↠ What are Stalkers and the Shrike in Mortal Engines?

Monday, November 19, 2018

What are the Stalker Soldiers in Mortal Engines?

CAUTION: EPIC SPOILERS BELOW FOR BOTH BOOK AND FILM


The Stalkers of Mortal Engines are a kind of 'universal soldier' combatant that can be programmed for warfare and assassination.

Stalkers and their variations play various parts in each of Philip Reeve's Quartet of Mortal Engines, Predator's Gold, Infernal Devices and A Darkling Plain.

What are the origins of the Stalkers?


Stalkers originally were designed as mechanisms for humans to transfer their consciousness from one body to another, thus defeating death. The human mind could literally be saved to hard drive and then transferred into the body of another human.

It was post the 60 Minute War that the technology was adapted to make Stalkers into emotionless monsters to serve at the whim of their masters.

Often referred to as 'Resurrected Men' Stalkers were originally were built by the Nomadic Empires that battled each other across the volcano maze of what was once Europe long before the Traction Cities Era began.

The Nomadic Empires built Stalkers by recovering dead bodies from the battlefields, placing them in laboratories and then bringing them back 'life' by using 'Old Tech' machines that were physically connected to the dead body's nervous system. This practiced continued on unto the Traction City Era.

The bodies were also operated on so internal organs that were no longer necessary. The designers also would graft on a metal carapace to the body. Weapons could be implanted into the body and the use of claws was a common feature.

The best subjects were taller specimens and they looked a scary site with their glowing green eyes that all Stalkers had.

Stalkers are generally considered emotionless automatons, only acting at the will of their Masters.

Once a dead human is resurrected as a Stalker, they have no feelings, display no emotions and they will not have any memory of who they were before they died. Any past memories are jumbled messes and lost glimpses of their former life.

In Mortal Engines, the City of London manufactures its own Stalkers.

The London Guild of Engineers builds new Stalkers from dead prison convicts at their experimental prison in the Deep Gut. These particular Stalkers are not considered as refined as the infamous 'Shrike' due to use of less sophisticated stalker-brains, the devices used in the brains and nerves of Stalkers.

The origins of these Resurrected Men, begin to be explained in the first prequel in the Mortal Engines series, Fever Crumb.

shrike grike mortal engines


What is the Shrike in Mortal Engines?


The 'Shrike' was the first Stalker to be mentioned in the original Mortal Engines book.

His character was under the control of the Mayor of London Traction City, Magnus Chrome. Chrome used the Shrike to find Hester Shaw and Tom Natsworthy and he was ordered to kill them.

At face level this seemed a straight forward plot point however it was later revealed that The Shrike had once looked after Hester in a past life.

Due to his emotionally retarded state, his own goal in life was turn Hester into a Stalker as well, so they could live together forever.

In terms of memory retention, Shrike appears to be the exception to the rule as was able to recall his past life as 'Kit Solent' shortly before his death at the hands of Tom Natsworthy by sword. Kit Solent's tale and how he became a Stalker of the Lazarus Brigade in the prequel novel, Fever Crumb.

In the film Shrike is played by veteran actor Stephan Lang - you may remember him as the evil general in Avatar.

Are Stalkers invulnerable?


Stalkers are heavily protected their armour and but invulnerable to small arms fire and hand-held weaponry.

Due to their 'programming' they do not feel any pain as their nervous systems are rendered. This means they are pretty handy in hand to hand combat as even if their opponent is able to stab them or cause injury, they will not feel it and be able to continue to fight and thus increasing their chances of winning.

In Mortal Engines, Tom Natsworthy did manage to kill the Shrike Stalker with a sword by impaling it through his neck. The Shrike was suffering from some performance issues as he'd actually been run over by a Traction City!

hester and shrike

But there's a reason Stalkers are known as Resurrected Men....

Anna Fang as a Stalker in the sequel novels


In Mortal Engines, Anaa Fang was Tom and Hester's rescuer from the Shrike when he originally caught up with them on Airhaven.

Despite her herorics, Fang was ultimately killed by the dastardly Thaddeus Valentine in a sword fight.

