted pink as if it were the happiest birthday party you can imagine. In fact, it is absolutely nothing but a big mess of frustrated people who have failed in all their actions and have made up for their failures. Few are those who do not fail. One of them is Ig’s brother Terry who is a successful trumpet player who has had a good career in Los Angeles as the host of some kind of popular TV show, something like a soft version of the famous Apprentice, the show that was the best starting block of the most dangerous comedian in the world.
But Ig is another story. He has asthma and cannot play the trumpet-like his father would have liked him to do, like his brother. He is captured — and there is no liberation and no return — by a flashing golden cross in a church some Sunday morning. But this young enterprising girl who is flashing her cross at Ig had a sister who died of an extremely fast and ferocious form of cancer, and this type of cancer is carried in the family. So, you may guess what will be her fate. Ig and Merrin fall in love and will never fall out of love, and yet.
Joe Hill is a good storyteller who is able to jump from one period to another forward or backward and at times cattycorner. We thus discover little by little the important elements of the story and when some recur, they have been enriched by some flashback or flash-forward. This gives a texture to the story that is like real life because in real life nothing is really experienced along a simple timeline but we constantly bring back what we remember and we also mix some dreams or projects into what is a plain immediate reality. This entirely crisscrossed storyline is vivid and fascinating. We get lost in the consciousness of a super-character who is telling the story the way it comes, the way he remembers it, the ways he imagines it, the way he dreams, and wishes it.
But Joe Hill has another quality. It is his way of mixing some supernatural elements into a reality that becomes both virtual, surreal, and mesmerizing, even though we know it is impossible but it is so plausible in the story, and this plausibility comes from the fact that the devil, the one who carries or wears horns, who is by the way betrayed by Lee his best friend who takes possession of his girlfriend one night, hence the horns are the horns of a cuckold, but this demon or devil is not a creature from the other side of reality. He is, in fact, the main character, very human, very standard in his Christian faith, but he becomes the devil because in a way it is written in his own fate. He is so easily fooled by people and he is so happy to believe in his love and Merrin’s love that anyone can take advantage of him and he will forgive them, and he does. So, after the drama, after his loss of Merrin, after one full year of hell on earth, the devil that is in any one of us comes out and he starts growing horns. The point is that they are not fantasized at all. They are real.
Along with them, he gets special powers, which are not that special. He becomes the man to whom everyone tells whatever they have never told to anyone else, no matter how gross. He can also influence the decisions of people he is confronted with and erase their memory. In fact, he is what some would call a medium, a seer, and his sole presence leads people to do or say things out of compulsive trust and they will forget about it as soon as Ig will move away. The truth some people suddenly embrace in front of his horns is always the result of some kind of trauma and we all know PTSS or PTSD can lead people to extreme actions and extreme declarations, though here Joe Hill avoids Tourette syndrome and the repetition of piled up four-letter words into fiery compositions. That’s why these superpowers seem quite natural since they reveal the problems of Ig’s counterparts.
Strangely enough in the band of six young people concerned in this novel, Ig and Merrin will be able to reunite at the end in some kind of fiery heaven beyond Ig’s real voluntary exit from life through fire. Cancer and fire bring them both together finally. Two, Lee and his sidekick Eric, will die killed by each other while both are trying to kill Ig, so they actually kill each other by accident because their real target Ig is too mobile, too resilient and though he is just in front of the door that cast no shadow, the gate to beyond there, he manages to destroy these two arch-sociopaths. Terry, Ig’s brother, and Glenna, Ig’s girlfriend after his Merrin had been taken away, some solace more than any real love, find out that both have quitted what they were doing, Terry in LA and Glenna in the beauty parlor of hers and both are moving to New York and they will be able to build some kind of a relationship, though it might be a way for both of them to mourn a brother and/or friend. Is mourning a good motivation for a sentimental relationship? Personally, I do not know.
But human nature is so resilient that I believe anything is possible, at least for a while.
