Friday, 23 March 2007

FROM HELL- 5/28

Back on that dark London street, Polly Nicholls is still about to be murdered in Alan Moore's script for FROM HELL. I always thought this page was set up like a scene in a play, with Gull and Polly on one side of the stage, and John Merrick on the other. The hand gestures are clearly in view and you can almost hear the words echoing around the auditorium.

FROM HELL. CHAPTER 5. PAGE 28 (1,198 words)
PANEL 1.
A NINE PANEL PAGE NOW. IN THIS FIRST PANEL WE ARE INSIDE THE CARRIAGE. IN THE FOREGROUND WE CAN SEE GULL’S HANDS AS HE SITS THERE WITH THE GRAPES UPON HIS LAP. LOOKING PAST THIS, WE CAN SEE POLLY ROUGHLY HALF FIGURE. SHE’S NOT LOOKING TOWARDS US, BUT IS SITTING IN PROFILE. ONCE MORE, SHE CLOSES HER EYES AS SHE SPEAKS AND RAISES HER HAND TO HER BROW AS IF DIZZY OR FAINT. BEYOND HER, THROUGH THE CARRIAGE WINDOW, WE CAN ONLY SEE DARKNESS.
POLLY: W-where are we, Sir? I’ve been all over tonight…
POLLY: I remember… I came out of “The Frying Pan”, into…
GULL (OFF): Hush, child. We’re by the London Hospital.

PAGE 2.
NOW WE ARE JUST OUTSIDE THE CARRIAGE WINDOW ON POLLY’S SIDE, WHICH IS THE SIDE FACING THE HOSPITAL. FROM THE SOFTLY LIT INTERIOR OF THE CARRIAGE, POLLY IS TURNED TO GAZE OUT OF THE WINDOW AT US, PEERING INTO THE NIGHT. GULL IS VISIBLE SITTING JUST BEYOND HER, ALSO TURNED TO LOOK IN THE DRECTION IN WHICH HE IS DIRECTING HER TO TRAIN HER EYES. HE RESTS ONE HAND ON HER SHOULDER IN A FATHERLY WAY, WHILE WITH THE OTHER HE POINTS PAST HER, OUT THROUGH THE CARRIAGE WINDOW TOWARDS US AND OUT INTO THE DARKNESS. HE SMILES, A CALM, DARK SMILE OF TOTAL SELF ASSURANCE. POLLY PEERS UNCERTAINLY OUT INTO THE DARK AT US, NOT QUITE SURE WHAT SHE’S SUPPOSED TO BE LOOKING AT.
GULL: I wish to show you someone. Someone who requires an offering at the commencement of each journey or important venture.
GULL: Look there… between the railings.

PAGE 3.
NOW WE CLOSE IN FROM OUR LAST PANEL, CLOSING IN THROUGH THE WINDOW UPON POLLY’S FACE SO THAT IT ALMOST FILLS THE ENTIRETY OF THE PANEL, OVER TO THE LEFT. SHE SQUINTS OUT INTO THE DARKNESS, TRYING TO SEE WHAT GULL IS ATTEMPTING TO POINT OUT TO HER. IMMEDIATELY BEHIND HER, ON THE RIGHT OF THE PANEL, THE REST OF THE IMAGE SPACE IS TAKEN UP BY GULL AS HE LOOMS OVER HER SHOULDER. HE HAS PLACED BOTH HIS HANDS UPON HER SHOULDERS NOW, WITH ONE ON EACH, AS IF HE IS STEERING HER TO LOOK IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. IT ISN’T A THREATENING GESTURE, AND IS CONDUCTED VERY GENTLY, WITH A FATHERLY TOUCH.
GULL: Do you see him, Polly?
GULL: Do you see?