In Predator's Gold it was revealed that a splinter group of the famed Anti Traction League called Green Storm had recovered Fang's body and applied the Stalker Resurrection techniques to it.

Green Storm had intended that the revived Anna Fang would lead them in battle against the remaining Traction Cities.

Eventually the resurrected Fang stalker would take part in many battles and features in Infernal Devices and A Darkling Plain where her character wreaks some pretty spectacular havoc using the ODIN device.

The Shrike concept art from Mortal Engines
Shrike fan art


Extra for Experts (spoilers):
  • Stalkers are sometimes referred to as 'Jaegers'
  • All Stalkers have green glowing eyes
  • Stalker tech can be used on animals such as birds and even whales
  • In some American versions of Mortal Engines Shrike is named 'Grike'.
  • Shrike is named after the bird of the same name.
  • Shrike is actually the narrator of the Mortal Engines books as discovered in the final paragraph of A Darkling Plain. 

Why Stephen Fry should play Professor Pennyroyal in the Mortal Engines sequel

stephen fry gosford park

If you take the Mortal Engines novel as a singular book, it is a grand adventure set literally on the tracks of giant traction citites.

It sets up a world of wonder and opened up a realm of possibilties for future story telling and the success of Mortal Engines led to Philip Reeve being able to write a sequel, Predator's Gold

That book, steps up the action, steps up the pain and steps up the comedy gold with the introduction of Professor Nimrod Pennyroyal. 

On paper, this character is a cliched sterotype that any seasonsed reader can see a mile off. Except Reeve managed to imbue Pennyroyal with such a nagging charm that the character feels wholly real. 

Pennyroyal is a player, a book writer who talls tall tales about his adventures around the world. He makes himself out to be the hero when he's a coward. He makes himself out to be a the man of the world and in a fake-it-till-you-make-it style of living, he's been painting the town red. 

So should the Mortal Engines film be hit a genuine hit and give rise to a sequel, it would seem only natural that the good Professor should have a role to play. 

But who could capture this fellow? 

Enter Stephen Fry. 

Stephen Fry is a marvel. A national treasure in the UK, he's a sucessful writer, actor and all round good guy

And he would be perfect. 

He's got the charm, the confidence and the talent to play the part.

Did you ever see Fry as the dectective in Gosford Park? He was brilliant as the dectective with an ego writing cheques he his ego could never cash. 

If Fry channelled those instincts into Pennyroyal, the character would come to life.

The beauty of this casting suggestion is that Fry has an existing working relationship with Peter Jackon. He featured in two Hobbit films and wrote the script for the as yet unrealised remake of The Dam Busters. 

Peter Jackson loves to surround himself with talent he's used before (see Hugo Weaving as Valentine and all the LOTR films) so if he's fond of a fry up, Stephen is his Professor.

As a fun aside, check out our April Fool's hoax involving Pennyroyal.

TV promo spots for Mortal Engines are so hot, 'they're playing with fire'


Several televisison spots have been released to promote Mortal Engines.

We lead with Valentine suggesting the kids are 'playing with fire'.



This second one features a line change where Hester has a turn:



This third one features Sir Peter Jackson waxing lyrical over the movie:



Personally we feel the marketing should focuss very heavily on Shrike as many punters are starting to see this as a boring old youth love story.


Actor Richard Mills says Mortal Engines is 'epic, vast and very cool'

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Wellington actor Richard Mills had a fair bit of time on the set of Mortal Engines as an extra.

Based on his post to the Mortal Engines is a work of genius Facebook group, it appears the cast and crew have had a screening just for them:

Mills said in a soundbite review: "I was lucky enough to see an advance screening of Mortal Engines today. It was epic, vast and very cool. It does not disappoint. See it in a good cinema, you'll be pleased you did!"

Looks like everything is coming up Milhouse!

Have you seen this woman?

Friday, November 16, 2018
hester shaw wanted poster

Looks like the city of London has an issue with Hester Shaw!

Poster supplied by the official Mortal Engines Facebook page when you take part in the game with the mysterious Antonia Critt.

