Tuesday, 8 May 2007

FROM HELL 5/34

Concluding the sequence of the first murder in Alan Moore's gargantuan script for FROM HELL. Polly Nichols now lies dead on the cobbles. Alan had the idea that for the next couple of pages she should occupy the same spot exactly in each panel while people come and go around her corpse. To this end I started the series of repeated panels on the previous page, and altogether there are 28 of them. In retrospect I think this is a cinematic concept that works much better in the movie itself. And after seeing it there, I have difficulty accepting it as a success here. Tip of the hat to the Hughes Brothers. On film the effect is amplified with the characters buzzing around the corpse like bees in some speeded up sequence of a David Attenborough nature documentary, and all the dialogue is dispensed with.

FROM HELL. CHAPTER 5. PAGE 34. ( 666 WORDS) (!?)
PANEL 1
NOW A SEVEN PANEL PAGE, WITH ONE WIDE HORIZONTAL PANEL ON THE TOP TIER AND THEN THREE PANELS ON EACH OF THE TIERS BENEATH THAT. IN THE FIRST WIDE PANEL ALL WE HAVE IS A STILL LIFE SHOT OF POLLY NICHOLS’ BODY AS IT LIES THERE MOTIONLESS UPON THE COBBLES IN THE DARK, THE BONNET BY ITS RIGHT SIDE. I GUESS WHAT THIS PANEL IS SUPPOSED TO BE SAYING IS “SOME TIME PASSES AND POLLY IS STILL DEAD.” THIS WIDE PANEL PROBABLY AFFORDS YOU YOUR BEST CHANCE TO DO A STUDY OF THE MURDERED WOMAN’S BODY IN REPOSE, SO MAKE WHAT YOU CAN OF IT.
No dialogue

PANEL 2
A SIMILAR SHOT HERE TO THE LAST PANEL ON PAGE THIRTY-THREE. POLLY’S BODY LIES IN THE FORGROUND, AND LOOKING PAST IT WE ARE LOOKING UP THE LENGTH OF BUCK’S ROW TO WHERE IT JOINS BRADY STREET. A SOLITARY FIGURE HAS JUST ENTERED THE STREET AND IS AND IS COMING LIESURELY DOWN IT TOWARDS US. ALTHOUGH WE ARE TOO FAR AWAY TO MAKE HIM OUT AS MORE THAN A DARK SHAPE HERE, THE MAN IS IN FACT CHARLES A. CROSS, A CARMAN EMPLOYED BY PICKFORD AND CO. THE TIME IS NOW 3.45.AM. ON THE MORNING OF THE THIRTY-FIRST OF AUGUST. RELIABLE HISTORY STARTS HERE.
No dialogue.

PANEL 3
SAME SHOT, ONLY NOW CROSS HAS WALKED CLOSER TOWARDS THE FOREGROUND AND HAS DRAWN LEVEL WITH THE BODY. HE STOPS AND LOOKS DOWN AT THE DEAD WOMAN DOUBTFULLY. IT IS TOO DARK TO SEE THAT HER THROAT HAS BEEN CUT, OR THAT THERE ARE TERRIBLE WOUNDS IN HER BELLY.
No dialogue

PANEL 4
SAME SHOT. HERE, ANOTHER DARK FIGURE HAS ENTERED BUCK’S ROW FROM THE TOP ENTRANCE, THERE IN THE BACKGROUND. CROSS, IN THE FOREGROUND, LOOKS ROUND AND NOTICES THIS NEWCOMER AS HE STANDS THERE NEAR THE BODY. RAISING HIS HAND HE CALLS OUT TO THE MAN AS HE ENTERS THE STREET. THE NEW MAN UPON THE SCENE IS ROBERT PAUL, ANOTHER CARMAN, POSSIBLY EMPLOYED BY THE SAME COMPANY. CROSS CALLS OUT TO HIM, EAGER TO ENLIST A SECOND OPINION CONCERNING THE INERT WOMAN LYING AT HIS FEET.
CROSS: OY!
CROSS: OY THERE!

PANEL 5
SAME SHOT. PAUL HAS APPROACHED A LITTLE CLOSER TO US. BUT HE STILL HANGS BACK WARILY, UNCERTAIN AS TO WHETHER CROSS MEANS TO HARM HIM. CROSS HOLDS OUT ONE PALM TO CALM THE OTHER MAN AND INDICATES THE MOTIONLESS WOMAN LYING AT HIS FEET, WHO DOES NOT MOVE THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE EXCHANGE.
PAUL: Wha… what are you after?
CROSS: Oh, I’m not about to ‘urt yer.
CROSS: Come an’ look ‘ere. There’s a woman. She might be drunk, but…

PANEL 6
NOW BOTH MEN ARE KNEELING BY THE BODY. CROSS, KNEELING NEAR THE TOP HALF, IS HOLDING UP ONE OF POLLY’S LIMP, DEAD HANDS. PAUL, LOWER DOWN IS SMOOTHING DOWN POLLY’S LIFTED SKIRTS FOR THE SAKE OF DECORUM. HIS OTHER HAND HE PLACES BENEATH POLLY’S BREAST. THE SCENE IS VERY DARK. THERE IS ALMOST NO LIGHT AT ALL.
CROSS: “Er ‘and’s cold. Why, I believe she’s dead…
PAUL: NO… ‘er face was warm.
PAUL: I think she’s breathin’, but it’s very little if she is. Let’s sit ‘er up…

PANEL 7
SAME SHOT. BOTH MEN HAVE RISEN TO THEIR FEET ONCE MORE AND ARE ABOUT TO DEPART OFF THE RIGHT HAND SIDE OF THE PANEL. CROSS WAVES ONE HAND DISMISSIVELY TO INDICATE THAT HE WANTS NO MORE TO DO WITH THE WOMAN, WHETHER SHE BE DRUNK OR DEAD. HE LOOKS DOWN AT THE BODY WITH DISGUST. PAUL, ON THE OTHER HAND, INDICATES SOME POINT OFF PANEL DOWN THE ROAD WHERE HE HOPES THEY WILL FIND A POLICEMAN. HE LOOKS TOWARDS CROSS FOR APPROVAL. AT THEIR FEET, POLLY LIES MOTIONLESS, COOLING SLOWLY IN THE NIGHT AIR.
CROSS: I’m not goin’ to touch ‘er. Anyway, I’m late enough for work already…
PAUL: Aa. I am too. We’ll try and find a copper down the road, shall we?

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1 Comments:

Blogger HemlockMan said...

It was effective in both instances.

The image of that body in the street with the living coming and going is quite stark.

I've never forgotten it.

8 May 2007 10:00:00 am GMT-5  

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