Monday, 29 January 2007

FROM HELL: 5/7

Another page of Alan Moore's FROM HELL script that partially found its way into the movie. Alan asked for a lot of specific refuse around the edges of the street here, but I omitted it as the remarkable thing I was finding about the poor areas of big cities in those days is that there was no garbage whatsoever to be seen. Just kids with bent legs from rickets and other evidence of deprivation. The girls in the movie version of this scene look much too loudly coloured to my eyes, like music hall girls. I figured if they were going to be sleeping upright (see four days back) in doss houses they would probably look more obviously shabby. That green would never be that green for very long in old sooty London.
I used to fret about stuff like that a great deal. William Gaunt in his book The Pre-Raphaelite Tragedy observed that the Victorians wore their clothes 'an unconscionably long time.' It should be noted that there are many other places where the movie looks convincingly more grim than my version.




CHAPTER 5
PAGE 7.
Panel 1
BACK TO POLLY FOR THIS FIRST PANEL. SHE IS NOW IN THE EARLY MORNING STREETS OF THE EAST END. THERE ARE CABBAGE LEAVES IN THE GUTTER, AND THE GAUDY TISSUE-WRAPPINGS OF EXPENSIVE TANGERINES. ALONG WITH A COUPLE OF OTHER ANONYMOUS WOMEN, POLLY STANDS NEAR A PUBLIC HORSE TROUGH STRIPPED TO HER PETTICOATS. SHE SITS ON THE SIDE OF THE TROUGH, HOLDING A BROKEN PIECE OF MIRROR IN ONE HAND, COMBING HER FAINTLY-GREYING HAIR WITH A BROKEN COMB. SHE GAZES INTO THE MIRROR AS SHE COMBS OUT HER SURPRISINGLY LONG HAIR. SHE HAS HER MOUTH SHUT TO COVER HER MISSING TEETH, AND HER EYES ARE SERIOUS AS SHE STUDIES HER REFLECTION IN THE BROKEN GLASS. SHE REALLY DOES LOOK QUITE PRETTY, IN A FADED WAY, AND A GOOD FIVE YEARS YOUNGER THAN HER ACTUAL AGE. STARING INTO THE MIRROR, SHE SEEMS TO LOSE SIGHT OF HER DISMAL SURROUNDINGS FOR A MOMENT, COMPLETELY ABSORBED. NEXT TO MARY, STANDING FACING AWAY FROM US, ONE OF THE ANONYMOUS WOMEN WITH WHOM POLLY SHARES HER ABLUTIONS IS DOURLY LIFTING HER PETTICOATS AND SPLASHING WATER FROM THE TROUGH UP BETWEEN HER LEGS. IT IS STILL VERY EARLY IN THE MRONING, AND THE STREET THAT WE SEE STRETCHING AWAY BEHIND THE BATHING WOMEN IS PRACTICALLY DESERTED SAVE FOR THE OMNIPRESENT RUBBISH. THERE IS A LITTLE LIGHT BETWEEN THE SQUAT BUILDINGS, AND THE VISUAL TONE OF THE PANEL IS STILL DARK, AS IT IS THROUGHOUT POLLY’S RUN OF PANELS. POLLY’S BREASTS ARE BARE, AND HER FROCK AND OTHER CLOTHING ARE DRAPED OVER THE SLIDE OF THE HORSE TROUGH, OR ARE LAYING SOMEWHERE NEARBY, INCLUDING THE BLACK RIBBED STOCKING. POLLY IS ALSO BAREFOOT HERE. I SEE THE PANEL AS HAVING ALMOST A CLASSICAL COMPOSITION: LIKE SHOTS OF DIANA AND HER NYMPHS BATHING BESIDE A POOL, BUT GRIMLY TARNSPOSED TO A SQUALID NINTEENTH CENURY URBAN SETTING SO THAT THE GODDESS AND HER NYMPHS BECOME AGEING VAGRANT PROSTITUTES, AND THEIR POOL A WATER TROUGH. BEHIND THEM, BLIGHTED TERRACES REPLACE THE SYLVAN GLADES. NEVERTHELESS, A SORT OF INNOCENT, CLASSICAL QUALITY IS RETAINED, IF ONLY IN THE ABSORBED EXPRESSION OF THE SEMI-GLAD WOMEN.
No Dialogue.

