Well, this is embarrassing, a Monday a didn’t account for. Well to put it rather simply, I hated The Man who laughs as a book and as movies.

Now I can officially move away from it and start the next book except I’m not. You see I have plans for October so I don’t want to start the Phantom posts in September only  to break the next month, so except something new next week.

 

 

 

 

There are actually a few other version of The Man who Laughs including one from 1921 and 1971 but the 1928 is the most well know, the 1966 is the most infamous and the 2012 is the most recent, so that covers the major base.

Before I end The Man who Laughs I just wanted to discuss its impact on popular culture.

The Joker, Batman, the man who laughs, picture image

The Joker

Have you ever heard of the Joker? The Joker’s look is based on Conrad Viedt’s make-up from the 1928 movie. In fact a one-shot Batman comic from 2005 is called “The Man Who Laughs. ”

but there are some more (got these off of Wiki and there is more)
-In H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), Moreau refers to L’Homme qui Rit when explaining the nature of his experiments to the protagonist.
-A short story by the name of “The Laughing Man” (first published in 1949) is featured in J. D. Salinger’s Nine Stories (1953). The story appears to be influenced by The Man Who Laughs, featuring an individual facially disfigured in his childhood by criminals who have kidnapped him.
-The novelist and essayist Ayn Rand adapted Hugo’s term “comprachicos” for her own purposes in a noted essay, published in The Objectivist in 1970.
-In James Ellroy’s book The Black Dahlia (1987), the mutilation murder of Elizabeth Short is partially inspired by a painting of Gwynplaine.
-In the 2003 “Wild Cards” episode of the Justice League animated series, The Joker infiltrated a TV station by using the alias “Gwynplaine Entertainment”.
-Laughing Man, a character in Japanese anime TV series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002–2003) and inspired by J. D. Salinger’s short story “The Laughing Man”.
-In the 2010 Rob Zombie album, Hellbilly Deluxe 2, the last song is titled “The Man Who Laughs” and is based on the story of the same name.

Well I do think the characters could have been richer or just more interesting it does that Gwynplaine’s look does inspire people, albeit more villainous than the character or what Hugo was going with the character’s laughing face as mirror to an elitist society but whatever.

Moving on, the next book is about a deformed French guy who lives in a Paris Landmark and the story has been made into a famous musical and lot movies. Yeah, it’s Phantom of the Opera. (though there will be a hiatus till then )

 

This version is so unremarkable. Nothing about this movie stands out in way that is appealing. It is one of the most tepid movies I have ever seen. It’s so bland and that is slightly amazing. Typically movies have something about that makes them standout even if its negative point but this is so under-whemling, that at 25 minutes I felt we should have been at the thrity  minute mark and nothing happened.

Marc-André Grondin as Gywnplaine and Emmanuelle Seigner as Josiana The Man Who Laughs picture image

Marc-André Grondin as Gywnplaine and Emmanuelle Seigner as Josiana

The plot does follow the book, though it has it differences. Like Barky just seems to want to keeps his position, Josiana is aged and is Gywnplaine’s cousin (I think) and they do sleep together which causes Dea’s depression and suicide by arsenic. Homo does very little and he not really a plot point like in the book. The movie puts a lot of focus one the performances of  Gywnplaine, Ursus and Dea.  Gywnplaine  tries to quell his love for Dea not because of the blindness but because of their sister/brother being raised together  relationship. Barky doesn’t send Ursus and Dea away in fact he brings to  Gywnplaine and Dea hears Josiana and  Gywnplaine going at it. Also no David and the Queen wasn’t present or seem to care about screwing over Josiana.  That is all the differences I care to recall.

So how is this movie unremarkable. Well first off the acting. If these people were acting they either were directed terribly  or they didn’t care. I also thought the casting on Dea and Josiana were way off. Dea is supposed to be a celestial ethereally young lady and do not get me wrong, the lady they cast is lovely but she had the wrong type for the role. She seemed earthy and natural. Mary Philbin was better cast. I hate to even say this but the lady who played Josiana was too old. I thought Josiana was supposed to be like Esmeralda, careful and full of life. This women just seemed like a bored housewife. It was a decision the filmmaker made that I neither get nor like though she was the best actress so there is the tradeoff.

