The Horror Honeys: A Guest Saturday Creature Feature with Linnie!

A Guest Saturday Creature Feature with Linnie!

MirrorMask (2005)

"We often confuse what we wish for with what is."

I know what you're thinking.

"Oh, here comes Linnie, tromping all over Suzanne's beloved series celebrating the best of classic creature cinema with a movie made in the last decade? WHAT A BITCH!"

And you'd be right on several accounts. No; I didn't watch Dave McKean's MirrorMask as a wild-eyed wee Honeybee with a bowl full of Lucky Charms and mug full of hot chocolate. I watch MirrorMask as a wild-eyed adult with a bowl full of Lucky Charms and a mug full of hot chocolate spiked with Bailey's.

Written by McKean and the singular Neil Gaiman, MirrorMask is one of the few movies I can view through cynical grown-up eyes that still fills me with total child-like wonder. It's a film full of magic, beauty, and some of the most wonderful creations to ever come out of the Jim Henson Company.

Joanne: All those kids in there want to run away and join the circus.

Helena: Great, they can have my life. I want to run away and join real life.

The Story: Helena (Stephanie Leonidas) is a 15-year-old girl who helps run a circus with her parents. But Helena longs for a normal life, which is the source of many arguments with her mother Joanne (Gina McKee). After one such fight, Joanne falls suddenly ill and is left in a coma, for which Helena feels responsible. On the night before Joanne's dangerous surgery, Helena finds herself swept into an alternate universe known as the City of Light, and the only way she can escape the tyranny of the evil Queen of Shadows is to find the fabled MirrorMask. In a world of giants, sphinxes, and malicious dopplegangers, Helena is the only one who can save the City of Light, and rescue its White Queen from eternal sleep, subsequently finding her own way home.

I admit it willingly; the story behind MirrorMask is insanely complex and bordering on insane, but as with all things Neil Gaiman, who the hell cares? I happen to prefer my fantasy of the lush and complex variety, and you don't get more lush and complex than this movie. I love the way Helena's complicated relationship with her parents, specifically her mother, is the core element in every universe, but there is another layer that is even more fascinating. Helena's relationship with herself, her desire to understand who she is versus who she thinks she wants to be, is the true driving force of her journey through The City of Light and The Dark Lands. I'm always amazed by Gaiman's ability to understand the headspace of a teenage girl, and I think he's at his best with the allegory present in MirrorMask.

I never tire of watching of MirrorMask, because outside of the stunning imagery, it's a movie with true heart. As a kid, Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal were my life. They were fun and visual and instilled a deep love of surreal fantasy that has carried over into my adult life. But MirrorMask is the film that speaks to me both as the child I was and the adult I became, a movie that understands whether you are an adult or a child, you may never truly know your inner most self. But all it takes is a little imagination and some courage to try.

What is your favorite Jim Henson film creation?
Reminisce with me in Twitter: @linnieloowho