who know who Neil Gaiman is should know that, at his request, we
spent most of our time talking about Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke,
though we did cover some of his other projects.
who don't know who Neil Gaiman is should take a look at Cranky's
review, where I gush a bit.
full shelf of one of my bookcases is filled with Gaiman's work,
all ten volumes of The Sandman, Stardust, Neverwhere (including
a bootleg tape of the BBC series), all the other work for DC Comics
and the occasional pamphlet or two. And Neil's CD. Simply, Neil
Gaiman is the best fantasy writer on the planet. "I write fairy
tales" he told the Comics Buyer's Guide, but he also writes
children's books, SF television episodes, and, thanks to a word
from Quentin Tarantino, has penned the adaptation of Princess
Mononoke, the first animated work that can properly be described
does Quentin Tarantino fit into all of this?
Neil Gaiman: Quentin's mum is a fan of mine and has
been reading my stuff for a decade and insisting that everybody
else read it, too. Bless her. In fact she used to send Quentin Sandman T-shirts.
The first thing I ever heard about it was when people would say "Hey!
I saw Quentin at a book signing and he was wearing a Mr. Punch T-shirt,
or whatever. I thought, oh that's cool. So, he knew my stuff through
his mum. Harvey Weinstein called
him; Harvey's theory was he had Mononoke. He wanted the
best screenwriter he could get to write it, to do the English
He didn't want anything that sounded like Saturday morning cartoons
like Speed Racer. He called Quentin and Quentin said "You
don't want me. You want Gaiman. Go and get Gaiman" An hour
later my phone rings and next thing I've got Harvey telling
wants me to write it. I said "OK. Send me a video" and
Harvey said "No. I want you to see it in a cinema. You see
this on video you do not 'get' the picture. You
do not 'get' what this thing is." I went to a screening in
Los Angeles, not really knowing what to expect, and the film started.
CrankyCritic: I've seen the same subtitled version
on video. We can compare notes.
Neil Gaiman: Mr. Miyazaki has said watching Mononoke
on video is like watching noise. And I think it's true. It's something
that you have to see in a cinema. You have to see the hugeness,
the beautiful-ness. I find it interesting because I must have seen
it, now, on video perhaps a thousand times and in the cinema about
five times, in various different dubs and forms. At the New York
Film Festival in Lincoln Center I sat through it, watching it with
joy. Seeing little details that I hadn't seen before. Little bits
CrankyCritic: How was the audience reaction?
Neil Gaiman: Lovely. Perfect. Couldn't have asked for
a better one They laughed at the jokes. They oo'd and ah'd but not
inappropriately at the handful of tiny moments of ultra-violence.
They obviously had an effect on them but it wasn't "yeah!" [think
of a slice 'n' dice crowd cheering the nasty stuff, that's the
kind of sound Neil made -- cs] and we got a standing ovation
at the end.
well known for your championship of what are called Creator's
that an author's work shouldn't be screwed with by outside hands.
It must have been an interesting project to take on and adapt
Neil Gaiman: Oh sure. At the end of the day what sold
me on doing it was just realizing that here was this amazing, wonderful,
beautiful thing that I really cared about. I watched it
and I wanted it done well. I thought "If I say no, to the
next person they hire, it may be a job." If anybody's
going to f*** it up, I want it to be me. If Miyazaki is going to
at someone, I want it to be me, because I will be doing it with
love and respect as best I can.
We compare notes >>>
1999 Chuck Schwartz except All images and music © 1997 Studio