WEIRDLAND: American Gods, Labyrinth, Fantasy Movies

Thursday, March 23, 2017

American Gods, Labyrinth, Fantasy Movies

American Gods is an American television series created by Bryan Fuller and Michael Green for Starz, based on the novel by author Neil Gaiman. Its premise is what if all the ancient gods were still around and waging a war against the new gods of technology and media? The series focuses on Shadow Moon, a man who is just released after serving three years in prison. Shadow meets a man named Wednesday, who offers Shadow a job. Wednesday appears to be a con artist but is in fact the god Odin. Wednesday is making his way across America, gathering all the old gods, who have now incorporated themselves into American life, to confront the New Gods, including Media and Technology, who grow stronger. Left feeling like he is looking at the world from the bottom of a well, Shadow must literally walk his heroes' path back to a time where he even resembles sanity.

American Gods is a Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel by English author Neil Gaiman. The plot is a blend of Americana, fantasy, and various strands of ancient and modern mythology, all centering on the mysterious and taciturn protagonist Shadow. A special tenth anniversary edition, with the author's preferred text and including an additional 12000 words, was published in June 2011.

American Gods premieres on Starz on April 30. Gillian Anderson assumes in American Gods the role of the shape-shifting god, Media, the “new Goddess” of television, that’s to say a Goddess who’s been engendered by contemporary collective American desires. As opposed to the Old Gods, engendered by religion and myth, the new Gods are a result of a new form of religiousness: the cult to celebrities. 

Media takes the form of assorted icons: David Bowie, Marilyn Monroe, etc. In Labyrinth (1986), a musical fantasy film directed by Jim Henson, produced by George Lucas, Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) initiates a coming of age fantastic journey in search of Jareth, the Goblin King (David Bowie). Sarah is much like The Neverending Story's Bastian and Return To Oz's Dorothy in this respect. Her character has echoes of Alice in Wonderland's Alice, and Snow White, too. She's a romantic soul who prefers books, stories and her imagination to the real world. Sarah's route to adulthood is a convoluted trek through a magical world where normal logic doesn't apply. Critic Bruce Bailey admired the film's script, stating in The Montreal Gazette: "Terry Jones has drawn on his dry wit and bizarre imagination and come up with a script that transforms these essentially familiar elements and plot structures into something that fairly throbs with new life."

Bailey was also impressed by the film's depth, writing, "adults will have the additional advantage of appreciating the story as a coming-of-age parable." Bowie's music fits the story perfectly: the breezy ‘Magic Dance’, the darkly romantic ‘As the World Falls Down’, the celebratory ‘Underground’ and the menacing ‘Within You’, which is performed during a striking scene inspired by MC Escher’s lithograph print ‘Relativity.’ Combining the puppetry magic of director and legendary creator of The Muppets Jim Henson with the concept design of fantasy illustrator Brian Froud (who previously worked with Henson on The Dark Crystal), Labyrinth is a gorgeous demonstration of ‘old school’ special effects that rely on matte paintings, puppetry and other in-camera visual effects in contrast to modern CGI effects. There is a tangibility to the film that makes its dream logic inspired sequences and playful manipulation of perception even more impressive. As a regular follower of free fantasy movies online, you'll always find free time to stream a delighttul escapist movie, and you can count on 1movies to indulge your fantasies.

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