A Life Of Fiction XVIII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work before purchasing it on the Kindle store; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Gas-lamp films and television: The last time I discussed some of the things which have influenced my gas-lamp fantasy writing. But now I would like to discuss other media: namely films and television. In my autobiography I have listed some of my favourite films of all time. But, in this blog entry, I don’t intend to go over old ground, but to recommend those films and television series which I hope may be of interest to those who enjoy gas-lamp fantasy or steampunk fiction. Of course this list is not exhaustive, as I have limited it to things which I have seen myself, so I’m sorry if I have missed out your favourite film. But I hope that it may point at least one person in the direction of something which they will enjoy.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: This was a television series down by Granada TV of the UK in the later 1980s. It does not have any fantastical elements, but is, without doubt, the adaptation which is closest to the Conan Doyle canon. It is recommended for anybody who is interested in the late Victorian era.

The series starred Jeremy Brett as Holmes. For me Brett is Holmes, more so than any of the other actors who have played the part.

Granada did several series of this, over a period of around ten years, with other series being The Return Of and The Casebook Of, and so on. The last ones they did, when Jeremy Brett was very ill, are not great adaptations. But I can recommend the early series, and especially their adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes novels The Sign of Four and The Hound of the Baskervilles. As I write these words I am watching A Scandal In Bohemia, from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Sleepy Hollow: I am a big fan of Johnny Depp, and of the director Tim Burton. I have been a fan of their pairing ever since Edward Scissorhands.

The film is set some time before the period in which I set my novels, as the story is supposed to take place in 1799 in America. But it is a good example of how to interweave fantastical elements into historical pieces. I like the fact that the Depp character comes to Sleepy Hollow expecting the legend to be false. Too often in fantastical films we have the main characters accept what is going on without questioning it. At least, here, the hero starts out with a healthy dose of scepticism.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The film is okay, especially if you have not read the comics. It is a perfect example of gas-lamp fantasy, bringing together some of the most iconic characters from the period. I watch it, occasionally. The only thing is that I know the source material, the Alan Moore comic from which it has been adapted, and I know how easily it could have been so much better. But I think that I can recommend this film, as there are several amazing set pieces in the work.

Check out the comics as well, though.

The Prestige: This is adapted from the Christopher Priest novel about two duelling stage magicians (rather than real wizards). I read the novel before seeing the film; again, I recommend that people check out the source material. But the film is a very good adaptation.

I don’t want to give away too much about the plot, as it is one of those films which does have a twist in the tale. But it does have an all too brief performance by David Bowie as the genius Nikola Tesla. I suppose you could say of his portrayal of Tesla that it was literally electrifying. Tesla was one of the most amazing inventors who ever lived, and I don’t think that we see enough of him in films.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec: This is a 2010 adaptation of a French comic and, yes, it is a French language film, so you will have to put up with subtitles. It is also set in the Edwardian, rather than Victorian era. But with its pterodactyl and resurrected mummies, it is certainly what I consider to be gas-lamp fantasy.

French films, even fantasy ones, have a different taste to big, Hollywood blockbusters. I don’t mind watching Hollywood films but, occasionally, you want to watch something which is a little bit different.


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