PANEL 4.
NOW WE HAVE THE FIRST OF THE THREE SILENT PANELS THAT TAKE UP THIS CENTRAL TIER. IN THIS FIRST ONE WE ARE LOOKING THROUGH POLLY’S EYES WITH POLLY HERSLF NOT VISBLE. SHE IS LOOKING OUT THROUGH THE WINDOW OF THE COACH, ALTHOUGH IT’S UP TO YOU WHETHER THE FRAME OF THE WINDOW IS VISBLE OR NOT. WE ARE LOOKING WITH POLLY ACROSS THE COBBLES OF THE WHITECHAPEL ROAD TOWARDS THE RAILED –OFF GROUNDS OF THE LONDON HOSPITAL BEYOND. THERE DOES SEEM TO BE A VAGUE DARK FIGURE MOVING THROUGH THE SHADOWS BEYOND THE RAILINGS, BUT AT THIS DISTANCE IT IS DIFFICULT TO MAKE OUT.
No dialogue.

PANEL 5.
NOW WE START TO CLOSE IN UPON THIS IMAGE, SO THAT WE APPEAR TO HAVE CROSSED THE ROAD AND ARE PASSING THROUGH THE RAILINGS HERE. WE CAN NOW SEE THE FIGURE MORE CLEARLY, BEING CLOSER TO IT, AS IT WANDERS SLOWLY AND FORLORNLY THROUGH THE GROUNDS OF THE HOSPITAL. AS WE SEE IT HERE IT IS SHAMBLING SLOWLY TOWARDS ONE OF THE SICKLY ROSE BUSHES PLANTED AROUND THE FRINGE OF THE GROUNDS. IT WEARS A CLOAK, AND A GIGANTIC SAILOR’S PEAKED CAP. OVER ITS GIGANTIC HEAD IT WEARS A WHITE BAG WITH A SINGLE EYEHOLE ROUGHLY CUT INTO IT. IT IS STILL PROABABLY TOO SHADOWY AND INDISTINCT HERE TO MAKE OUT ALL THESE DETAILS, BUT I’M JUST TELLING YOU FOR FUTURE REFERENCE. THE FIGURE IS, OF COURSE, JOHN MERRICK, OUT FOR A NOCTURNAL STROLL AROUND THE HOSPITAL GROUNDS.
No dialogue

PANEL 6.
WE CLOSE IN EVEN FURTHER FOR A HALF FIGURE SHOT OF MERRICK AS HE PAUSES TO GAZE AT THE SICKLY ROSE BUSH. IN WHATEVER WEAK LIGHT SHINES FROM THE HOSPITAL WE SEE HIM, A SHADOWY YET UNMISTAKEABLE FIGURE. HE STOPS BY THE ROSE BUSH, REACHING SLOWLY OUT TOWARDS ONE OF THE BLOSSOMS.
No dialogue.

PANEL 7.
NOW WE ARE WITHIN THE CARRIAGE ONCE MORE, SITTING BESIDE GULL SO THAT HE IS CLOSEST TO US HERE. HE IS TURNED AWAY FROM US WITH POLLY SITTING JUST BEYOND HIM, ALSO TURNED AWAY AS SHE GAZES OUT THROUGH THE WINDOW INTO THE NIGHT. GULL STILL HAS HIS HANDS RESTING GENTLY UPON POLLY’S SHOULDERS FROM BEHIND, BUT SHE APPEARS NEITHER TO MIND NOR NOTICE AS SHE GAZES OUT THROUGH THE WINDOW. IF WE CAN SEE ANY OF HER EXPRESSION SHE LOOKS VAGUELY SURPRISED AND PLEASED TO HAVE LOCATED THE FIGURE THAT SIR WILLIAM WAS POINTING OUT TO HER.
POLLY: Why… why… yes! I sees ‘im, standin’ by the rose bush there. That mask. He…he looks so quaint…
GULL: Yes, yes. Now, child, there’s something you must SAY for me.

