Helena Campbell was born into a family of circus performers who put on an amazing performance of comedy, acrobatics, stunts and entertainment to the masses; however Helena just wants a normal life. In her travelling caravan she has created her own world of light and shadow, and one night she wakens to find her normal world shrouded in darkness, lost in a monochromatic land she has so longed to escape to – however the balance of this world is broken and a shadow threatens to engulf all who stand in its way.
Mirrormask has been a favourite of mine for so long I forget exactly how I came upon this film. Helena’s adventure begins in a dilapidated apartment building on the seafront of Brighton whose bohemian look sets the visual style for the movie, in fact I found its crumbling walls of dulled whites and mossy blacks so visually striking and characterful that I soon visited the area myself.
Helens drawings and indeed the world behind the mirror is a surreal sepia dream world of strange creatures and asymmetric architecture complete with flying fish, talking chickens, floating books and giants orbiting. No surprise then that the creative team behind this film is non-other than the Jim Henson Company (responsible for such paradoxes as Labyrinth 1986 and The Dark Crystal 1982).
The score (composed by Iain Ballamy) is an eclectic mixture of saxophone jazz, ambient soundscapes, and haunting mechanical samples and melodies – it features a particularly surreal version of Close To You by the Carpenters depicted by mechanical clockwork figures who cast a dark enchantment over Helena during her capture by The Queen of Shadows.