Fantastique: The Dream Worlds of French Cinema, a film season at the BFI in London, 24th October to 22nd November 2018. Opening with the talk “Le Fantastique: A Curious Tour of the French Weird”.
A trailer for the forthcoming documentary film “Clark Ashton Smith: The Emperor of Dreams”, which according to Derrick Hussey is set for public release “this fall by Hippocampus Press”, presumably as a DVD.
The Whole Wide World is set for release as a Blu-ray disc on 18th September.
“When a feisty teacher falls for an eccentric pulp writer [Robert. E. Howard], the two begin a tumultuous affair and find they have nothing in common but their passion.”
Currently only listing on Amazon USA, but the page there notes that “This item ships to the United Kingdom”.
For those expecting a depressive gloomy angst-fest about small-town small-mindedness, redneck violence and family illness, ending in tragic suicide… it’s a brighter movie than you might expect.
I read that the 106-minute DVD edition had vital scenes cut. In one Howard discusses his views on racial memory, and in another part Lovecraft is talked about. I hadn’t known about those scenes. It seems that many had seen these scenes in the big-screen version that screened at Sundance and in its cinema run, felt they were integral to the movie, and had expected to see them on the DVD. One hopes that it wasn’t the DVD distributor who demanded they be cut, to forestall a leftist twitterstorm about race. Back in 2012 Bobbie Derie’s blog commented that…
There are certain aspects of the film that make little sense without them [the deleted scenes]
The deleted scenes had been uploaded to YouTube in 2012, and were apparently available until 2015, but have now vanished from the Web. Nor does there appear to be a full script available online.
So we might hope that the Blu-ray has the five or six minutes of deleted scenes on it, which were not on the DVD.
However, I can nowhere find details of Blu-ray having any extras at all. None are mentioned by Multicom in its survey of its summer 2018 releases. It looks to me like it’s just a bare-bones Blu-ray, with the 106-minute cut-down movie shown in a higher resolution than it was on the DVD.
Die Farbe (“The Color Out of Space”), apparently one of the best film adaptations of Lovecraft, has just been released on a limited edition Blu-Ray of 1,000 copies by BrinkVision.
“Critics have called this H.P. Lovecraft adaption one of the most faithful Lovecraft films ever made. It has screened at over 50 film festivals worldwide, winning awards and receiving praise from critics and Lovecraft fans alike.”
Effects and concepts featurette.
15 language subtitles.
Faux newspaper cover insert.
I’m pleased to say I’ve now seen the 6.5 hour TV adaptation of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, treating it as a giant movie, and without reading the novel first. I can thoroughly recommend this excellent BBC adaptation.
There is much here to interest and entertain Lovecraft fans, both visually and intellectually. Although I see no direct or very obvious influence from Lovecraft. Instead Strange & Norrell taps into and recombines the Gothic novel (in the freshest way) with English fairy stories. It then lightly dabs on some inverted English ‘King Arthur lies sleeping’ myth, sprinkles a few touches of Middlemarch, and dumps in a bushel of magicians. It’s a successful mix, and thankfully manages to portray the occult without even a whit or a sniff of the inverted Christian pantomime exemplified by the tired old Crowley-ite / Dennis Wheatley tradition. The TV adaptation of Strange & Norrell is also refreshingly very light on gratuitous gore (other than a few war scenes), on plot-stopping bed-hopping romance, and on the sort of tedious 15-minute monologues on aberrant psychology that pad out Game of Thrones.
The closest possibility of a Lovecraft influence seems to be The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, which has many parallels with Strange & Norrell; practical magicians; reanimation; the long search for the reason for a character’s madness, and a few other close parallels I won’t reveal for fear of spoiling the plot of Strange & Norrell. Other apparent similarities are probably simply due to Lovecraft being a devout Anglophile — which means that both works tapped into the same English tradition of early modern magic (see my “What could Lovecraft and his circle have known of Doctor John Dee?” in Historical Context 3).