Marc-André Grondin as Gywnplaine and Christa Théret as Dea The Man Who Laughs picture image

Marc-André Grondin as Gywnplaine and Christa Théret as Dea

The we have the colors, or rather lack of them. This movie likes grey, black and white. So the acting is dull and boring and so is the color palette. I won’t say that movies can’t have this style but you need to make it visually interesting and its not. The shots are pretty basic and when it tries to have an interesting shot it just seem like uninspired.

Marc-André Grondin as Gywnplaine The Man Who Laughs picture image

Marc-André Grondin as Gywnplaine

The costumes were also boring but what is really was flat,  Gywnplaine’s make-up. It literally looked like they just drew on red paint to make his smile. This make him humanized but it looks so lazy. I can’t see why people would find it fascinating the same way as the 1928 version.

 

Also the music was inappropriate. At ending where Dea and  Gywnplaine die the music during the credits is like super happy and carnival-esque. It was like a slap in the face.

At least Homo was a wolf but that is the only positive thing.

One more thing, I don’t want to give the impression that I know a ton about art history on a whole but at one point in the movie Barky brought out portraits of  Gywnplaine’s parents. The first one was of his mother and it was a John Singer Sargent Portrait of the Duchess of Sutherland. Lovely portrait but it took me right out of the movie.

 

Do not recommend this version.  Just watch the 1928 version.

 

Full Disclosure, I couldn’t actually watch this movie, I tried but the trailer told me everything I could ever need know about this version and then someone on IMDB gave the specifics.

The Who Laughs 1966 Poster picture image

The Who Laughs 1966 Poster

This version seems precious.

You can watch the trailer here, http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/466045/Man-Who-Laughs-The-Original-Trailer-.html

Where do I even start?  What were the screenwriter and the director smoking with this movie? First, The Man who Laughs is not an Adventure Novel. Oh, that just brought a smile to my face.

I mean what is this movie? There is nothing of the novel to be seen in this trailer but my god is this not the best one minute and thirty nine seconds? I feel like the movie’s craziness just leeches off the screen.

Apparently someone did see it according to a post of IMDB and here some core differences, so SPOILERS;

-Dea’s mother didn’t die and travels around with Dea, Ursus and Gwynplaine. And here I thought they cut Ursus as he didn’t seem to be in the trailer. (This is a weird change but it seems harmless, misses a point but whatever.)
-Gwynplaine is the royal court executioner and not a mountebank. Though he says cool lines and such before he axes people. (But still why? It’s just No, that is stupid.)
-Gwynplaine and Josiana sleep together (That is BS but we’ll see this change again.)
-Apparently Barkilphedro and soldiers gang rape Dea. (That is just awful, F-U movie, you ruined it. You had this stupidity that was darling and now it’s all gone. I hate you.)
-Gwynplaine keeps his title and gets sugery to correct his deformity and Dea’s eyes get magically fix. (This movie should be destroyed!)
source

Well it seems like this movie had some idea of a story they wanted to make, some Royal Court intrigue but they needed a source for characters so they attached the Man who Laughs. This movie seems like a Fan-Fiction.

If it wasn’t for the some BIG plot changes like Dea and the very stupid happy ending it would seem like hilariously naive version but it seems more waste of the original source material and I didn’t even like the original source material but this movie seems like crap-poo, no wonder you can’t watch it.

Also it takes place in Italy instead of England and it’s the Borgias. So wrong place and time. That doesn’t bother me, just saying. Though I did like the Showtime show of The Borgias.

Conrad Veidt as Gwynplaine and Mary Philbin as Dea The man who laughs picture image

Conrad Veidt as Gwynplaine and Mary Philbin as Dea

I just finished watching the 1928 The Man Who Laughs. Maybe it’s that I have a low attention span for silent films based on books I don’t really like or maybe it was because I have been on a crazy Modern Family watching binge, either way this movie was work to finish.