The last remark is about the religious context of this novel. It is obsessed in a way with God, the devil, Mary as Jesus’s mother, angels, prayers, candles, and even a menorah that is in a way out of place, especially with an image of Satan on its stand, implying that Satan and the Jews are one, except of course if the menorah is not seen as a Jewish symbol and the Hebrew inscriptions are not Jewish either. Yet I find the translation of this Hebrew note slightly flat:
“THE TREEHOUSE OF THE MIND
Tree of Good and Evil
1 Old Foundry Road
Gideon, NH 03880
RULES AND PROVISOS
Take What You Want While You’re Here
Get What You Need When You Leave
Say Amen on Your Way Out the Door
Smoking is NOT prohibited
L. MORNINGSTAR, PROPRIETOR”
And in this treehouse of the mind in a cherry tree mind you — I guess Joe Hill knows his George Washington saga — the matches used to light the candles on the menorah are in a box identified as LUCIFER MATCHES. And we all know, thanks to the TV series Supernatural that Lucifer is an angel of light that has been cast down, where Satan is his antagon, a cast-down angel of darkness.
But the best part is the sermon from the Foundry fireplace to the serpents. It is beautiful and it reflects that Ig — who is the hero in this book — reveals an evolution in the USA about religion, I mean the dogmatic Christian religion that is fundamentalistic at times, and Lee Tourneau is such a Christian fundamentalist depicted as a twisted tortured and vicious pervert. The evolution goes in another direction:
“The devil knows That only those with the courage to risk their soul for love are entitled to have a soul, even if God does not. . . I do not claim that God is dead. I tell you He is alive and well but in no position to offer salvation, being damned Himself for His criminal indifference. . . Whereas the devil is anything but indifferent. The devil is always there to help those who are ready to sin, which is another word for ‘live’.”
And that leads us to the last part of the book, ‘The Gospel according to Mick and Keith’; aka Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, or any other Mick and Keith you may prefer, like the pianist Keith Jarrett and the guitarist Mick Goodrick, both jazzmen like Ig’s and Terry’s father, and like Terry himself. But without challenging Naomi King, the author’s sister who is a minister, who can only disagree with what follows, I would say that Joe Hill reaches some kind of inspired spiritual vision when he says “Satan was the first superhero.” And his vision of the Garden of Eden as a sexless prison with no basic human rights because Adam and Eve, there, were not human beings, just the playthings of God, is refreshing in the fact it means young Americans are coming of age, the age to question all beliefs, truths and other dogmas since every single time one states something as being the truth it means that it cannot be questioned and that is totally anti-human. Some will say that’s normal since it is divine. My foot!
But here are Super-Satan:
“In his first adventure, he took the form of a snake to free two prisoners being held naked in a Third World jungle prison by an all-powerful megalomaniac. At the same time, he broadened their diet and introduced them to their own sexuality. Sounds kind of like a cross between Animal Man and Dr. Phil to me.”
This is so true, well, so vividly provocative to bring up a tremendous discussion and I must say sex led Adam and Eve to Cain, Abel, and Seth, and we know all the drama that came from these three kids. Note no girl in that offspring. I guess the two original playthings of God were not that well-programmed for procreation and descent.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
JOE HILL — ALEXANDRE AJA — DANIEL RADCLIFFE — HORNS — 2013
You will know from the very start there is something wrong with this film. You might think it is the fact that the director is French, but you will be wrong, though the French have always liked snakes and the film, like the book, is full of snakes. The general frame of the story is not changed in the film though some details are, probably to make the film more credible for the rational mind of a French director. But this rationalization of some elements does not make the film deeper or scarier or even more dramatic. Horror is not logical or rational. It is basically irrational and it is only dictated — and dictated is the only word that fits horror — by some unconscious connections, the darkest side of our human minds establishes between things that normally have no connections at all.
