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Title: MirrorMask
Directed by:
Dave McKean
Written by:
Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean
Year: 2005

Few people in the world come close earning the admiration I feel for Neil Gaiman. He has written numerous novels and comic books which number among the best pieces of fiction that I know of. Therefore, it is not surprising that he manages to create something extraordinary in MirrorMask, together with Dave McKean, who seems to be able to vitalise their common creativity and make a truly unique experience.

MirrorMask is about a young girl, Helena, in a family of circus entertainers, who dreams herself away from everyday life through her marvellous paintings. After a quarrel between her parents, her mother falls ill and Helena is convinced that it is her fault. After falling asleep, she finds herself in a world eerily similar to her own drawings, a world torn apart by a war between the white and the black queen. Helena and her sidekick Valentine need to find the mirrormask, which will save the white queen and her kingdom.

It is indeed very rare that a film can survive on only being visually magnificent, but this is true for MirrorMask. I dare to say that it is the most fantastic visual tour de force I have ever experienced on the screen. Weird surrealism is mixed with fantastic concepts, all expertly executed in a way that makes me shiver with pleasure. In many ways, it feels like the more delirious parts of The Sandman.

Added to this, the basic concept of the film is also brilliant, although I think it lacks in execution. The storyline is a bit too straightforward and lacks the ingenuity of the aspects covered in the previous paragraph. I would not go as far as saying that it is bad, because I think that there is some merit in not miring in a complicated plot. If the plot were simple, but with a uniqueness on par with that of the graphics, this film would probably be one of my all-time favourites.

I hesitate before recommending this film. I think it is absolutely brilliant and worth watching only for the visual experience. Even if there were no story at all, no characters and no sound, I would still find it worthwhile. However, the film is surreal in a way I think many people find too strange. Usually, when other people think films are strange, I tend to like them, but I do not think it works the other way around. That being said, I still have to recommend MirrorMask, because it truly is a masterpiece.

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