7 Feb 2008

An Old Favourite returns

Just got this book as a gift. With graphic novels appearing left right and centre, Frans Masereel's book or novel in pictures as he liked to call them - is almost like a silent film in the age of sound, colour and special effects. Simple, striking woodcuts that tell the story.

Woodcut is the oldest form of print medium and often considered a craft since the images are not as refined. However since there were no add ons to the final woodcut image, the panels remained like storyboards of a film.

I had a smaller version of the book that fit into my hand and would often carry it in college. I would re read it at coffee tables till it became battered and torn.

What was fascinating for me was that each time I would end up foccussing on a different aspect of the images and a new narrative would emerge. This is the case with a great piece of work. The other examples that I can think of is Fiesta that forgotten novel by Hemingway. Or My Name is Red. Or Mash. Or Before Sunrise.

In Passionate Journey the story is told in monochromatic tones with each image concertrating on the main character surrounded by just the essential objects. Your eyes just re-live the story through the characters. And you never once feel the heavy personality of the creator. Much like what Billy Wilder said - The best director is the one you don't see.

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