Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hogfather

First of all, this is not Harry Potter, although Mr. Stibbons looks a bit like him. Don't worry if the title of this post doesn't tell you anything ... it only shows you're not reading Terry Pratchett novels.

"Hogfather" is the second novel dealing with Death's granddaughter Susan (and the fourth dealing with Death himself). Now, one might ask how a seven-foot-skeleton can possibly have a granddaughter. Well, Death had a daughter by adoption and the girl finally married his apprentice (who was another of those ideas his servant Albert despises). Both Susan's parents are dead by now, but strangely enough (though it's not that strange on the Discworld) she has inherited some abilities from her grandfather. She can use his tools (a scythe and a sword, both fit to cut souls from the body), she can walk through doors and walls (as there's no way of keeping Death out) and she can even do The Voice. After leaving school, Susan has first (in "Hogfather") become a governess and later on (in "Thief of Time") even a teacher. She's scarily good at it.

"Hogfather" also establishes the Auditors, forces of the universe that try to create and maintain order in the chaos that life brings (and thus can't stand any form of life, starting with bacteria and working its way up to humans). Unlike Death, who likes humans a lot, the Auditors thrive to destroy mankind - and all the anthropomorphic personifications humans on Discworld have created. Those include, beside Death, also the "Hogfather", the Discworld's equivalent to Santa Claus, and the Tooth Fairy (which, in "Hogfather" also has another job).



But I'm not writing this post about a novel that's been out for quite a while because I suddenly feel the notion to (especially as "Hogfather" is set around the time of Discworld-Christmas and my favourite read for this season), but because I finally acquired the movie. The movie has not been shown or distributed in Germany, but over amazon I got the version from the UK (which, luckily, has the same region code as Germany).

I do have a weak point for the novels dealing with Death and Susan (because they're both quite interesting characters) and I like good movies. My experience with British movies has been very good in the past, so I didn't think I'd risk too much in ordering the DVD.

After watching the three-hour-movie (it was actually produced as a two-parter for TV), I must say that it's just great - and I shall definitely include it in this year's Christmas rituals. Luckily my English is even far better than I thought - and so I could fully enjoy the whole movie.



The actors for the characters were well chosen, from Susan, Death (who has both a body and a voice) or Mr. Teatime (the villain of the tale) right down to minor characters like Nobby Nobbs and Constable Visit from the City Watch. I personally found the wizards of Unseen University especially funny (most of the faculty have gathered around HEX, the thinking machine, in the picture about this paragraph). But, to be honest, they're always funny.

The story is very true to the novel, with a few minor details left out (otherwise the movie might easily have been six hours long instead...). It balances out the grim aspects of the stories (like the murders Mr. Teatime does commit) with the funny ones (and there's a lot of them).

And it uses the many special effects in a very discreet way. They are there, but you won't notice them easily. Well, some of them, obviously. It's hard to ignore there's not a lot of flying horses around ... and even when you throw a poker through a skeleton, it's bound to hit something on the way through - the spine, if nothing else. Nevertheless, the movie never gives the impression of simply being build up on the special effects. They are necessary in some parts (and I've never seen a better likeness of the Discworld itself, plus the elephants and the turtle, of course), but there are there to tell the story, not just to be.


As an addition I will admit here that Mr. Teatime somehow reminded me of a German actor (although he's been in international films) who's been dead for quite some time: Klaus Kinski. Mr. Kinski was specialized in playing villains, he was blond (though he's not had two different eyes) and even the face and the voice pattern fit scarily with that of Mr. Teatime (who pronounces his own name Te-A-tim-E - but that's a villain's vanity for you...). If I were inclined to believe in reincarnation, I'd put my money on it that Mr. Marc Warren (the actor who plays Mr. Teatime) actually is the reincarnation of Mr. Kinski.


On the whole the only thing I can say about "Hogfather" is this: If you've got any interest whatsoever in Fantasy, watch it!

2 comments:

Kate said...

Thanks for the heads up! I am a BIG Pratchett fan....Wee Free Men being my personal favorite. I had no idea there was a movie made of any of them...

Kate...running off to Amazon

Normal said...

There are a lot, these I found and saw:
Johnny and the bomb
Soul Music from Terry Pratchett's Discworld
Terry Pratchett's Hogfather
Colour of Magic
Terry Pratchett's Johnny And The Dead (VHSRip)
Wyrd Sisters

And read all the funny, wise and interesting books of his. ;)