The 100 Books Project: Moving Pictures.

“‘Not really,’ said Victor. ‘Everything looks interesting until you do it. Then you find it’s just another job. I bet even people like Cohen the Barbarian get up in the morning thinking, “Oh, no, another day of crushing the jeweled thrones of the world beneath my sandalled feet.”‘”


“Moving Pictures” by Terry Pratchett

An unexpected discovery in the Alchemist’s Guilt. A hermit priest’s death. An interrupted slumber and a thousand elephants. These are the components that bring the far distant Holy Wood to life on Discworld, and the results are, as one would expect, not only what they seem. Moving Pictures is another brilliant Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett, easily one of my favorite comedic writers, about a young man named Victor, a star-struck young woman named Ginger, and a talking dog named Gaspode. They are each drawn to the mysterious Holy Wood for different reasons. Holy Wood, the place where dreams come true! Holy Wood, the place where stars are born! Holy Wood, the place where a great magic even more dangerous and unfathomable than anyone could imagine is awakening, stirring, and preparing to emerge…

One of my favorite things about Pratchett’s writing is the nuance he’s able to accomplish. His humor and jokes are often subversive and subtle, clever and underhanded. Most of the jokes and humor in Moving Pictures, however, felt a little too obvious for my tastes. As a matter of fact, the book itself felt that way. A parody of Hollywood and the movie business, the writing is still smart, the satire of such a pop culture entity searing, but it is one of the earlier Discworld novels and I often feel that Pratchett hasn’t quite hit his stride yet with some of them. I was tempted to say that perhaps the problem is that Hollywood is a distinctly American phenom: Pratchett’s British humor might be clashing a little with the outrageous of an American product, but then I recall Witches Abroad, which bring his characters to a very New Orleans setting, and I thought that book was brilliant. So maybe it’s just that Hollywood and the movie business themselves are just so transparent and obvious that any parody of them will reflect that. I just felt that it was surprisingly obvious and blatant for a Pratchett novel.

Other than some uncharacteristic obviousness, Moving Pictures was still a delight, though perhaps not the full tour de force as some of my favorite Discworld tales. There is still an awful lot of clever stuff going on here, some very nice turning of traditional conventions and cliches onto their ears, and two main characters that I found incredible real in the fact that I saw a lot of myself in both of them. They’re not great characters that one is likely to love, but there’s something very refreshing about their authenticity as people. We also get glimpses of other characters I know and enjoy from other books, especially the troll Detritus, who I have always loved in the Watch books. I enjoyed it greatly, though perhaps not as much as some of the other, later books.

Books read: 10/100.

Lastly, I’d like to take a moment to give my gratitude to Stella Marr for following the blog. Thanks for the subscription, and welcome aboard! I know I’m really looking forward to following you and your fascinating story, as well.

5 responses

  1. I’ve not read this one, but I like Terry Pratchett. If you had to pick three of his that you must read, which would you pick?

    1. I’m pretty sure what you’re asking, sir, is impossible. I do know that if I had to pick just one, I would pick The Fifth Elephant, for having quite possibly my favorite ending to any book ever.

      And then I’m tempted to say Going Postal, because there’s got to be some Moist in there, and then I’m torn between Feet of Clay and Thud! as my favorite Watch book after The Fifth Elephant. I just love the message of both of them so much, but then there’s Men at Arms, which is an exceptional introduction to so many great characters. Monstrous Regiment is a great choice for a non-Anhk-Morporkian adventure, but so is Carpe Jugulum…..

      And then there are the ones I haven’t even gotten to reading yet myself that are sure to contend with these ones. So, I guess, if I was forced to choose….

      The Fifth Elephant, Going Postal, and Monstrous Regiment. I think those are the ones that would give me enough of my fix and of Pratchett’s wit and charm if I had to deprive myself of all the others.

      1. It’s probably safe to say you like Terry Pratchett then.

        Personally I haven’t had much chance to read many of his, at least not recently so I have an idea now of some to choose! I have Unseen academicals in the pile to read (it’s a big pile).

        1. …He’s okay, I guess.

          Unseen Academicals is on my pile, too. I bought it the moment it came out in paperback, but there’s just so many other books to read, too, and I want to catch up with some of the earlier Discworld ones I haven’t read yet, too.

  2. I have a box full of Terry Pratchett – downsized when I moved but couldn’t throw any of these out.
    Found your blog via Eden Mabee, when I said I was looking for some more writing challenges. I have been doing the ones from Terrible Minds every week – but they are 1000 words in 7 days.
    Your 5 minute ones would be a challenge for my hunt and peck typing speed.
    Maybe I need to add to my next ROW80 the objective of finally learning touch typing. Never too old to learn something – I only became a writer a couple of years ago.
    Now I aspire to be a good writer ;-)

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