The kids and I watched Cars 2 tonight, and we got the hint in the “Air Mater” short about planes. I dug around on the disc a bit and found the Planes trailer. I watched it in slack-jawed disbelief. Mostly because I couldn’t see how Pixar would settle for having a White Zombie song as the background music for . . . ANYTHING.
But then, at the end, I saw the telltale reason. Planes is a DISNEY movie. Not a Disney Pixar movie. Not a Pixar movie. A DISNEY movie.
And Disney never passed up an opportunity to wring everything magical out of a property in the search for squeezing parents out of a few more dollars.
I have to admit that when I first saw the trailer for Cars 2 and the fact that it was a joint production between Disney and Pixar, I was afraid. Needlessly so, as it turned out because I found Cars 2 to be better than the first, but that may have more than a little bit to do with the fact that I’m one of those dads for whom all the James Bond gags are written for, plus I can tell how much fun Eddie Izzard and Michael Caine are having. Always a bonus.
But, pursuant to the topic of my last post, I suppose you can’t blame Disney. They do know they have a dedicated content consumption pipeline. Why wouldn’t you keep it filled?
And you know Rob Zombie cashed that licensing check without a moment’s hesitation. Hell, I would too.
I stumbled upon the trailer to David Fincher’s upcoming version of Steig Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and have been somewhat distracted by it. More than a little, really. Go watch the trailer if you haven’t seen it. I’ll wait.
- Much like the boat racing scene in The Social Network, the pacing of the images is tied to the music. In this case, it’s a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” with vocals by Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Each image changes with the beat of the music. Motion in the trailer is either up or to the right, directions consistent with what I’ve heard about the subliminal aspects of movement in media (moving to the right is considered forward motion–looking to the future).
- You’re in constant motion, and the climax of the trailer is an approach to the house as the tagline starts to flash. Do you find yourself dreading ever reaching the house? I do. It’s a fairly unassuming house, but it is bound with snow and the image has that creepy sort of white light (which isn’t in many of the other scenes, mind you, even though much of the book takes place during winter). If you’ve read the book, you might fear that house, but even if you haven’t, you’re thinking, “Creepy fucking house.” You might even be flashing to the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. But the music–which we all know as love, even though it’s a new version of “Immigrant Song,”–is starting break down. It’s the sort of aberrant noise that I don’t mind, but I know that it interrupts rhythm and forces us to either engage more fully or to switch off.
- It’s been a while since I’ve read the Millennium Trilogy, but I seem to remember The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo being somewhat of the least action-oriented of the three (courtroom drama of The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest notwithstanding), and yet, at first pass, you think the film is going to leave you breathless. Watching it again, it becomes more clear that it is a series of shots of people being very British (Eddie Izzard style) with each other, but all of the expressions are filled with fear, angst, or sadness, leaving you with no idea why everyone is so overwrought, but OMG! you want to find out.
- I’ve already tried to find the song. It’s not available, as far as I can tell. Which means if I want to talk about the song or share it with friends, I have to tell them to go watch the trailer. That’s a bit of brilliant marketing right there.
Anyway, I know it is just a teaser trailer, and I’m sure we’ll be bludgeoned by lots and lots of variants that spoil a great deal of the story, but I do like the teasers. They have to be visceral. They have to grab you. They have to do their job without words, and as my job is all about using words, I like figuring out how to do more with less.
The interesting experiment about Immortel is the mix of high-end industrial CGI, mo-cap rendered CGI (the people), lots of green screen work, model work, and various ambient flourishes. Oh, and old school monster effects. It’s all mixed together without breaking the fourth wall, lending everything an I meant to do that feel. Very much a combination of The Fifth Element and Amélie with lots of Egyptian symbolism and no dearth of near-apocalyptic texturing.
So many little things to like about the film.
- The texturing on the doctor’s face who is observing Jill with Dr. Turner in the beginning. You’re never quite sure if he’s CGI or not.
- The outside lighting is over-saturated enough than John’s dark mask and clothes make him appear to be a hole in space more than a man in black.
- Thomas Kretschmann plays Nikopol, and his voice is deliciously ragged and English is just alien enough to him that playing a man dislocated in time comes so very naturally. Also, are all the live-action actors speaking English while all the CGI characters dubbed in English (from French, I would assume)?
- One of Dr. Turner’s patients is wearing a skin-tight shirt that is a amalgamation of several panels from one of Bilal’s graphic novels. Awesome awesome costume.
- The shadow overlay of Horus on Nikopol. Never over-used. Always effective.
- Nikopol: “I’m no carpenter.” Heh.
- The scene where the Dayak takes the black box from the cop’s head. He’s a rubber monster; the cop is CGI; and a cut-away to the cop’s gun is a flesh and blood guy. Which makes you wonder if every shot is composed with a specific mix of compositional elements in mind in order to create a very stylized story.
- Jill, sitting in the tub and and crying blue tears until the tub is full.
It’s a different version of the graphic novel, cherry picking elements and creating new ones altogether. As Bilal wrote and directed the film, it’s not an adaptation so much as a re-envisioning. Always interesting to see an artist re-examine their work. Ha. Bilal even says “loosely based” in the end credits.
Thinking about it more, I realize it isn’t an adaptation. It’s almost a Rashamon-style exploration of some of the events of The Nikopol Trilogy. For one, Immortel is Horus’s story (right down to the ad vitam parenthetical of the title), and Nikopol and Jill are players in that story, ones who never quite find their places (tools of the god, after all). Nikopol’s immortality is explored in the graphic novel and is, in my mind, a more bittersweet and poignant resolution than what is offered in the film.
Which leads to an on-going discussion that we’re having at Subutai about media properties and this new shiny thing called transmedia. Not every story translates well to different mediums. Immortel is a perfectly fine film narrative; The Nikopol Trilogy is well suited to being a graphic novel. Both complement the other, but are not required. But to engage with Enki Bilal on this content is to partake of both and be cognizant of the differences.
We started watching Immortel last night. I found a Blu-Ray edition in the cheap bins the other day, and as the old DVD I had was a somewhat suspect Russian-made all-region DVD, I snapped it up. I’m glad I did. Blu-Ray makes for much better viewing, and a lot of the animation is more seamless than I remember. Unfortunately, we were tired enough that we didn’t make it far into the film, but it is a film that tried–rather faithfully–to translate the graphic novel to the screen while still leveraging some of the aspects of film that you can’t do well with a graphic novel.
Plus it’s Enik Bilal. The Nikopol Trilogy was one of the first book reviews I ever had published.