Mirrormask, written by Neil Gaiman and directed by Dave McKean is full of fantasy from the
very beginning. The story follows Helena Campbell, who is more than fed up with her life as a
circus performer. Even though she wants to experience the “real world” she’s torn between leaving
her family’s business for good or staying and helping her father live out his dream.
After her mother becomes ill, Helena falls asleep and wakes up in a completely different world.
This new world, called the “City of Light” is full of people with masks for faces and a variety of
creatures. As Helena, along with her new juggling partner Valentine try to navigate through the
city, she is mistaken for the princess of the Land of Shadows. The Queen has been secretly
watching her every move and has been planning to take her back. Helena proves her innocence
and is eventually taken in by the City of Light. After setting out to find the MirrorMask, a charm that
will restore the balances between the two cities, she discovers that the true princess has used the
MirrorMask in order to go to Helena’s world through a series of drawings that Helena created.
Once she is discovered, the princess tries to destroy all of the drawings to prevent Helena from
finding the same gateway and coming back to her real life. She fails and all is restored.
There are some seriously great parts of this film. Particularly, in that of the art style and
animation. The creatures and characters in Helena’s alternate world resemble that of Picasso
paintings. Plus, there is a lack of bright colors which makes the entire movie seem more intriguingly
disturbing. There are also the beautiful masks and costumes throughout the entire movie. Their
classic style add to the eerie aspect of the film.
However, I did have a problem with the overall plot and its execution. It jumps around quite
often and seems to be a random mixture of different obstacles that Helena has to go through in
order to find the MirrorMask. Usually, the tasks are somewhat related and there is more
explanation, but there are weird golems and guardians that just seem out of place. Also, the
dialogue can kind of be cheesy at times. Regardless of this though, this adds to the entire
eccentric qualities of the movie and the characters within it. Something about this film begs to be
separated from that of the typical fantasy film and, when you really think about it, who say fantasy
films have rules anyway? Overall, MirrorMask is definitely worth checking out.
Fantasy Flashback: MirrorMask (2005)
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Director: Dave McKean
Starring: Stephanie Leonidas, Jason Barry, Rob Brydon, Gina McKee, Dora Bryan