jarrow (jarrow) wrote in strangefandom,

Round 2 Strangers: MirrorMask

Alright, folks, this is it! The last fandom in Round 2! I'll post the wrap-up after the holiday. Enjoy!


Vids Used

"What You Waiting For" by corn_child013 (current email unknown)
http://splitends.zftp.com/mmwywfl.avi (direct download)
recommended by

"Illusion & Dream" by Di (email available through her website)
http://www.angelfire.com/poetry/illusion_dream/illusion_dream.wmv (direct download)
recommended by

Grokker Synopsis

I may have gone slightly overboard. (Where "may" = "definitely" and "slightly overboard" = "wow, is that a kraken I see down here?"). So! I present 4 synopses for your delectation. All are spoilery, the shortest one least so.


Version 1: Short summary, moderatey spoilery version:

Helena wishes to run away from the circus and join real life - a wish that she regrets after her mother collapses and is hospitalised, forcing her family and their circus off the road. One night she gets drawn into a strange world, where she meets Valentine and discovers that the balance between Light and Dark has been unbalanced, which is destroying the world itself. She sets off with Valentine in a quest to find the charm that will wake the White Queen from her coma - the MirrorMask. Along the way she discovers that the Dark Queen's daughter (who looks exactly like Helena; and is called the Anti-Helena) has run away and taken over Helena's life. Helena must find the MirrorMask in order to save the world she's in and get her own life back. She can follow the progress of the Anti-Helena by looking through windows into her own room, where the drawings that contain the world she's in are hanging on the walls. Things look bad when Valentine betrays Helena to the Dark Queen for a reward and Helena is mind controlled into taking Anti-Helena's place, but Valentine returns and rescues Helena. Together they find where Anti-Helena has hidden the MirrorMask. Anti-Helena tries to destroy the drawings but misses the ones Helena has drawn on the roof and so Helena is able to use the MirrorMask to send herself and Anti-Helena home.

Version 2: Wikipedia article - medium length - Wikipedia article</b>

Version 3: FAQ - where I pick the parts that will probably be most confusing to you, and explain what's going on. Hosted off lj for space. - FAQ</b>

Version 4: Long summary aka The Kraken. Hosted off lj so the rest of this entry can fit in one post. - Long summary aka The Kraken</b>

Stranger Synopses

Stranger 1

All I knew about this fandom was:

Nothing but the name.

Here's what this fandom is really about:

Dude, this is the lostest I have ever been.

Dana a teenager with gender identity issues, has a mother is in the hospital. Her father has flaked out / run off / turned invisible. In Dana's frantic dreams, her mirror image--definitely female, wearing a distorted and unsettling layer of cosmetics)--moves independently, laughs maniacally. This explains the title of the series, right?

Dana journeys into a bizarre dreamworld of sparkly ballerinas, sockpuppet feet, jugglers at a circus, schools of fish flying through the air, little sphinx-like cats with rainbow wings. Possibly Dana is a protofan. There's a man in flowing black--a guide? her dad? he isn't around much, actually, so fat lot of good he does. Dana carries a book with warnings written in it, is surrounded by four-limbed creatures with long sharp beaks, finds herself wearing bunny slippers. Art, self-expression, spiral staircases, oh, this is Not Symbolic At All. Dana sees her own face in wanted posters.

She meets a boy with a sort of blocky face (Blockhead) and they travel together. In her dream, she has dreams/visions of the real world, in which she struggles with relationships and desire. Troubled by the feminine self in the mirror, she falls back on her old habits of stoicism and ironic detachment. She fears taking risks.

She wears a vertically-divided mask, half white and half black. It doesn't really do the job she needs it to.

(BTW, disappearing inside your own dreamworld is unlike disappearing up your own butt because. Um. It's just different, OK?)

White rose in bloom on Mom's chest. Dana's journey is a quest for a cure for her mom, which OMG SPIDER ON FACE SO NOT OKAY WITH ME.

Dana visits a library, but the books won't cooperate, so she can't get the answers there. She meets a giant eight-limbed beast (two heads, four arms, four legs--Origin of Love, anyone?), which tragically splits in two, dropping a silver box that contains a key. Another creature, winged, carries Dana on a fantastic journey far above ground. She enters the gates of a vast estate.

Dana triggers the mechanism that powers a bunch of jack-in-the-box like clockwork people-shaped things, who sensually transform her into an elegant, gothy female with all-black eyes, a native of the dreamworld, mysterious and powerful.

The pictures on the wanted posters change to reflect her new face. She juggles with Blockhead, who is astonished to discover her new awesome powerz of juggling.

She acquires a silver... mirrormask. Oh. Now she just has to get back home with it. WTF shorthaired blond boy in real world? Oh, he's Blockhead! When Dana finally finds her way back to the real world, she is reunited with her dad (but apparently not her mom, who I assume is ded nao). Later at a club, Dana meets blond boy for the first time. They get along. He admits he had a funny dream and he thinks she was in it. She's pretty sure she knows who he is, too. "The last time I saw you, we were just split in two, you were looking at me, I was looking at you..."

