Review

Mirrormask: The Illustrated Film Script of the Motion Picture From the Jim Henson Company

by Neil Gaiman



In 2001, the Jim Henson Company contacted writer Neil Gaiman and
artist Dave McKean about doing a film. Now, four years later, the
product of all their hard work has come to fruition in the form of
MirrorMask. While the film is slated for release later this
year, Gaiman and McKean have put together a collector's book --- a
companion that enhances one's understanding of how a film of this
design comes into creation.

Complete with over 1,700 of McKean's storyboards, as well as the
full screenplay written by Gaiman, MIRRORMASK is a fairy tale
adventure that follows the story of Helena, the daughter of a
circus family whose only wish is to abandon her life amongst
performers and enter the real world. She engages in a heated
discussion with her parents about her future with the circus, and
soon after her mother falls gravely ill.

On the night before her mother goes in for surgery, Helena dreams
she is in a mysterious and magical new world. In this world of two
kingdoms, one land is eternally filled with light while the other
is always shrouded in darkness. The balance is shifting in this new
world as the daughter of the Dark Queen steals the MirrorMask from
the castle of the White Queen. The White Queen then slips into a
sleep from which she cannot be awakened. The only way to restore
her is to seek out and bring her the MirrorMask.

The question Helena comes to ask is whether it is all a dream or is
it something else entirely. She comes to believe that what she
changes in the dream world will affect the real world. Thus, using
the logic of dream worlds, her mother will be healed if she helps
the White Queen. With the aid of the crafty juggler, Valentine,
Helena sets out to retrieve the MirrorMask.

Gaiman weaves a beautiful tale where much is familiar and yet
wholly new. The cast of characters is colorful and engaging,
especially Valentine, who is both hysterically funny and also
suspicious enough to be wary of. His writing style always has been
one of great visual impact --- when reading a Gaiman work you can
close your eyes and see his images in your mind. MIRRORMASK is no
exception. Although McKean's artwork accompanies the text, you
still can feel the visual component of Gaiman's words calling you
to this new world.

Of equal interest are the letters sent between Gaiman and McKean
that are included in the back of the book. These 20+ pages offer us
insight into how the film came to be, from its creation in Gaiman's
mind to its refining in McKean's hands. It also affords the reader
the opportunity to see the editorial process as names and actions
from Gaiman's initial vision changed by the time the screenplay was
complete.

The germs of this tale came to life while Gaiman and McKean stayed
in Jim Henson's house. Surrounded by all the magical elements of
Jim's world, they set about the writing of the film. In reading the
resulting book, they have succeeded in creating a world easily
accessible to children and adults, and reawakened the wonder in all
of us.

Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on January 7, 2011

Mirrormask: The Illustrated Film Script of the Motion Picture From the Jim Henson Company
by Neil Gaiman

  • Publication Date: May 1, 2005
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Screenplay
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0060798750
  • ISBN-13: 9780060798758