PANEL 8.
REVERSE ANGLES NOW SO THAT WE ARE LOOKING AT POLLY FROM THE FRONT AS SHE GAZES TOWARDS US OUT THROUGH THE WINDOW OF THE COACH, ALTHOUGH THE WINDOW NEEDN’T BE VISIBLE HERE, BEING OFF PANEL IN THE FORGROUND. SHE GIVES AN OPIATED HALF SMILE AND LOOKS VAGUELY PUZZLED, NOT LOOKING ROUND TOWARDS GULL AS SHE DOES SO BUT CONTINUING TO GAZE DREAMILY OUT INTO THE NIGHT TOWARDS US. BEHIND HER, WE SEE GULL. HIS HANDS STILL REST UPON HER SHOULDERS, AND HE HAS COMMENCED TO GENTLY STROKE EITHER SIDE OF HER FACE WITH HIS THUMBS. SHE DOESN’T SEEM TO NOTICE. GULL’S EYES ARE IN SHADOW AND HIS SMILE IS DARK AS HE WHISPERS INTO HER EAR FROM JUST OVER HER SHOULDER,
POLLY: Say, sir?
GULL: Yes. You must say “salutation to Ganesa”. Can you do that?

PANEL 9.
IN THIS LAST PANEL WE CLOSE IN UPON THE IMAGE IN OUR LAST SHOT, SO THAT WE ARE SO CLOSE TO POLLY SO THAT WE CANNOT EVEN SEE ALL OF HER FACE. ALL THAT WE CAN SEE IS THE LOWER HALF OF HER FACE. AND HER EYES ARE NO LONGER VISIBLE. WE CAN ALSO SEE HER NECK AND HER SHOULDERS CLEARLY. GULL’S HANDS ARE VISIBLE, REACHING INTO THE PICTURE FROM BEHIND TO EITHER SIDE OF HER THROAT. THE WAY HIS FINGERS ARE ARRANGED WILL SEEM A LITTLE UNNATURAL, BUT I THINK IT CAN BE DONE: HIS THUMBS REST ON HER CHEEKBONES, OR THEREABOUTS, HOLDING HER FACE IMMOBILE BETWEEN THEM. HIS INDEX FINGER AND HIS SECOND FINGER ARE SPLAYED OUT SO THAT THEY ARE LOWER DOWN, AND ARE JUST RESTING LIGHTLY AGAINST THE SIDES OF POLLY’S THROAT, WHERE HER CAROTID ARTERY IS LOCATED. THE OTHER TWO FINGERS ON EACH HABND CAN BE WHEREVER THEY LOOK BEST. THE HANDS ARE RELAXED HERE. AND STILL ONLY TOUCHING POLLY VERY GENTLY. THEY ARE LIKE THE CARESS OF AN AFFECTIONATE PARENT, OR PERHAPS A LOVER, AND THEY AROUSE NO SUSPICION. POLLY’S EYES ARE DREAMY AND UNFOCUSSED AS SHE GAZES OUT OF THE WINDOW AT US, HER MIND CLOUDED BY DRINK AND LAUDANUM.
POLLY: Ha. I… I think I can, sir.
POLLY: “Sa… sal’tation… to Ga-nee-sha.”

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5 Comments:

Anonymous tita said...

Hi, just wanna say that I'm still keeping attention. Now that I've read From Hell I enjoy these script posts even more.

Reporting in from Ganesha Street, Bandung

23 March 2007 12:33:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Christopher Moonlight said...

Yes. Yes, I think I see what you mean. I feel it, I should say. It brings me into the story. I must ask, though... How dose setting a page up like a scene from a play, not like setting it up like a scene from a movie?

23 March 2007 1:56:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous Cadial said...

Must be depressing to work on such a dark thing for so long (even if its exciting at the same time). How long did you work on the project, and how did From Hell affect you?

23 March 2007 3:22:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

Good to hear from you again. Tita. Give my regards to ganesha street (should be a song).

Chris, I said I thought of it that way. I'm sure Alan didn't, which renders your question moot.

Cadial,
ten years in all. my next day's post about From Hell gives a hint of the artistic fatigue i felt at one stage. apart from that, and only at the time, no long term effects. it was just ink on paper.

eddie

24 March 2007 12:33:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Christopher Moonlight said...

It's because you thought of it that way, that I ask. So, do you mean to say that you would have drawn the page another way, to make it feel more like a play, or is it how Alan had you draw it, that put you in mind of a play? I like the idea, though.

24 March 2007 11:29:00 am GMT-5  

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