If Harry Potter and Doctor Who had a brainchild–and it was born roughly around christmas–this is what it would look like. I know I’m a little late on this movie. It’s been out for a while. But I couldn’t get a hold of it, because it was a British movie, and I never saw it in stores, or ever heard any big hype about it. I only saw a random preview of it, and I’ve been wanting to see it ever since. This movie is pretty awesome. It’s a bit sacrilegious at many points, but that’s because of its semi-existential nature. If you want to see it, don’t read the blog cause it will be full of spoilers. If you aren’t sure, then read on, curious meanderer!!!
(Also note, I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know if I’m committing some sort of literary atrocity by just doing a movie review.)
It starts with a creation story of the Discworld, as the setting for this mythical reality. The plot becomes immediately interesting as a bunch of spectres hire the guild of assassins to kill… Santa Clause. However, in this world, he is known as the Hogfather, has a pig’s face, and his sleigh is driven by boars instead of deer. The remarkable similarities of the holiday Hogswatch to our Christmas is dismissed as coincidence (sure).
The assassin is one of the creepiest characters I’ve seen in a long time. You might laugh at him at first for his odd quirks, but eventually he will make you shudder beneath your blanket. He devises a plot to kill the Hogfather by destroying all belief in him. He kills his way into the Tooth Fairy’s castle, and puts a spell on all the teeth, so that he can control children’s beliefs. Death personified catches onto the plot, as the Hogfather’s hourglass is emptying far too quickly. So he substitutes for the Hogfather in order to keep the spirit and faith in him alive. I found it absolutely hilarious, as Death proves to be more generous and ethical than Santa. This is one of the qualities that has made me fall in love with this movie.
Death’s inquisitive grand-daughter turns out to be the hero. She pokes her nose where it doesn’t belong, and learns that the Hogfather used to be a pagan sacrificial god that kept the sun rising. The incontrovertible result of his death would be the end of life as we know it. But it wouldn’t just kill life; the spectres want him wiped out of history completely. The spectres represent (tentatively) the spirit of scientific logic, and the desire to destroy dreams and myths. Near the end of the movie–SPOILER ALERT–Death explains that mankind needs mythology in order to ever make their dreams come true.
The movie takes a lot of artistic license, and creates a tongue-and-cheek relationship to myth and fable. The fourth wall is never broken, but there are very obvious slights at literary flexibility and cliches. A highly original story, with beautiful, complex characters. The message is a little choppy and controversial, but it develops in a fun way. The whole thing is drenched in that lovely, dry, British humor that I have to be in a mood for to appreciate. This is like a British version of the Disney adult miniseries 10th Kingdom, though certainly more existential in nature. Overall, I loved the movie, and I feel I need to watch it again, but I’m going to give it a little break for a while.