Stranger 2

All I knew about this fandom was:

Neil Gaiman, Jim Henson, movie, puppets?

Here's what this fandom is really about:

Georgette is an outsider, a skinny tomboy that doesn't fit in anywhere. She spends a lot of time alone, working on her creepy art. So Georgette begins to disconnect with reality, and tries to find herself through the world created by her imagination, in her pieces of artwork. Eventually, the line blurs, and the art world becomes the real world - Georgette is plunged into a shadowy, Escher-like reality full of monsters, secrets, and mysteries.

The mirror-world Georgette has created is seductive and escapist, and she longs to become a part of it. She tries to present a more confident, mature version of herself. It's a mask, a facade that she is presenting to protect herself and fit in. But she's growing up too fast, and wearing such a mask is tiring. What seemed fun has now turned deadly. This reality is dangerous, and Georgette longs to return home and see her family.

But now she's on the other side of the mirror, and her life has spun out of control. Her mirror version, with whom she apparently swapped places, is taking over her life. Georgette can see her doppelganger, seducing boys and causing trouble. Her mother is ailing, and Georgette must find a way back home. Georgette allows herself to become even more a part of the mirror-world, in hopes of finding a way out. She plays the part perfectly, wears the mask well, and finally makes it back with the help of like-minded souls in both realms.

Stranger 3

All I knew about this fandom was:

Not one thing. I assumed by the title that it was anime, but apparently I was wrong. Sort of. Ha.

Here's what this fandom is really about:

So there's this girl. Who is sort of androgynous. We'll call her Girl Bowie. So Girl Bowie's mom is in the hospital, which is part of the local carnival. Girl Bowie likes to draw on floors and also walls, as she is more than a little crazyface. One day, she's drawing on the floor, like you do, and her dad comes to tell her, "Hey Girl Bowie, your mom's in a coma." She cries and generally throws a tantrum. Once she's exhausted herself, she goes home to her apartment, which is also part of the carnival, and goes to sleep.

Well that's when the shit hits the fan. Inside Girl Bowie's head is a crazy, MC Escher-esque world that looks like it was ripped directly from "The Cell." You know, that awful Jennifer Lopez movie? Anyway, she wanders around this world that's populated by SpiderFace, a woman with, you guessed it, a spider on her face. And also by a guy with Concept Hair. And a council of creepy guys who sit in a circle.

Anyway, Girl Bowie wanders around this world for a while, and then she realizes that in this world, her mom is still in a coma, only she looks like Blonde Cher - that's right - even in her fantasy dreamland, her mom is still in a coma?

So after her wandering, Girl Bowie ends up in this room full of clocks and a creepy Jester who uses the floor fans and some pixie dust to turn her into a goth princess. Then she realizes that she is wanted for murder and so it's time to go home. Except she sort of is home, since she's in her own screwed-up head. So she finds this mirror
where she can see herself in real life, and she realizes that her real life is still going on while she's stuck in The Cell. Clearly, she has multiple personalities. She tries to jump back into the real world, Air Jordan style, but she dissolves. It's kind of sad, but even more crazy.

The end.

Stranger 4

All I knew about this fandom was:

It's based on a Neil Gaiman work? Thus, probably fantasy, with a potential for randomly appearing gods. Presumably, there are mirrors. And masks.

Here's what this fandom is really about:

A Slayer who grew up in a traveling circus battles hereditary schizophrenia, but eventually, with the help of Andrew from the Watcher's Council, she manages to leave her delusions behind.

What You Waiting For chronicles her descent into madness, while Illusion and Dream is a fuller treatment of our young Slayer's journey. Both note her mother's long-term hospitalization for the same condition, as well as her early days, before Buffy's battle with the First Evil resulted in the activation of Potential Slayers around the world. Her coming insanity is presaged by the different colored socks on her feet: white for sanity, black for madness. "We're drifting aimlessly" denotes her lack of purpose. Yes, she performs for the circus (heir to the depression-era Carnivàle?), but her life is unfulfilled.

Little does our Slayer know that her genes for the disease are about to manifest for the first time when a strange man in a dark coat approaches her on a rooftop. He's the harbinger of her descent into madness, accelerated by her new abilities and the crushing disappointment of romantic betrayals: her friend steals the boy she was interested in, starting a spiral of depression. "You know what drives me, out of my mind" –explicitly stating her insanity, and her street clothes change to white hospital pajamas.

She's still attempting to retain a hold on sanity, but the music makes clear that surrender would be better: why are you struggling with your mind? Isn't it better here, away from the relentless betrayals of the real world?