Philip Reeve - 'The Illustrated World of Mortal Engines'

Wednesday, November 14, 2018
the illustrated world of mortal engines

As a tie-in of sorts to the Mortal Engines movie, author Philip Reeve has published 'The Illustrated World of Mortal Engines'.

This work is to a super-dooper rework of The Traction Codex which was published some years ago as an e-book with collaborator Jeremy Levett. Levett is back again for this more comprehensive exploration of the world of traction cities. 

Reeve said of the work:

"With the Mortal Engines movie looming, it seemed a good opportunity to revise and expand the old Mortal Engines Codex, which had a very patchy e-book release a few years ago.

Jeremy Levett knows far more about history and technology than I ever will, and he’s come up with an impressively plausible account of the centuries which separate the Fever Crumb books from the beginning of Mortal Engines, as well as lots of extra details about the cities, airships and characters who inhabit the books. 

There are glimpses of what the Traction era means for Australia, South America, and other bits of the world my stories never managed to encompass.

The book features the artwork of many well-known concept art designers including Ian McQue who recently redid all the covers for the original book series, David Wyatt and Amir Zand.

Jeremy Levett did an Ask Me Anything Session on Reddit about the guide.

it's important to note this work expands on the canon of the novels and does not necessarily tie into the movie version of the original book.

Here are some images from the book:

David Wyatt's version of Air Haven:

david whyatt airhaven concept art

Amir Zand's effort at a predator city:

amir zand predator city




The artwork above is some concept work that Ian did when he was inspired by the Mortal Engines book AND seemingly before he had a working relationship with Philip Reeve! I like how life works out!

Order your copy from Amazon now!

Moving Cities featurette reveals Magnus Chrome

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
magnus chrome mayor london

One month to go till the release of Mortal Engines and the featurettes are popping up like Pokemon.

Gotta catch 'em all so here's the Moving Cities featurette, with a first look at Magnus Chrome, the mayor of London.

Chrome is played by Patrick Malahide.



"Run it down!"

Anna Fang's 'in movie' wanted poster is from ... the movie

Saturday, November 10, 2018
If you've spied that the Mortal Engines marketing has tracked up a notch, you'd be right and you may have seen this shot of Palt's Yard Dairy which supplies the city of London with cheese derived from algae.

palt's yard dairy mortal engines


Check out the picture of the wanted picture of Anna Fang on the video screen on the top right. Anna Fang is a spy and leader in the Anti Traction League and if you've read Night Flights or the original novel, you'll know she's no friend of London.

So having a wanted video of Anna Fang all makes sense.

What makes little sense is that the shot of Anna appears to be from within the actual movie, not at a time in the past.

See, here's a movie shot of Anna as played by Jihae:

anna fang played by jihae mortal engines

It would seem a shot similar to this has been used by the production team for the Palt's Dairy warning sign - however, it's of Anna in 'movie real time' - presumably, the shot was supposed to be a warning for people prior to the events of the movie. Thus it's kind of an anachronism.

I could be wrong, Anna could stand around all day on London for pictures wearing the same coat with the collar in the same position against her neck, the same undergarment, and same glasses every time she visits London...

Or of course it could be a real time warning but where's the fun in that... we also know Anna often wears a red coat...

How the opening of the Mortal Engines film is basically the start of Star Wars

When I was a young lad my dad brought home a copy of a film called Star Wars.

I knew nothing about this movie and I had no idea what I was about to see.

As you probably know, the film famously starts with a chase. Darth Vader's Star Destroyer is chasing Princess Leia's Tantive IV in a bid to regain the plans to the Death Star.

It was amazing and left a lasting impression on myself and many a viewer due to the size of what was been shown - the ship was massive in comparison to the smaller ship.

I could not help notice how director Christian Rivers appears to have made an homage or reference to Stars Wars in the Mortal Engines trailer. We, of course, are assuming the trailer is the start of the movie, based on the first page of the book (and its famous first line)

Here's how the Star Wars opening plays out:






The trailer for Mortal Engines is also a chase, one that mirrors the iconic Star Wars start in that the traction city of Salthook is framed by itself, wheels blazing just like the lonely Tantive IV.

