Friday, December 4, 2009

Hogfather Adaptation

Based on the book by Terry Pratchett
Release Date: December 17th, 2006
Starring: Ian Richardson, David Jason, Michelle Dockery, Marc Warren, Nigel Planer, Tony Robinson, Terry Pratchett
Rating: ★★★
To Buy

Having just finished reading Terry Pratchett's Hogfather awhile back, I decided it was time to give the miniseries another chance. I'd only ever watched the first part of the two part adaptation and felt a little lost, having only just started reading Discworld. Then after the dreadful adaptation of The Color Magic (dreadful for the horrendous miscasting of Rincewind, he's supposed to be young-ish, tall and skinny, in other words, not David Jason, aka a short 69 year old). I was hesitant to watch Hogfather in the chance that something would really piss me off (still bitter about David Jason, especially because I thought Sean Astin would be awful and he turned out to be good). But overall this was wonderfully cast and perfectly done if not for DEATH. The problem is technical, nothing else. Ian Richardson was superb as the voice of DEATH, it's DEATH's appearance I have qualms with. In my mind, my interpretation of Terry Pratchett's DEATH is very nebulous, lots of cloak and a vague creepy chilling sensation that overcomes you. Yes he's a seven foot tall skeleton, but the less seen, the creepier, like Jaws. The fact that you can never quite put your finger on what bothers you when you're in his presence, just that you want to get away. Taking a character that I akin to something you see out of the corner of your eye and literally making him a seven foot tall kind of cartoony skeleton does not work. It looks comical and not in the least bit scary. The rest of the cast, in particular Marc Warren as Teatime and Michelle Dockery as Susan were so perfectly cast you feel they ARE the characters.

Aside from DEATH, I just had the feeling that this was a sub-par adaptation of one of the best Pratchett books. But the thing is, upon reflection, I don't think there really is a way to make a successful Pratchett adaptation. The way his books are written don't lend themselves to a visual translation that's to be broadcast fortnightly. I think this might be the lack of overall narrative exhibited in his writing. There is an arc and an end point but it's the little side journeys that matter, the little revelations he makes along the way that are culled for an adaptation. And the thing is, once all these little moments are cut here and there the overall feel is different, the lose of faith and the need for belief that are so integral to this book seems almost non existent in the miniseries. It was ok, just not the brilliance one associates with Pratchett. Although not to fully discount the adaptation, there was one moment of perfection which had me on the floor laughing. But first a history lesson, so you can fully appreciate the joke and not think I'm insane, anymore than you already do: Ian Richardson's most famous role ever was Frances Urquhart in the House of Cards trilogy. His most famous line: "You might think that, but I could not possibly comment." You can only imagine my glee when DEATH said this to his faithful henchman Albert! Brilliant! Look for it, it's in part one.


why do you brits always get the best magical tv? it's no fair!

This is actually available on DVD, oh... most countries now I think. Once it makes it stateside it's a sure bet it's also everywhere...

Fun fact: Diskworld is the most shoplifted series in the UK. NBow that's a bragging right!

I loved it when Death had his House of Cards moment too. Hogfather is probably my favourite Disc novel, so while I did enjoy the adaptation it never really seemed to live up to my expectations, pretty much for all the good points you make. Ian Richardson really had the perfect voice for Death.

I miss Ian Richardson... he died too soon, in particular because he was going to film an episode of Midsomer Murders the next week...

Post a Comment

Newer Post Older Post Home