This was apparently commissioned by the Henson company when they realised just what strong sellers their films ‘The Dark Crystal’ and ‘Labyrinth’ had proven to be on sell-through video (and, more recently, DVD), so they approached Neil Gaiman (comic writer and novelist) and Dave McKean (artist, to put it mildly) to make a film. And this film is the result, telling the tale of Helena, who finds herself in another world and on a quest to find the Mirrormask, which – she’s told – will save both this dying otherworld, and her life in the world she’s used to.
It’s a very British-feeling film, both in terms of the cast, and the setting (until things go all otherworldly, that is), so in all honesty I don’t know how much of an international appeal it’ll prove to have. That aside, it looks great to see McKean’s style brought to life – I can only begin to imagine how much of a ‘wow’ it would elicit from someone who’s not familiar with his work, as it’s very distinctive.
The story relies perhaps a little bit too much on ‘dream logic’, but it’s ultimately nicely rounded off, and the playing by all the cast is strong, especially the young woman playing Helena. Oddly enough, even though I saw it at the ICA, where you’d expect the sound and vision to be pretty good, it came over as rather poppy and crackly, with the occasional jump in the film, though I guess there might not be too many copies of the film doing the theatrical rounds, so maybe this one was a bit tired?
Anyway, that’s all a side issue, as I’d guess the majority of people will watch it at home. And I’ll certainly do the same, as it feels as if it’d be something to return to. Definitely worth a look.