philosophy at age eight

“If you cannot control your peanut butter, you cannot expect to control your life.”
~ Judah-ism

Saturday, July 9, 2011

carnivàle (drama review)

I didn't get a chance to watch the HBO series Carnivàle in 2003 when it came out, but I recently got my hands on a copy of this series, and let me tell you... I loved it.

Debut poster
From IMDb:
1934, America. The Dustbowl. A fugitive named Ben Hawkins finds refuge within a traveling carnival comprised of a tarot card reader and her catatonic/ telekinetic mother, a blind mentalist, a bearded lady, and conjoined twins, amongst others. The carnival is owned by the mysterious and unseen Management, who has designs on the young Hawkins, for the boy is concealing an untapped gift: he can heal the lame and raise the dead--at a price. Ben also finds himself disturbed by cryptic and prophetic dreams, which he shares with a Methodist preacher in California, Brother Justin Crowe. Brother Justin, convinced by his dreams he is following God's will, has begun to practice his own extraordinary talents, although the preacher's plans increasingly lead to disturbing and tragic consequences. In this "last great age of magic," Ben Hawkins and Justin Crowe are moving toward a great conflict between Good and Evil, although it not yet clear on which sides these men will stand.

Imagine:  a Depression-era fantasy told through a bunch of "carnies" in a traveling carnival. When I read that description, I went on a hunt to get my hands on a copy.

It was dark and bitter and slow. And it ended somewhat abruptly at the end of the second season. But it was a fantastic ride. Hauntingly beautiful, but soul-sucking and grinding at the same time.

Nick Stahl as "Ben Hawkins", and
Michael J. Anderson as "Samson"
Jonesy & the mother-daughter cootch show, Rita Sue and Libby
Lila, the Bearded Lady and Ruthie, the snake charmer

The characters were both fantastic yet real; hard times called for hard decisions and it was impossible to point out a single character and say "that's one of the good guys."

Libby & Sofie
Sofie acted as interpreter for her catatonic fortune teller mother
Iris, sister of Brother Justin
 The atmosphere of the show, spine-cinching dread mingled with Depression-era decor and 1930's music piped through a phonograph, is one I feel like I'll miss forever, now that I've had a taste. Awesomely envisioned by Daniel Knauf.

Iris and her Brother Justin
 Trailer for first season:

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