Thus to make Iggy into a summary of the mythical history of Satan, in fact here Lucifer first and then Satan, the white angel with vast white wings that is cast down burning more than hot, definitely to a crisp like Lucifer was cast down from heaven and his shifting into Satan, a dark burning piece of coal, is too rational to be believable. And then this devil with his monstrous horns being hurt, wounded, actually into dying like a human being with a shotgun and a fork is fascinatingly absurd. Nothing can hurt the devil. In the book, Iggy was not Satan but a human being who had been destroyed out of jealousy and was sent back with a mission: reset the clock of life back to pure virginity. Here this human dimension is lost.
But the worst change, of course, concerns the personality of Lee, the best friendly enemy that only dreams of lying, cheating, stealing, fooling his friends, his best friends first and most, and everyone else. The social jealousy of this Lee who dreams himself poor and rejected though he is from a wealthy family, for Iggy who he declares his best friend and who is from a very wealthy family of jazz musicians with his brother the anchorman of a very successful TV show, is not justified and it is hardly shown. The LA television show has disappeared. The brother is still a trumpet player, but he is making a living by playing in local clubs or bars or taverns. And Lee is no longer a compulsive liar. In fact, he is nearly angelic, and he really saves Iggy from drowning.
In this scene or the challenge, the text does not correspond to the images. Iggy is going to run in the shopping mall cart down some kind of chute into the river. He is supposed to do it naked. A bad script girl somewhere must have forgotten to mention “naked” on Iggy’s costume since he runs his cart with his briefs on, and he is accused of not having run naked because he had kept his snickers. There definitely is somewhere a funny script girl who is prudish and does not know that snickers are not briefs, and those briefs, by the way, were not that brief, more some kind of boxers.
But Lee actually dives into the river to save Iggy from drowning, trapped as he was by the logs on the river, over his head. How did he manage to get through the logs into the water under the logs? I saw him falling into a section that was not blocked by the logs. The script once again must have had some blank spots.
Apart from that, it is the story of a girl that loves a boy so much and of a boy that loves a girl so much that she cannot accept to let things go easy when the first real obstacle, a medical family heritage actually, comes up, and she makes the wrong decision and causes the worst catastrophe imaginable. Add to that best friend Lee who has always been waiting for this opportunity to slip his two bits in-between the two lovers, and the catastrophe becomes a tragedy. But I must say the tense thrilling density necessary for the tragedy not to fall into an entertaining melodrama is not present, made light and not tight as it is by the visual effects that are nothing but visual effects, and the final confrontation should never have been in full daylight and under bright sunshine. Dark dusk or early night, with at most a little bit of starlight and moonlight would or could have been a lot better.
Daniel Radcliffe should know what is said in the film must be what we see, and horror, satanic, devilish, or even angelic (because there are some horrendous angels), needs tight tension in a somber, meaning dark and menacing, awesome atmosphere. It’s a shame because that actor has potential and he cannot express it because he seems to be all the time frozen by the way he acted when he was Prince Harry Potter. Hey, man, there is life out there and you have to bring it back into your films.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
MURNAU — NOSFERATU — 1922
That old silent film is of course a classic. It comes from the German school of horror films in the 1920s. It is an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but it takes liberties with the original. It is situated in Bremen and not in London. His girlfriend or wife is quite rightly Mina. Renfield is the boss of the real estate agency. The trip to Dracula’s castle is standard. Dracula’s voyage to Bremen is also very standard. The real change comes at the end when Mina sacrifices herself by giving herself to Dracula to keep him active up to after the cock crows. Then he dies and everyone is saved. Naive rewriting of the ending into some palatable cathartic compensation of the horror of life: salvation is possible? and escape is a real eventuality. But it is also a very Christian ending in a way, or isn’t it Jewish after all? The woman sacrificing herself for the sake of the social group that is menaced by Dracula. And this sacrifice is epiphanic since it brings