|My Comments On The Dark Shadows Movie
||[Jun. 3rd, 2012|11:57 pm]
|||||Roundworn - An Act Of Parody||]|
There are basically 2 kinds of people who will see this movie – those who are familiar with the original show, and those that aren’t. I grew up with the show. So, when it comes to the blanks that the people who haven’t seen the show tend to complain about, they’re not blanks to me.
Unfortunately, I think both Burton and Depp are also overly familiar with the show. Otherwise I think they would have thought twice about leaving so much unexplained for the uninitiated.
But, I knew going in that there were going to be blanks, because blanks are the natural result of trying to cram a thousand episodes of a soap opera into one movie. There’s just no way to avoid it coming out compressed.
I, personally, think that compression makes for bad story telling. That’s why I avoid it in my own work. I want that freedom they had in the original Dark Shadows series to leave no blank unfilled, no character underdeveloped, and to have no limits on how long I can take to do all this.
As a matter of fact, one of the things I try to do with Spectral Shadows is to capture something of what I got out of the original Dark Shadows, because I know nobody else is going to be able to do that with the time restrictions they have to deal with.
Yes, it’s all very personal to me. As I said to Friend Jason as we were getting in the car to go to the theater, “This is why I am the way I am. All my tendencies to be non-conventional, overly art conscious, spiritually minded, and geared towards the quirky rather than the ordinary stem from growing up with that show. It was that much of an influence.”
Naturally, when anybody redoes a show that was a big influence on me, I have unreasonably high expectations. Indeed, I can’t think of any attempt to revive a show that influenced me that I’ve been totally ok with, with the single exception of Star Trek TNG. I’m totally disinterested in the new Doctor Who. And I wasn’t terribly impressed with the Star Wars prequels.
I’m a firm believer in the notion that magic happens at the genesis of an idea, and you’ll never stir up that much magic for a revival. If something needs to be revived, that means it’s already tired. You’re far more likely to stir up magic trying to do something original.
Another hang up that plagues Dark Shadows revivalists is they all try to recycle the old story and characters. But it wasn’t really the story and characters that provided the magic for that show. It was the actors. And the actors were a product of their times. There will never be actors like those again who can do what they did.
My theory has always been, if you want to recapture that magic, you write a new story with new characters, new situations, new elements, and you just develop it spontaneously. That’s the magic – likeable characters in incredulously impossible situations, played seriously over a long period of time, never letting the mystery of what’s going to happen next out of the reader’s mind.
If you can’t do all that, forget it. You’ll never come close to touching the original Dark Shadows. And, of course, Tim Burton can’t do that in a single movie. So I didn’t go in expecting it. What I expected was a parody, and that’s exactly what I got.
As a parody of a show I know inside and out, I found this movie to be highly entertaining. There were some things that struck me as glaringly wrong, like the white complexion on the vampire which eliminates any possibility of him trying to fit in, or of hiding what he is. But then I realize that this is just another aspect of parody. It’s much funnier if the vampire tries to fit in with everyone knowing what he is.
Another thing about this movie is that, while I can fill in the blanks that refer to the original series, I can’t fill in the blanks that relate to modern pop culture, which I’m very out of touch with. So, in a way, I can sympathize with the main character who is out of his own time.
Speaking of time, I very much enjoyed that they set the time for the movie as the early 70’s, rather than the mid 60’s. It gave them an excuse to use some great music and pop culture references. Having Alice Cooper in the film was a nice touch.
I was really surprised that Depp was able to pull off the role believably. Well, believable in a parody sense anyway. He proved that he has the voice and the style to play the character seriously if he wants to. But the lines he’s given to say are meant to be funny. So we don’t get a chance to see what he could do if he were given the chance. Yet, the parody aspect of the movie kind of depends on him playing the character believably.
I mean believably in that you can accept him as Barnabus, even if you’re intimately familiar with Jonathan Frid’s performance of the character. It’s because I can see a shadow of Jonathan Frid in Depp’s performance that the parody works for me. If that wasn’t there, the character would be a stranger to me, and I’d have to be taking the movie entirely on its own merits. Then it would come off as one of the worse bad movies of all time.
But as it is I like it. I feel like it’s a parody that was made to a large extent with me in mind. And, in this day and age, how often does anyone consider me when making a movie?