One might also idly point to “The Outsider” and the conception of monster-at-the-ball. But I’ve pointed out elsewhere that Lovecraft and Poe had a macabre historical inspiration and were anyway likely also resting on earlier fairy tales. The slight architectural similarity between “The Outsider” and Strange & Norrell could equally well arise from the first two books of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy, or real-life Gothic architecture in general. Or, in its magical connections and location, even certain aspects of Hogwarts.
There is of course a very strong similarity to the use of mirrors in Lovecraft & Whitehead’s “The Trap” (see my “Mirrored : reflections on Lovecraft’s reflections” in Historical Context 3), and even to the particular contents of the HPL/Whitehead mirror. But the lineage of the basic underlying mirror-world idea can be traced back to Alice and then to chapter 13 of Phantastes by George MacDonald and possibly beyond.
Incidentally, those interested in the English fairy tale tradition (yes, we do have one) after viewing Strange & Norrell, should see Joseph Jacobs’s 1890s collections English Fairy Tales (audio) and More English Fairy Tales (audio).
A quick look-see at the 2015 movies roster, and a quick slotting into their likeliest categories:
Bound to be pretty good: Star Wars: Episode VII; Avengers: Age of Ultron; Spectre (James Bond, sort-of futuristic); London Has Fallen (British sequel to the excellent-if-only-seen-once Olympus Has Fallen).
Ambitious: Jupiter Ascending (Wachowski space opera); The Martian (Earth tries to rescue a failed human landing on Mars); Tomorrowland (optimism for a failed future).
Entertaining-but-forgettable: Ant-Man (Marvel superhero); Lobo (DC superhero); The Last Witch Hunter (Vin Diesel as an immortal witch-hunter in New York).
Big dumb reboots (yawn…): Terminator; Jurassic Park; Mad Max; Predator; WarGames; The Man from U.N.C.L.E; The Fantastic Four (again!?); The Jungle Book (…why?).
Believe it when I see it: The Legend of Conan (Schwarzenegger!); 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Fox and Disney both, it seems)
Little star of hope: The Little Prince (animated).
Nothing worth mentioning in horror or supernatural (other than Vin Diesel), and fantasy seems to have retreated into kiddie animation or big family-friendly Cinderella / Peter Pan remakes. The historical epic / bio-pic space seems to have been totally ceded by Hollywood to the TV mini-series directors.
Perhaps I’m just over-sensitised to H.P. Lovecraft’s ideas, but it seems to me that the excellent new sci-fi blockbuster film Interstellar has some interesting elements drawn from Lovecraft’s fiction. I was expecting epic civilisation-building space opera on the Foundation scale, yet the film is anything but that. It’s much more down-to-earth, more of a deft melding of Sagan’s Contact and Clarke’s 2001 series. Click on to read spoilers… Continue reading
The Turner Classic Movies channel is airing the movie Berkeley Square (1933) in November in America (Sunday 23rd of November at 8:15am ET). Currently only available on grainy VHS tape or as a VHS rip, my guess would be that this Turner showing could be the restored 35mm print version which was first screened at the 2011 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.
At home — & on my own initiative — I saw Berkeley Square again … Talman & Long, who saw the play, say that the cinema version is slightly inferior. As you say, there are things about the transferred identities of the two Peters which tend to arouse questions [Lovecraft discusses plot points and historical accuracy for a page] But with all its defects this thing gave me an uncanny wallop. When I revisited it I saw it through twice — & I shall probably go again on its next return. It is the most weirdly perfect embodiment of my own moods & pseudo-memories that I have ever seen — for all my life I have felt as if I might wake up out of this dream of an idiotic Victorian age & an insane jazz age into the same reality of 1760 or 1770 or 1780 the age of the white steeples & fanlighted doorways of the ancient hill, & of the long-s’d books of the old dark attic trunk-room at 454 Angell St. (Selected Letters IV, pp.362-364)