Mustrum Ridcully -
Voice of Death -
Lord Downey -
The Toy Maker -
OTHER TERRY PRATCHETT SHOWS
The Colour of Magic
The head of the assassins' guild in Ankh-Morpork, largest city on the Discworld, is approached by a shadowy being who wishes to put a contract out on the Hogfather. This proves to be something of a difficult contract to fulfil as the Hogfather bears a striking resemblance to one Father Christmas. Of course, on Discworld, there is no question as to The Hogfather's existence and the very creepy student assassin Mr Teatime (pronounced Tay-a-tim-ay) happens to have a plan, a plan that involves ancient magics and children's teeth. What he hadn't counted on was interference from Death himself and Death's very different granddaughter Susan.
At the SCI FI FREAK SITE we love Terry Pratchett. We don't use the word genius easily, but we believe he is a literary one. His books are required reading for anyone who enjoys the fantasy genre.
The problem with adapting Pratchett's work is that his plots are usually pretty straightforward and thin (Assassin wants to kill Hogfather. Death and granddaughter must stop him). What makes the books so great are the incidental delights, the extraneous information, the wonderful characters. In short, the writing. Take away the actual writing and problems begin to arise. HOGFATHER's plot struggles to fill out the running length of the two episodes, making a lot of what is enchanting in the book seem like padding on the screen. Take, for example, the whole situation surrounding the wizards' chancellor and the bathroom built by Bloody Stupid Johnson. The book has the time to give backstory, build comic tension and deliver a kicker of a punchline. Here, the whole sequence is fluffed and irrelevant. In fact, the inclusion of the wizards at all could be questioned were it not for the relevance of Hex, their magical computer, to the latter stages of the story.
What can be said for HOGFATHER is that it certainly looks the part. From the opening shot of the Discworld sat on the shoulders of giant elephants, themselves stood on the shell of the star turtle A'Tuin, the audience is plunged into a world that has jumped right off the page. Every setting, be it the Tooth Fairy's castle, the Hogfather's keep, the house of Death or simply the office of the head of the Assassins' Guild is perfect.
The casting is also close to perfect (not to mention packed to the small roles with British stars). Michelle Dockery is spot on as Susan, the no-nonsense governess who turns out to be Death's granddaughter. When she's on screen, things perk up considerably. Marc Warren is never quite as threatening or creepy as he ought to be as Mr Teatime, but that might have something to do with the silly voice he adopts. The third main character is Death himself, marvellously rendered, just like he is described in the book and wonderfully voiced by Ian Richardson. He is the triumph of the whole show. David Jason, Nigel Planer, Joss Ackland and David Warner never quite make the impact they should.
And then there are the ideas, the wonderful inentiveness of the author, that manages to shine through. How to kill Christmas, computerised belief, the importance of the tooth fairy.
Overall HOGFATHER falls flat more often than it flies, but looks utterly wonderful. Hopefully someone will figure out how to successfully adapt Discworld for the screen (big or small), but if Mr Pratchett himself can't do it (he had input) then what hope for anyone else? Until they do, we'll go back to the books.Top
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