I will admit I was a little interested in seeing this movie as Mary Philbin, who was in Phantom, Conrad Veidt who I just saw in another movie recently where he plays a Frolloesque character and Brandon Hurst who played Frollo in the 1923 version. Here Hurst plays the villain again, man he is type-cast as Hugoian villains. So I didn’t not want to watch it but then it started…

Like the book the plot just goes Zoom-By. I still didn’t really get a feeling for any of the characters, in fact we lost Homo’s sensitivity and Ursus’ grumpiness but we didn’t get long histories of the peerage system OR that snow storm as sea scene, so take you pick at which one was better.

Conrad Veidt as Gwynplaine and Olga V. Baklanova as Josiana The man who laughs picture image

Conrad Veidt as Gwynplaine and Olga V. Baklanova as Josiana

Really, the only good thing about this movie is Veidt’s facial or rather eye emotions. The look of Gwynplaine it so otherworldly that is the only thing memorable about anything along with Veidt’s acting. The other people aren’t bad but there isn’t much to go on really.

The ending was a mixed bag too. The lovers live and that is fine, I actually think the ending didn’t make much sense in the book, Hugo just wanted a tragic ending so it was trite but before they can get to the happy ending there is a big dumb chase because silent movies love big dumb chases at the end, ask Phantom of the Opera. And if that wasn’t bad or dumb enough Homo kills Barky. It doesn’t really matter, Barky was a lame villain anyway but still he could have just drown which would have been at least a call back to the book. Also Homo was a dog not a wolf, that isn’t a complaint just a fact, was more likely easier on the production.

Now here are some weird things;

-The lady who played Josiana, Olga V. Baklanova, looked like Madonna, the singer…. good thing they didn’t remake this movie in Madonna’s heyday. Josiana also got a monkey,. Apparently Baklanova’s resemblance to Madonna has been noted by modern critic…… and people on IMBD but if you have eyes you can see it too, it not subtle.
-I don’t know what the heck they did to David’s character. I thought he was suppose to be sophisticated but he acted so derpy in this movie. Was he meant to be a flop?
-This movie is ALL over the place with its costumes and set pieces timeframe. Like it said 17th century (pretty sure), at the start but the costumes range from the 1700s to late Victorian to the 1920’s. They had no idea of what period this story takes place in. But you know that didn’t REALLY bother me but you know what did a little bit, the amusement park rides. This movie has a rides at the 17th century fair. This just looked so out of place.
-as of 2015 there hasn’t been an American remake of this movie and the 1928 movie it is the ONLY American version.
-This version is the basis for the Joker’s look, not a weird thing just awesome…

Basically with the this version of the book the best thing you can say is the make-up and the acting were decent but the rest of it felt moldy. I wish the characters were better developed but then we wouldn’t have gotten that chase scene…….. can’t win…….it’s either a snow storm or a chase.

The Man who Laughs Part II:  Book 9; In Ruins

                                               &

The Man who Laughs Part II: Conclusion: The Night and the Sea  

I was going to talk about the ninth part and the conclusion separately but to heck with that, I’m so happy to be done with this book. Seriously this book was like some kind of life-sucking monster only more boring.

So what happens at the end? If I said not much would be you surprised?  Gwynplaine goes full on emo and almost kills himself as his family is gone and his former life. I did like this part because it was very Hugo, it was like reading a Frollo chapter which I find a delightful combination of beautiful and hilarious. They are lovely proses but read them out loud and it is so melodramatic.

So Gwynplaine is about to kill himself when Homo licks his hand. Homo leads him to Ursus and Dea. Dea is dying because Gwynplaine is not there. However when Gwynplaine presents himself to Dea, she dies anyway because she is too happy or something. Ok, what the shit? This makes no fucking sense. Tragic it is but fuck it, Hugo just wanted a tragic ending. Oh and then Gwynplaine kills himself. Whatever I don’t care really.

