“‘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.
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