Once she becomes more comfortable in her delusions, she adopts black garb in a scene of surpassing sensuality, fantasizing that she's the mistress of this bizarre landscape. Yet the deepening color palette really shows that she's become ever more lost, unable to return to reality. Her mind can't comprehend that she's been institutionalized, so she wanders a dreamscape of impossibilities. Her face fractures into a cubist nightmare, and she runs, confused, through her own imaginings. Her mother becomes a fairy princess trapped in slumber, books fly, spiral staircases propagate, and monsters and mythic beasts appear.

"What's going on fails to concern me, cause I'm locked behind my wall." Back in the real world, her doctors are doubtless attempting to reach her, adjusting medications and so on, but these videos omit those scenes, save for a single shot of her curled in on herself in the corner of her hospital room, to better concentrate on our Slayer's internal battles.

A white coated man appears in her delusions (probably enabled with a spell cast by Willow), his face obscured. He's Andrew, sent by the Watcher's Council to guide her out of her fantasies. When his face becomes clear, it's a signal that he's reaching our Slayer (likely with the help of a better pharmaceutical regime). She undergoes a baffling yet redemptive struggle to vanquish her personal devils, eventually succeeding when she casts a book down to the ground, once again wearing her hospital pajamas, then runs through the exit of her dreams pursued by scribbles on the wall. But they can't catch her – she's defeated her mental illness and stands ready to join the army of Slayers around the world in the fight against demonic evil.

Stranger 5

All I knew about this fandom was:

Absolutely nothing. Cool title, though!

Here's what this fandom is really about:

At first "Mirrormask" comes across as a bright childhood fantasy, but it has a dark and bitter center. I'm reminded of Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland," so I'll call the main character Alice.

Alice has been a part of a traveling circus for her entire life, but everything falls apart when her mother falls ill. Now she has a dying mother, a distant father, a life completely disconnected from everything she knows, and a brilliantly creative imagination.

It starts simply enough, Alice drawing fragments that come to her in strange dreams. But over time, the creatures that have populated Alice's sleep begin to appear, out the corner of her eye, in the real world. When Alice looks in the mirror, the girl there isn't quite her anymore. And she likes it.

Things get worse, as they often do. The more frustrated Alice becomes with her life, the more she retreats to unreality. Alice steps through into the mirror world, a place of sharp contrasts, good and evil, blood and stone. This is a place she is transformed into someone who is desirable, powerful, in control, where she can choose to be the hero or the villain, but never the victim.

All the shots of her in bed, in simple white clothes against a plain backdrop, make me wonder if Alice was institutionalized in the end. But since she's created a kingdom, a prince, and a happy ending for herself, I suppose she doesn't really care.

Stranger 6

All I knew about this fandom was:

Nothing at all.

Here's what this fandom is really about:

In a world parallel to ours, something is happening. An evil has come back, and only Pyjama!girl can fight it. It’s her destiny, (of course, this is fantasy ladies and gentlemen), one that’s hereditary it seems. It’s a sad day as she goes off to fight the baddies, her mother can’t come (she’s just had her appendix out) and neither can her father (terrible tragedy with the hair dryer, needs to do his hairfix it).

This has something for everyone. Do you like cute furry animals? Then you’ll love the adorable duck gorillas! Do you like to exercise? Then the endless running scenes are for you! What about coffee, struggle to get up in the morning without it? Yep, it’s got plenty of coffee beans too!

Most people ship goat-mask!man/pj!girl (or for the slashers there’s pj!girl/pj!girl’s evil twin) but there is a small contingent who go for pj!girl/duck!gorrilla third from the left.

In conclusion, MirrorMask is a typical coming of age story. Young girl is pressured into the family business, girl wants to join the circus instead, girl realises that she can do both in the parallel world with the duck!gorillas.

Stranger 7

All I knew about this fandom was:

It's a Neil Gaiman creation.

Here's what this fandom is really about:

So this is The Wizard of Oz for the modern audience. Dorothy is an artistic girl (she draws just like Dave McKean, lucky thing!) whose Mom is dying and whose Dad doesn't know how to hold his emotionally vulnerable daughter together.

As she worries for her Mom, her active imagination, fired by a love for the circus, turns on her. Instead of a concussed dream after a tornado, Dorothy has a psychotic break. (Welcome to YA stories, new millennium style!) In a fantastic and creepy other world, she meets the people she knows in daily life under other guises, like her Mom and her boyfriend. In this case, even she herself becomes "other"—as magical automatons update the poppies to a silver sparkle dust that leave her compliant as they dress and make her up into a Geisha-like princess. Unfortunately the princess seems to belong to the Dark Palace, and Dorothy must escape capture and save her Mom and get the boy. Which, of course, she does.

And, really, this is Neil Gaiman, so it may not all be a psychotic break after all ...

(As Dorothy plays with different personas, both in and out of the real world—young artist, clownface, innocent pajama girl, punk rocker, dark princess—I'm making up great meta in my head about makeup and masks and young women experimenting with finding their identity, but I have no idea whether that's actually explicit in the film.)
Tags: mirrormask, round 2

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