By Jill Smith © 2005
Many people believe literary works don’t necessarily shine on the cinema screen. It’s worth considering this: good stories abound with strong characters that the reader or viewer identifies with, keeping us hooked and making the experience memorable. Recently, I was delighted to enjoy The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a 2003 movie. Apart from the amazing computer-generated graphics that bring to life such surreal situations as the immense Nautilus cruising the Venice canals and gently bumping aside gondolas in its wake, it’s the combinations of fascinating characters borrowed from legend that capture the imagination and have the viewer spellbound.
After seeing the movie I did some research as to where this remarkable tale originated. The heroes comprising the ‘League’ are brought together by ‘M’, whom we later discover to be their nemesis, the famous villain Moriarty from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’ series, originally published in 1879. The group is brought together to fight the ‘Fantom’, an entity creating havoc worldwide by using advanced weapons to generate suspicion of power-play among world powers.
The League comprises characters from classic literary tales: Allan Quatermain(Sean Connery), the swashbuckling larger-than-life greatest big game hunter of South Africa, originally from H Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines (1856).Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah), the Captain of the submarine Nautilus from Jules Vern’s novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1869), Mina Harker (Peta Wilson), originally Mina Murray from Bram Stokers’ Dracula (1897). Rodney Skinner (Tony Curran), an adapted character from H G Wells ‘The Invisible Man’ (1897), who steals the invisibility formula from the original character Hawley Griffin, Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend), adapted from Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ (1890), who with his immortality and charm is the group’s potential undoing. Tom Sawyer (Shane West) is now a US Special Agent, an adult version of the main youth character in Mark Twain’s ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ (1876),Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Jason Fleming), from Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ (1886). The computer graphics of his transformation from man to man-beast is awesome.
The piecing together of the story is exquisite. We follow the characters of these literary treasures as together they battle a dark enemy. The pace ebbs and flows throughout their journey, the action peaking at three different battle scenes, that are brilliantly cut from one shot to the other intensify the climax.
Don’t be put off if you’re not a sci-fi fan: this I a fast paced, exciting, action adventure – an escape into a world of endless possibilities.