Saturday, 17 July 2010

Solomon Kane

Before seeing the movie Solomon Kane, I picked up a cheap copy of the original short stories by Robert E. Howard. I did not know much about Howard or his work until this point, and was surprised to learn he was friends with Lovecraft, was amazingly prolific and killed himself when he was only 31. The short stories are quite wonderful, and I can see that they were a great influence on Tolkien, Moorcock and Mike Mignola in particular.

The film is a passable post-Lord of the Rings romp which will entertain but won't suffer immediate re-watching. However, its production design is quite remarkable in places.

Set against the backdrop of Black Death England, James "Rome" Purefoy marches about the frosty, dank countryside on some extremely well-chosen locations. The collection of thumbnails below contains some of my favourite shots. The Puritan, as he's known, spends a lot of the film's second act silhouetted against winter trees which shelter peasants in the act of burying their dead. He comes across ruined churches whose crypts are filled with ghouls and the charred remains of villages where witch burnings went awry. All this is very evocative and it is a shame the story does not devote more time to the Arthurian concept that the land is barren because the King is sleeping.

The only exception to the otherwise flawless design is a rather silly scene where Kane is crucified. I felt it had the potential to be graphically stunning, but this was not realised. Added to this is the unintentional hilarity derived from the fact Kane just gets down once he's had enough. I think the moral of this scene is: use bigger nails and bang them through the bones of the wrists AND ankles.

The costumes are average LotR / Texas Chainsaw Massacre affairs with a couple of exceptions. Woefully little is made of the amazing Plague Doctors which are glimpsed in one scene, but the film's baddie and quite novel. He's a necromancer straight out of Warhammer, with litanies tattooed on his face and his robes cluttered with charms. Some high-rez shots are floating about the web showing the awesome centipede/vertebrae designs on his bracers and jewellery.

I particularly like the font used for the film's main title, which has enough flare to keep it interesting while not being overly ornate.

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1 comment:

  1. Whilst browsing Amazon for Mike Mignola books, I came across a fine graphic novel adaptation of one of the Kane stories entitled Solomon Kane: The Castle of the Devil. All in all a fantastic read, and I'm glad to see Howard's Puritan made it to the silver screen as well.