salvation. This fantastic and horror period in the German cinema seems to be longing for a happy ending, just as if the reality of Germany then was so bleak that happiness could only be a dream and a consolation or a solace the cinema could propose to people. The film though is admirable by the quality of the pictures and the shooting. A black and white film on such a subject could easily become drab, which it never does. The pictures are always innovative in a way or another with contrast or composition that makes the poor technique of the days quite able to translate complex situations. The acting of these silent actors is also quite admirable in the body language they use that is never overdone which would make it grotesque. It is just expressive enough to mean what it is supposed to mean without any negative second level reading.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University of Paris Dauphine & University of Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne
WERNER HERZOG — KLAUS KINSKY — ISABELLE ADJANI — NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE
A remake of Murnau’s Nosferatu. It speaks and it is full of color. Very standard remake but a few changes are difficult to explain. For instance, Mina and Lucy are inverted and Jonathan is married to Lucy. It may be Bremen, but it looks like Amsterdam but with the sea next door. We have the same idea of a plague. But the director takes liberty with this plague and seems to organize at the end of it some kind of open-air festivity and Last Supper for the survivors soon to be dead anyway. Morbid in other words. Herzog keeps the ending in which Lucy sacrifices herself by giving herself to Dracula to make him trespass the cock’s crowing line. And she succeeds. A vampire in love is thus very silly and selfless enough to forget his survival instinct. But Herzog doubles up the ending with a good stake planted in Dracula’s heart, but in the wings, and the arrest of Van Helsing for the murder of Dracula. He will be tried sooner or later. But the best change is that Lucy is dead, and Jonathan has completed his transformation and has become a full-fledged vampire and we recapture the ending of the original where the danger of some next-generation was left open. Here it is clearly stated, and we see Jonathan crossing Europe again on horseback probably to go to his castle in Transylvania. The main interest of the film is not there. The main interest is in the phenomenal actors used for the main three characters and of course the absolutely astounding make-up of these actors. In other words, make-up added, this film recaptures the phenomenal body language and body expressivity of the old Murnau’s film. It explains the fact that it does not seem to have very rich dialogues. It is all happening in the movement and syntax of the bodies on the screen.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University of Paris Dauphine & University of Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne
Ce film franco-allemand est la reprise intégrale et très fidèle du film de Murnau du même titre ou presque. Les changements sont parfois étranges, comme l’inversion, de Mina et de Lucy, et la femme de Jonathan est Lucy. On ne sait pas vraiment si on est à Brème ou à Amsterdam. Mais j’imagine que cela a peu d’importance. On reprend l’idée de la peste mais avec une morbidité accrue comme les parades de cercueils et surtout le dernier repas, la Cène, que les encore survivants s’offrent sur la grand-place en plein soleil. Mais le film se termine dans un premier temps comme dans celui de Murnau avec Lucy se sacrifiant pour sauver sa communauté et elle réussit sans problème à retenir Nosferatu dans ses bras jusqu’au chant du coq. Mais elle en mourra ici. Le film alors en rajoute une couche avec un Van Helsing qui enfonce un pieu dans le cœur de Dracula pour en finir à jamais mais il se fera immédiatement arrêter pour meurtre et un procès lui est promis. Là on sombre dans l’hirsute. Mais le plus grand changement est que Jonathan a terminé sa mutation et c’est lui qui devient le nouveau Dracula et il repart à travers l’Europe à dos de cheval pour rejoindre son château j’imagine. On renoue avec le mal inextinguible, inexpugnable. Mais le plus beau de ce film est en définitif qu’il retrouve grâce à des acteurs parfaitement bien dirigés l’expressivité du langage corporel tout du long et malgré la couleur et les dialogues, fort réduits cependant, on a comme un film muet parlant. La seule nouveauté à ce niveau là est bien sûr la qualité des maquillages et de la prise de vue. On a donc un vrai remake dans la façon dont Dracula et ici Lucy sont campés physiquement plus que discursivement par la syntaxe des corps.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, Université Paris Dauphine & Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne