Thursday, January 02, 2014

The Horror Of...New Year's Night, Hogfather Part 2

Well, what do you know? The sun did rise today. Should have bet on it.

At least the new day and year means we can continue looking at Terry Pratchett's Hogfather. As far as the Discworld goes, it isn't clear yet if it will see another sun rise. Not without a Hogfather.

And the question of him will be a great concern to our next player on the stage. Death.

Death enters the picture...with the first death of the story, of course. The fellow knows when to make an entrance. But he shows only when it's his time.

Death is being played by two actors. First, the voice is being done by Ian Richardson. He sadly passed between Discworld movies, so this is his only turn as Death. (No, I'm not trying to make a bad joke.) He's been in many good parts, but people should be sure to remember his for his part in the original version of House of Cards. He's also been in Bleak House, Marple, Murder Rooms, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Brazil, and the 70's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Richardson's voice is amazing in this role. He had a natural wonderful voice, but he brought out such a lovely somber, but humorous quality in Death.

The body of Death is being played by Marnix van den Broeke. He's played the Silent on Doctor Who, as well as Death in next adaptation, and yet another character in the third adaptation. He also played the werewolf part in Prisoner of Azkaban. His movements tied with the voice work did a lot to sell Death as real and relateable. Together, these actors went a long way to make you fall in love with Death. (Now, that was a deliberate bad joke of sorts.)

After the Tooth Fairy cart driver is left to breath his final breath, the Auditors arrive.

Great. So he's stabbed to death, and then he gets panned by the ethereal critics.
For some of the Auditors it makes no sense to attack the Hogfather by going after a separate mythological being. But on the whole they understand. You have to start somewhere. And through the Tooth Fairy, you can get the Hogfather where he is most vulnerable.

These are the days of our...Oop! All gone.
Death finally arrives, and the Auditors vanish.

He checks an hourglass he is carrying, and watches as the final grains of sand run out of the top. The cart driver is no more.

Death offers a hand to help the spirit of the man to stand. The driver is bothered. He doesn't understand why he was killed. He did what he was asked to do.

But Death is distracted, troubled as to why this man is dead. A cart driver for the Tooth Fairy murdered? So, he takes the man on, and has a little chat about what happen to him.

The Auditors return for a moment. They are annoyed that Death seems to have a clue about what is transpiring. They hate when he gets involved.

But they are unworried. Teatime's plan is one that actually makes it impossible for Death to take any action. The land of the Tooth Fairy won't allow death, or Death, within it. The only being who could possibly act is powerless.

But Death is offered more and more clues. As Teatime's group attacks and kills the guards within the Tooth Fairy's castle, Death can see their hourglasses drain, one after another. He is getting an inkling about how big the events occurring are proving.

His assistant, Albert, pops up and wonders what is going on, on this night of all nights.

Albert is played by David Jason, a well known and traveled British actor. I know I've watched him in many shows over the years. Only Fools and Horses. Open All Hours. A Touch of Frost. Danger Mouse. Count Duckula. He's also in another of the adaptations of Terry Pratchett's work, The Color of Magic.

Interestingly, Albert is a former wizard. He just...changed professions...after screwing up a spell.

I also wanted to note that Death's Domain is a dark and grey dreamland. The heights stretch on, and the dimensions don't all work. It feels like one of my recurring dreams.

It is lovely in it's own way.

But now Death is faced with a quandary. What does all this death add up to?

That's when the doors to the Mythological Section opens. He's drawn there, to a looming death. But these being are not ones who are supposed to be able to die. They are mostly gods and demigods. But Death moves down the rows to see what hourglass is amiss. Everyone seems okay...But the Hogather...His sands are quickly filling the bottom end of his hourglass. The time of the Hogfather is racing to an end.

Albert laughs. What will Death do to deal with this situation?

Death knows what to do. He grabs up his trusty sword, an infinitely sharp blade. He goes to his trusty white steed, Binky (A normal horse, beyond it's ability to travel through time and space at will.). And drags Albert along. (And that is tricky. Albert is down to his last seconds of life. If he enters the real world again, he will die. But he's with Death, so he is just outside the real world.)

Travelling through time and space on a magic horse is
exactly like dodgy green screen.
And the two are off. Binky races to where they need to reach, out at the hub of the world. The Castle of Bones...It's part of the Hogfather tradition that almost everyone has forgotten.

Castle Greyskull? You've just been surpassed..
 Arriving at the residence of the Hogfather, Death begins looking around. Quickly he can see that all is not right. The Wooden sled, the hogs, the presents, and the red robes all sit unused.

And then one of the Hogfather's pixies runs down some stairs piss drunk. He's partying. He hasn't has a Hogswatchnight off...ever.

And then he sees that Death is before him. And he runs.

"Does it come" "No! Get in the damn sled!"
None of this will do. The belief in the Hogfather, the force that sustains him, is dwindling. And this turn of events has blotted the fat man out of existence.

If this trend continues, the Hogfather can never return. And then his function in the world will be unmet. And could be the beginning of the end.

Death must act. But how? He can't fight Teatime. He can't reach him. But he can move about the world at will. And the powers he wields could have alternative uses.

"What do you mean this is my only scene!"
So Death grabs up the Hogfather's robes. Someone must be the Hogfather this night.

At one house that evening, a mouse has a bad end. Damn mouse traps. But this draws in Death of Rats, who reaps it's soul. Before leaving, Death of Rats takes a look around, and then he hears a noise in the chimney. He hides himself, and then curiously watches for the Hogfather's annual appearance.

"Albert? Are you sure this isn't the krampus list?"
A figure appears from the Chimney. It rubs soot on the hearth rug. It grabs up the food left. It reads the letter a child left him. And then it leaves presents. But then it checks a list it's carrying.

Death is trying to get everything right. It's all so unusual to him. He usually deals with dead people. He usually is the being no one wants to come. Now he has to bring gifts, spread hope, and say, "Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho!"

Add to that he has to wear an annoying fake beard, and put a pillow in his robes.

It's all very unusual to Death. But Death is not just a run of the mill anthropomorphic force of nature. He's been around since the beginning. He's grown and changed. He's learned to care in his own way. He's learned to take an interest in the well being of humans. Heck, he's adopted (humans and cats).

In fact he's been very busy in the Discworld stories. (Death would be.) He appears in almost every book. (Death would.) And he's richly developed. Check out Reaper Man or Mort to get to know him.

Sadly, this is the only scene we get with Death of Rats. In the book he has a far larger role, along with Quoth the Raven. But they were excised for the most part. I'd suggest reading the book to enjoy what they add. The book and movie have their differences. But, like with the other adapations, I personally enjoy the watching and the reading. For me, they can both go together. Granted, if you watch first, you'll get certain faces and voices locked in your head (Like with Harry Potter.).

Albert is along to help Death try and act more human, and follow the rules of the Hogfather. He knows that Death will be confused by the bizarre human rules and customs of the season. As well, he's a pixie helper (right down to some fake ears).

He also knows that there will be countless pork pies and sherry to consume (Death isn't big on eating.).

One thing that Albert does note is that Death is not Ho Ho'ing right. He has to sound happier and livelier. Death has some work to do.

But their night is about to get more complicated as they reach one certain house in Ankh-Morpork.

Down this chimney, Death will find many questions awaiting him.

...Time for a family reunion!

But that will have to wait until tomorrow night.

The Hogfather is gone. Teatime is at work to control all the children in the world. And Death is busy trying to make the Hogfather real for those losing faith. It is cattywampus.

Who can face down Teatime, and live to tell the tale? Let's find out...tomorrow.

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