I get that this story is more thematic than story or characters or a plot. It’s more a tale of society and its outlook on wealth, customs and humanity. It’s art more than entertainment and more stylistic of the times it was written in, I get it.

HOWEVER it’s still a story, I have to make a sense of it.

Basically the plot goes that King had noble child kidnapped, disfigured, and left to die but then he is  adopted with a  blind infant to a wise curmudgeon and his sensitive wolf. The boy grows up and is in  an ethereal love with the blind girl and is both revered and mocked for his laughing face but it’s cool because he has love. And then in the MOTHER of all coincidence some old jerky guy working at the palace who wants to piss off a hot noble chick just so happens to find evidence that the disfigure guy is a noble and should marry the lady who he wanted to piss off and has a thing for disfigure guy. So they make him a peer but since rich people suck and don’t get it, the disfigure peaces out and finds his love dying and then he dies. WHY?

I wish Hugo had taken more time in the story to get us emotionally connected to the characters. The most I can say about Dea is that she innocent and ethereal. I don’t really doubt her love for Gwynplaine but I didn’t feel anything when she died because Hugo likes sad endings but for an ending to be sad you need an emotional connection.

More than there was no other closure with Josiana who was big player in this story. All there was like a “fine, whatever” on her end and it was in the form of a letter. And just to make me a little more bewilder, the events of the story proper, are like two days, tops. So in the course of two days Gwynplaine says he will be a peer,  leave and Dea dying.  Just because it’s a thematic story with meaning doesn’t mean you can’t have good characters. So while I don’t know much about the characters of this story I know shit tons about how storms start at sea and the British  Peerage System, Classic Fucking Entertainment.

Nope, I didn’t like this story, nooooooope  maybe the movies  will be better at least they can’t describe the storm at sea as much a Hugo did.

The Man who Laughs Part II:  Book 8: The Capital and things around it

I am not opposed to learning about British history, I’m opposed to it interrupting my boring story. Seriously, most of this part of the book is learning that the British peers are jerk-faces.  And because at this point I’m just trying to get this book done, I’m really skimming the thing and at one point I must have forgotten that I was alive because Gwynplaine’s snapped me back into breathing.

Gwynplaine goes on a nice tirade about how he is laughing at these false supreme Lords and that he is reality. That part I liked but you have to go through Lord Pooington, Earl of Crapiwoodshire, Blah blah blah, pardon my lame attempt at humor it was just really boring to read about  the Lords of England AGAIN for what like the third time?

I did like that at the end one of the chapters, where the Lords are upset that Gwynplaine didn’t bow to throne before leaving. Oh I should point out that this part was about Gwynplaine joining the House of Lords. And it at the end of this part that we learn about David and Gwynplaine being brothers. Also Josiana is just going to make David her lover so she figured out her problem, kudos.  Oh and David challenge some Lord to a dual, fun.

I know this is part of Hugo’s style, explaining context and histories but in books like Hunchback and Le Mis there was a larger plot, here it’s not like there isn’t a plot but it’s smaller and to keep going back and forth with characters and then describing architecture and the Lord  Fizzywater (again bad humor) just becomes tiring to read. I feel like nothing for characters, I mean I have little baring on Gwynplaine’s personality other than his looks and his lust.  AT least there was Ursus and Homo, they had personality.

The Man who Laughs Part II:  Book 7: The Titaness

If you’re like me, you thought this book would just be Hugo describing Gwynplaine’s fancy, confusing new digs. Fortunately, no he does not.

Gwynplaine comes to the conclusion that he would rather have Dea and his own life back. So he tries to leave the house-mansion-palace thing. However he can’t because he gets lost. Instead of finding an exit he finds the tempting Lady Josiana. Josiana then tries to seduce him. Girl has to work hard because Gwynplaine, while he does want her, he is like a deer in the headlights. He likes the idea of a woman wanting him who can see him, apparently blind devotion isn’t enough.

