In the first episode of Hogfather, the Auditors begin their plan to destroy Hogswatch. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Hogfather.
Hello, friends, and I hope this came as a surprise! Since I finished Discworld earlier this year, I have consistently been on a number of deadlines that have eaten up my free time. Turns out that all my various editors got super productive during quarantine! But now that my last deadline is complete—my middle grade novel is in to my editor!!!—I thought I’d tackle the first of many of the adaptations of Pratchett’s work. This is only first by virtue of the lovely Rob, who asked for their previous Mark Reads commissions to be moved to Hogfather. None of the other adaptations have been claimed yet, so feel free to email me if you’d like to work out claiming them! (I ask that you email BEFORE commissioning just in this one case because I have a fairly small window in which I should be able to do a few more of these. Basically, by September 1, it looks like I’ll be having to deal with both the upcoming release of my second book AND a move, so things are gonna get BUSY.)
So, I thought I’d bring back the classic list format so I could yell my thoughts on this adaptation to y’all.
- Holy shit, this was really good? As I understand it, this is one of the more revered adaptations, and I can see why. Pratchett’s work relies on the written word so heavily that the task of bringing it to a new medium is daunting. But this FELT like the Discworld in the way it looked. In the humor. In the casting. In the sets and the language and the word play and SO MANY THINGS.
- I have to talk about casting first, because goddamn, this was unreal. UNREAL.
- Michelle Dockery!!! Oh, what a great choice for Susan, first of all. Dockery does a fantastic job of combining Susan’s no-nonsense personality with her burning curiosity. I don’t know if Dockery read Discworld or intended this, but there was a real sense here that Susan has dealt with shenanigans before and now wanted nothing to do with that life. I respect that they kept all that stuff in.
- Marc Warren as Teatime. Holy shit. What is there left to say? Warren IS Teatime and it was so unnerving to watch him IMMEDIATELY be this character. He’s supremely creepy. Brilliant. Uninterested in anything that he sees as dull. The pitch and timbre of his voice!!! That fucking LAUGH. Y’all, I can’t deal with it at ALL.
- Generally I wait to watch adaptations so that I have my own vision of a character in my head rather than someone else’s. That being said: so many of these characters look pretty much how I imagined them to? Death. Nobby. Ponder Stibbons. The wizards. Albert. Death. Binky. Banjo. DEATH. Oh, Death is designed so well, especially their voice!
- From the start, I also felt confident that what would follow would be in the spirit of the book and the series. I mentioned that on video, but it’s truly how I approach adaptations. Does it capture the tone and meaning of the original? Is it wholly its own work, just based in premise on the original? What isn’t faithful to the original text, and how is that advantageous or detrimental?
- Since it’s been literal YEARS since I read Hogfather, I had a grasp of the basic story and many of the beats, but didn’t remember the details all the time. Like, I remember that Death had trouble understanding how to grant gifts to children but couldn’t remember if that happened in the department store like it does here?
- But I’m not sure everything HAS to be the same, since the film captures the vibe that Pratchett pulled off anyway. There’s a gentle satire of Christmas in this while still showing us Death’s genuine attempt to not only get these traditions right, but to further understand humans and all their silly ways. But otherwise, this seemed to be a fairly faithful adaptation of Hogfather and the Discworld universe. If you hadn’t read the book, I still think you’d be able to comprehend this movie, even in all its weirdness.
- There are also so many little jokes, references, and details that fans of the books will pick up on. Constable Visit! The Big Bang during the intro! I AM STILL SHAKING MY FIST AT THAT PUN.
- The physicality of this adaptation also added another layer of joy for me. To actually SEE Ankh-Morpork was a delight, y’all. Though I wish I could have seen more of the city itself? Understandably, this first part is focused on rooftops, Susan’s residence, and Unseen University. The University itself was done so well. Wow, that tower was way higher than I assumed it was. But they got so many details right! Like the look of Hex. Or how the wizards dressed. Or that room with multiple tables FULL of food. Yes!!! Yes!!!!!!!! The wizards are always eating, and that passing detail was great.
- The same goes for the Hogfather’s home, which truly conveys the whole “I used to be a pagan-esque god who people sacrificed shit to” thing. Like, his Castle of Bones does not look cute or whimsical. It’s kind of terrifying!
- The tower of the Tooth Fairy managed to be kind of silly (those helmets!!!!) and completely horrifying. And it exists in another realm, so it better look fucking weird!
- For entirely selfish reasons, I was glad all the teeth didn’t look too realistic. They looked like perfectly white candies. Which I’m fine with because teeth just… make me uncomfortable? But there’s an element of body horror here, since these teeth are used to control people all over the Disc.
- Another beautifully designed location: Death’s home!!!! Oh, the little shot of the front yard! The use of color! THE BACKGROUND SOUND OF ALL THE SAND RUNNING IN YHE HOUR GLASSES. That was spectacularly done!!!
- It’s hard to talk about the story as a whole, since there’s a whole half of it yet to be told, but this set things up wonderfully. I didn’t feel like it rushed the major points; it wasn’t confusing. The film lets moments spread out, instead of jumping too quickly from one scene to the next. Some of the best parts of the book, if they got adapted, are in the second half of this. The monologue about belief… oh, I hope it’s there!!!!
- So, lets save some thoughts for the second half. Which goes up tomorrow!!! Both videos are available in the store at the link below, for the record.
- Y’all, this was genuinely very, very good. I’m impressed!
(Episode 2 goes up at the same time tomorrow, FYI.)
The video for Hogfather, part 1 can be downloaded here for $1.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– You can now pre-order my second YA novel, Each of Us a Desert, which will be released on September 15, 2020 from Tor Teen!
– Not only that, but my very first pre-order campaign is now live for North American readers! If you submit proof of pre-order, you can get a limited edition print that comes with the book.
– If you’d like to stay up-to-date on all announcements regarding my books, sign up for my newsletter! DO IT.