Tuesday, September 05, 2006

All Hail Gormenghast

I finally caught up with Gormenghast, the 4-part BBC miniseries. Don't you hate it when you see part of a miniseries, then miss the rest, and BBC America never runs it again? Me too.
Gormenghast is based on a series of novels published in the 50's by Mervyn Peake, and it's kind of a fairy tale. It feels like one anyway, all bright colors, cartoonish exaggerated characters and castle-y architecture. But there is no monster, no talking animals. And in place of the simple comfort of modern fairy tales, there is the creepy dread of the brothers Grimm. In this fairy tale, the kind is driven mad and allows himself to be pecked to death by owls.
The story concerns a lowly kitchen boy, Steerpike, who wishes to advance his station in life. And I mean lowly. The kitchen is a hellish basement run by a brutal pig of a man who'd just as soon beat his staff to death as eat breakfast. Steerpike, who is clever, escapes. Surveying his new surroundings, he realizes that the kingdom of Gormenghast is ancient, corrupt and decaying and that it won't take much to game the system to his advantage. Steerpike is played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, who has carved a niche for himself playing amoral social climbers in movies like HEDWIG AND AND ANGRY INCH and MATCH POINT.
Oh forget it... I don't want to go into too much detail except to say that the thing gets under your skin and may produce the best nightmares you'll ever have. It's a fairy tale produced by a man who had toured the Nazi ovens at Belsen just a few years earlier. Rent it today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Eh, that show is OK. Caught only the first installment, of course.

The one to watch on BBC America is LIFE ON MARS.

Hey: Cindy's new hubby Danny digitized the first Book of the Rio! Need a copy?