Tuesday, August 23, 2022

The Sandman

So I finally watched The Sandman ... or part of it. I skipped the episodes covering Preludes and Nocturnes, because I found that book disturbing to read in a way the subsequent ones weren't. I started with the bonus episode, "Dream of a Thousand Cats/Calliope," then went back to "The Sound of Her Wings/Men of Good Fortune" and on to the four episodes that cover The Doll's House.

I guess I don't understand why people are so eager to see their favorite literature filmed. It can't possibly match the one in my head. No human actor could possibly speak in the dark tones I imagine for Morpheus, though Tom Sturridge at least gestures in the right direction. So all I can do is cherish the moments when the adaptation gets it better than I imagined. Such a moment came at the very end of "Dream of a Thousand Cats" which did in motion what the book could only do in words, and with a more subtle back-reference. "Calliope" was pretty well done, and Derek Jacobi bit off the nasty Erasmus Fry as he ought to have been bitten off. And Ric's descent into evil was admirably rewritten to be more subtle and less abrupt than in the book. But Calliope, unlike the picture in the book, didn't look remotely like someone who'd suffered what she'd suffered.

The "Sound of Her Wings" episode felt a little stiff and lifeless compared to the extraordinarily compelling book versions of those stories. Maybe they were trying to be too faithful in the adaptation.

Doll's House was better when it dared to be a little bit original, and worse when it tried too hard. It seems to me the adaptation made three basic changes in the story.
1. To eliminate the old DC character references. I can't say anything about that because I don't know anything about the old DC characters.
2. To cut down the role of coincidence in the story. Unfortunately that was done by increasing the sense of conspiracy. Thus, Jed doesn't hitch a ride with the Corinthian by coincidence: the Corinthian is already looking for him; thus, the conspiracy is after you. Even if Jed had gotten his note to the social worker out, it wouldn't have done any good, because the Corinthian immediately kills her. Way to go.
3. To give Rose more agency. This works well in some parts, such as her first confrontation with Morpheus: entirely original to the adaptation and brilliantly done. But it goes way overboard in the final episode, and it creates other problems as well. Thus, an enabled Rose can't be helpless in the face of the muggers but successfully defends herself to an extent improbable in someone with no training. And worse, it leaves Gilbert with nothing to do in his capacity as her champion and knight-errant. He feels superfluous, and his later reappearance becomes awkward and illogical. And Rose swiping name badges from the reg desk? That ought to have gotten her in deep trouble at any convention, however innocuous.

I liked some of the acting. Stephen Fry, as ever when it's not a Peter Jackson Hobbit movie, was almost ideal: though one was reference to Chesterton was perfect, two was too many. Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne was excellent as was Mason Alexander Park as Desire - both caught the essence of their characters ideally. Kyo Ra as Rose carried a difficult part with complete adequacy. But the Corinthian wasn't quite creepy enough, and the guy playing Nimrod kept looking as if he was about to turn into Wallace Shawn, which was distracting.

No comments:

Post a Comment