A production blog for the upcoming works of the Blazing Heart Saga and Dark Pawn. Also I post fantasy art and book related stuff I like.
Okay, so the other night I finally got around to watching Imaginaerum, the movie that Nightwish put out to go alongside the album of the same name. I was a little hesitant going in because, much as I love the band and the music, many of the reviews said that it was good for fans, but on the whole rather weak.
By God, they were wrong. And maybe it’s my bias as a fan talking, but honestly, I thought it was a marvelous piece of film and it did so many things right. It was an artistic film without getting bogged down in being artistic. The songs that were put into the movie in their entirety (by which I mean those that had instrumental and lyric parts just like on the album itself) could have been stand-alone music videos in their own right, but that didn’t detract from them being in the movie and honestly added to it.
From the moment the music swelled into Storytime as Tom and the Snowman took off, I was completely blown away. The cinematography was great throughout, and the director really knew what he was doing. They turned Arabesque, which in my opinion was the weakest song on the album, into one of the most powerful and emotionally evocative scenes in the movie. The march of the toy soldiers to Rest Calm was nothing short of breathtaking, and while the climax was admittedly a little predictable, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t marvelously shot and well composed. Last Ride of the Day is a fantastic song, and the scene it was in totally did it justice.
The story balanced Tom in his dreamworld and Gem with Anne very well, and I never felt either side of the story was dragging on too long, or wanted more from either. As someone who has personally dealt with a family member slipping away and losing who they are (in my case it was Alzheimer’s, though in the movie, it’s dementia), I have to say that Gem’s storyline was not just powerful, it was really well-written and believable. It’s a damn shame that this movie isn’t being appreciated outside of Nightwish and metal fans, because there’s so much good stuff here. This is how you do a concept album, this is how you tell an incredible story through music.
Dark Pawn is an attempt to subvert several common tropes in the fantasy genre. It’s not to say tropes are bad, but I’ve read too many stories that all follow the same basic narrative pattern and I wanted to take the genre in a new direction.
Dark Pawn starts where most other fantasy stories end, at the culmination of a decades-long war between the forces of Light and Darkness. In the opening pages, the prince returns from his epic quest with a magic sword and defeats the Dark Lord. However, this world operates on the principle of Balance, and instead of restoring that balance, Prince Allister only tipped the scales in the opposite direction; shattering the hold of Darkness over the world.
This ushers in a long, hot summer as creatures who serve the Darkness begin to suffer and die. Dark elves and other practitioners of dark magic are unable to use it. Werewolves are locked in the forms they were in at the time of the Dark Lord’s fall. Goblins, trolls and many other creatures are growing weaker and more sickly. The long summer, while it seems like a good thing, has the potential to reach the point where the land bakes, crops will fail, rivers and lakes will dry up and because of these things, many creatures will die.
Darkness’s Triad, a group of three powerful beings that are not quite gods, but not mortals either, tempt a young woman to take up the mantle of Darkness and become its sovereign. However, Claudia was raised in a kingdom sworn to the Light, and in fiercely patriarchal society. She has to come to terms with not only becoming one of the most powerful political figures in the world, but also being the leader of species that, until recently, she thought were ruthless, savage and utterly alien.
I mean, there’s more to it than that, but this is all I’ve got time to write up now, and if it seems like a lot to take in, it’s done more gradually in the text itself. Basically, it’s not light fantasy, but it’s not as gritty as ASOIAF either. It’s like ASOIAF in that there’s no “good” side, nor is there an evil one. Light does not mean good, and Dark does not mean evil. But it’s not also an inversion, where Dark is good and Light is evil. Both Light and Darkness have to do bad things, but they also have “noble” intentions, at least to their way of thinking.