However Josiana turns a little hateful when a letter comes from the Queen telling her that Gwynplaine is now going to be her husband, which means Gwynplaine isn’t going to fulfill the role of lover but husband and that is too boring, so she leaves.

Lord David then shows up and Gwynplaine learns that his old pal Tom-Jim-Jack, who I never really paid a attention to, is really Lord David, Lady Josiana’s former fiancee and  rear-admiral. And they are half-brothers, Dun-Dun-Dunn.

I did like the part more than most, if only for Josiana’s waxing sexy poetics.

 The Man who Laughs Part II:  Book 6: Ursus Under Different Aspects

Barky is a jerk, this is known earlier but MY GOD.

So Ursus sees Gwynplaine go into the jail and not come out. Naturally he assumes that Gwynplaine is really a powerful lord lost in childhood and now restored to his glory. Yeah, no he assumes the worse for his child. He returns to Dea. His plan is to tell her the true which he assumes will kill her, though he lies instead and pretends Gwynplaine for the act.

Then Ursus get tattled on by the inn keeper for his wolf. I think the police come with Barky. They tells Ursus he has to leave England by tomorrow with Homo or the will kill Homo. It is also here that Barky tells Ursus that Gwynplaine is dead, and figurity yes he is. And then Barky gives Usrus ten guineas instead of the two thousand that Gwynplaine told him to give to Ursus and then he pockets the rest because and I quote

Barkilphedro loved money, especially money which was stolen.”

This guy isn’t even remotely likeable. Let me both this into perceptive here and you’ll pardon me from using Game of Thrones…….. but if Ramsey Bolton and Barky were in a fight I would still rather Ramsey Bolton, a fucking creepy-ass sadist, to win over this jerk and I HATE HOUSE BOLTON! I kind of want to call him Barky Bolton but I won’t. If Barky isn’t thrown off a famous English building I’m going to rage. (Not really but this guy needs to offed and if he is not I will rage.)

Then the inn keeper who snitched on Ursus gets arrest for harboring the wolf. I mean turn about being fair play and all but these guys are just asses. I mean Ursus had a loop-pole in the system and they didn’t honor it. Such Jerks!

The Man who Laughs Part II:  Book 5: The Sea and fate are Moved by the Same Breathe

Ok, I have to say before I get into this part of the book I read it like a few days ago maybe like a week or so before writing this blog post and I have been doing a lot work cleaning and moving stuff around my house and a family member’s house so I’m just really exhausted so if this post is missing anything major from this part of the book, I’m sorry.

That being said, not a lot happens in this part of the book, shocking I know considering all the action this book has had with its 900 pages about snow on the sea, I kid but still.

Basically we learn the back backstory of Gwynplaine and those people from that doctor dude. The king at the time of Gwynplaine’s parent’s sold him to the child nappers and disfigured him. The doctor then dies right before they were going to execute him.

Barky then takes Gwynplaine to his large and beautiful home where he tells him of his new position in life and offers him a single chance to turn it all down, which he doesn’t. He also going to marry Lady Josiana which I guess is like an insult to her according to Barky and Queen. I think Josiana’s fiancee is now disinherited or something because of Gwynplaine. If you know the particulars of that plot point* leave a comment though my guess is it will probably resurface later. I admit it, I do a lot of skimming, so I do miss stuff.

Oh and at the end of the part Gwynplaine thinks of Dea.  But I mean come on, this is a Victor Hugo novel, I’m sure everything will work out happily from our lovers, all sunshine and roses and general happy romance things.

* I read a spoiler so I sort of know now, tehe, also I got a “delightful” vague spoilery warning, which is why I end the post will sarcasm. As much as I have been complaining about this book, I’m looking forward to the movie versions at least it will clear up parts I have skimmed.

Also a little warning- I’m taking June off from these posts. I’m going to try and finish the book during the break, hopefully, my June could be busy too but a later post will explain why I’m doing this.