Friday, September 14, 2012

A Lost "Last"/ Last "Lost" Tale...

I'm posting this link to one of the blogs I follow:

The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of...: The Witches: The Real Deal.: BEWARE! SPOILER ALERT! The scariest film I ever watched as a child was Nicolas Roeg's The Witches (1990). There were many scenes in films...

I had commented that "The Witches" was one of the last projects Jim Henson worked on before he died, but in truth, it was one of the last he oversaw. Henson was a very, very, very busy man for most of his adult life. In some alternate reality, he's the guy on Ed Sullivan's show who spins dozens of dinner plates. There are a lot of things that never saw the light of day and exist only on paper in file cabinets. For example, "Tale of Sand", a screenplay for a feature-length film which he co-wrote with Jerry Juhl.  It was adapted into a graphic novel with art by Ramon Perez and won an Eisner award. It is not the last screenplay that he worked on, but it was "lost" for a while.

We do love discovering lost things, don't we? We all thought "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" was Dr. Suess's last book, but then his wife found "Daisy-Head Mayzie", "My Many Colored Days" and "Hooray For Diffendorfer Day!". We thought "Go Slowly, Sands of Time" would be the last Disney Duck tale written by Carl Barks, but then came "Hang Gliders Be Hanged", "Horsing Around With History" and "Somewhere to Nowhere". We thought "Curtain"  was the final Hercule Poirot novel, but then Charles Osborne adapted the play "Black Coffee". We thought "Shoscombe Old Place" was the last Sherlock Holmes story written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but then came "The Final Adventures of Sherlock Holmes", which collected all the apocryphal material we never thought existed. We thought "Salmon of Doubt" was all the material Douglas Adams had left behind, until Gareth Roberts adapted "Doctor Who: SHADA" into a full-length novel that is required reading for anyone curious about Doctor Who now.There's always something "lost" - never "last", or "One of the last", or something to be rediscovered...

In the 60's Jim Henson directed, wrote and starred in a short live-action film , "Timepiece", which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short. The film is a series of jump-cuts to different sequences, all featuring Jim: Jim as a caveman running in the streets, Jim as a housepainter painting an elephant pink, Jim in a top hat and tuxedo jumping off a high diving board and into a pool, Jim as an escaped prisoner in stripes on the run, etc.. Then there's "The Cube" an hour-long drama that aired on NBC around the same time as Timepiece. "The Cube" is "Portal" without the portals - a man is stuck inside this white cell while others enter and exit freely, even interacting with him briefly. Both films have the potential to be pretty dark, but Jim seems to be enjoying it, so we're enjoying these meta-parables along with him.

"Tale of Sand" is "Timepiece" and "The Cube" for the widescreen. "a surrealistic comedy-drama", the introductory note describes, with most of the screentime set in the Southwest - the same battleground where Chuck Jones imagined those private battles between Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. There's very little dialogue. The protagonist of "Sand" is Mack, an everyman who walks into a densely populated western town with the diverse townsfolk celebrating his arrival. He is drafted by it's kindly Sheriff into a quest: it is not clear what that quest is. He is given a map and a rucksack full of supplies, is instructed to follow the map, but don't trust it, then sent on his way.

Throughout the journey, Mack is pursued/bedeviled by "Patch", a tall, dark, suave, well-dressed, wealthy and better-prepared antagonist, who is always handy with a bribe and almost-always accompanied by a mysterious blonde vixen. Strange things happen: signs pop up, wild animals pop up, buildings that are smaller on the outside/bigger on the inside turn up. Mack meets more enemies than friends and his quest devolves into a chase. Toward the end, the tale unravels and we start to get answers...maybe.

Had "Tale of Sand" been filmed, it probably would have been filmed earnestly at a quarter of the budget it demands, yet come off as a camp psychaedelic experience to anyone who saw it - it would have been "a groovy trip" spaghetti western. As a graphic novel, we get a chance to taste the images more and look for the meaning of what's happening - that is, if you would like it to have a meaning. It's not casual spending and I'm lucky the library had a copy, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to read it (it's not in any comic shops I've been to). It's worth a look.

No comments:

Post a Comment