PANEL 2.
NOW WE CUT BACK TO GULL. HE IS OUT OF THE BATH, AND HAS RETURNED TO THE ADJOINING CHAMBER TO DRESS. PERHAPS WE COULD SET UP THIS PANEL SO THAT WE ARE IN THE BATHROOM LOOKING OUT AT GULL, ENABLING US TO SHOW THE NOW-EMPTIED BATH, THE USED TOWELS CRUMPLED AS THEY HANG OVER ITS SIDE. LOOKING OUT BEYOND THIS WE SEE GULL AS HE DRESSES, PERHAPS CAUGHT HERE IN THE ACT OF FASTENING HIS TIE, OR ADJUSTING HIS HIGH, STARCHED COLLAR OR SOMETHING. HIS BLACK COAT IS DRAPED NEATLEY UPON A CONVENIENT HANGER SOMEWHERE NEARBY, PRESSED AND CLEANED AND READY TO PUT ON. GULL STUDIES HIMSELF IN HIS WARDROBE MIRROR (OR WHATEVER) WITH SATISFACTION. HIS SHIRT IS A HOLY, PRISTINE WHITE. IT CATCHES THE SUN BEAUTIFULLY, ALMOST BLINDING TO LOOK AT.
No Dialogue

PANEL 3.
CUT BACK TO POLLY. THE PANEL IS ARRANGED SO THAT THE CORNER OF THE HORSE TROUGH THAT WE SAW LAST PANEL IS NOW IN THE FOREGROUND ON THE LEFT, QUITE LARGE. WE LOOK ACROSS IT TOWARDS POLLY AS SHE STANDS DRESSING SOME FEW FEET AWAY. HER HAIR IS NOW DONE UP INTO A FAIRLY NEAT AND PRESENTABLE BUN, AND SHE HAS REPLACED HER FROCK AND HER STOCKINGS, ONE OF WHICH SHE IS PERHAPS ADJUSTING HERE. SHE LOOKS A LOT MORE PRESENTABLE THAT SHE DID UPON WAKING, AND HER EXPRESSION IS QUIET AND SEROIUS AND RESIGNED AS SHE ADJUSTS HER DRESS. BEHIND HER, WE SEE THE TERRACED DOORSTEPS OF FLOWER AND DEAN STREET, GREY IN THE OVERCAST MORNING LIGHT. PERHAPS ONLY THE VERY TOPS OF THE HOUSES, IF WE CAN SEE THEM, ARE LIT BY THE RISING SUN, WITH NO LIGHT FILTERING DOWN INTO THE NARROW STREETS BELOW AS YET.
No Dialogue

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10 Comments:

Blogger HemlockMan said...

What were the levels of epidemics in London in those days?

29 January 2007 6:50:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Roly said...

The worst of the cholera was over, and Bazalgette's sewers were complete I think. He was elected President of the Institution of civil engineers in 1888. apparently.

Eddie, I've got an article (from the latest issue of the tate gallery magazine) linking hogarth & other ur-cartoonists through Blake, Dore, McCay to Crumb, Ware, etc etc although you don't feature. all quite academic and not very readable. Anyhow if it sounds like something you might want to have a read of and get cross about, let me know...

And, fascinating blog, thankee.

29 January 2007 9:50:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger spacedlaw said...

I quite like this whole part where the alternance between techniques stresses even more the differences between Polly's and Gull's world.
In a way, Gull's life appears a little like a dream - comfy, whereas Polly's appears sharp and pointy.
Nathalie

29 January 2007 3:01:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger drjon said...

Of course there was bugger-all garbage.

They couldn't afford it.

29 January 2007 6:01:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

or they et it.

29 January 2007 6:04:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

in fact , reading Alan's description of the garbage, my mouth was watering...

cabbage leaves and tissue wrappings of expensive tangerines...

29 January 2007 6:06:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Andrew J said...

So after Fate of the Artist and halfway through How to Be an Artist (hereafter refered to as the "Artist" duology. By me.) I must compliment you on your use of folks sitting around with a wine glass as a visual shorthand for hoity-toityness and mock-sophistication.

Just sayin'.

29 January 2007 8:07:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

My daughter Erin used to have her lemonade in a small port glass in order to partake of said sophistication. She always referred to it as a
"'yes, I suppose' glass"

29 January 2007 8:21:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Christopher Moonlight said...

I'd love to see some insight on 'snooter' like you do for From Hell. I mean, I know there's not a snooter movie, but pretend there is. Of course, we don't need there to be one to talk about this sort of thing, but it might be fun. Jude Law would be a hoot to play you, or maybe Hugh Grant. Tommy Lee Jones could play Alan Moore. Jonny Depp could play the snooter.

29 January 2007 11:48:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Andrew Phillip Smith said...

as I understand, the poor parts of cities didn't have much rubbish in them because everything was reused by beggars. This was also true of cities in the ancient world.

30 January 2007 2:47:00 pm GMT-5  

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