Then, the city of London, slowly but surely comes into screen, showing that the chase is on, consuming the entire screen, just as it wants to consume Salthook.








Sure there are some differences between the ME film trailer and the opening of Star Wars such as the two eyed Hester Shaw inter-cuts but the concept and referencing or homage is absolutely there!

Mortal Engines itself is no stranger to Star Wars - the character of Anna Fang was in part inspired by by Han Solo! 

New York and its portable liberty...

Monday, October 29, 2018
In the Mortal Engines novels, America is referred to as the Dead Continent, suggesting there was little there of interest.

But what if New York survived the Sixty Minute War?


This art reminicent of Mortal Engines was made by the talented Longque Chan.

Stephen Lang suggests Mortal Engines will be a trilogy rather than four films

Sunday, October 28, 2018
stephen lang actor from mortal engines

Peter Jackson and company have made it very clear they hope that with the launch of the Mortal Engines film they are creating a new franchise.

For this to occur, the film needs a big opening, so when online tickets open up, buy too eh?

We have wondered how the sequels would be approached. The last two books are arguably one great big story. And the last book could arguable be broken into two films.



So what's the deal?

Stephen Land, who's playing Shrike, seems to know.

Currently promoting his famed one man show called, Beyond Glory, Lang spoke briefly of the movie:

"This is a sci-fi film that’s created a unique world from four books by Philip Reeve that will be three movies."

So that's that, three movies is the intention.

I personal had wondered if they could skip Predator's Gold and go straight onto Infernal Devices but the reality is there is so much set up in Predator's Gold, they'd need to do most of it if the last arc of the story is to play out well.

Either way, that last film will need to be four hours long!

Truth is, if this thing turns out to be a juggernaught like Harry Potter, anything could happen.

David Wyatt's concept art from The Illustrated World of Mortal Engines

13th elevator airship concept art

Concept design of Mortal Engines by David Wyatt


You may have heard the Philip Reeve has released The Illustrated World of Mortal Engines as a tie-in to celebrate the release of the film. Written in conjunction with Jeremy Levett, the book features concept art by several artists such as Amir Zand and Ian McQue

Featured here though is the work of David Wyatt.

Wyatt has had a long relationship with Philip Reeve and Mortal Engines having designed a many of the book covers for reprints and the prequels. 

Above is his impression of Thaddues Valentine's airship, the 13th Elevator. 

And his impression of Airhaven feels delightfully orderly!

arhaven concept art by david wyatt

amazen david wyatt mortal engines

Finally a real treat from Fever Crumb, the Cloutie Tree

 Cloutie Tree fever crumb

This art is quite different from the movie's look and feel.

Fantastic Mortal Engines cosplay costumes

Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Hester Shaw costume cosplay from Mortal Engines book

Mortal Engines movie and book Cosplay Costumes


Let's face it, while Mortal Engines was a book, there wasn't much cosplay of the amazing characters that come from the book. There didn't seem to be too many Ana Fangs running around the Comic Conventions or monstrous Shrikes lurking in dark corridors.

That said, there was this pretty awesome version of Shrike which comes from a very cool short film.

Shrike Mortal Engines cosplay costume

Cosplay inspired by the Mortal Engines book and movie


But now that Mortal Engines is a movie and the characters have been visually brought to life, cosplayers now have something to focus and get into.

Everyone loves Hester Shaw cosplay! Check out this extreme facial scarring!

hester shaw face scar make up

Hester Shaw with an awesome scar across the face


scarrred hester shaw cosplay costume

Another fine Hester

hester shaw cosplay costume

Kids seem to love dressing up as Hester!

hester scar cosplay
 

Shrike cosplay 


While the great Stephen Lang plays Mr Shrike, this lasses' mum made a wonderful Shrike costume. Mum AKA Sarah, said that she made the costume for her daughter to celebrate World Book Day!  and that "This costume was bought with great pain, I can tell you."

shrike cosplay from Mortal Engines

Indeed, here's the building of the costume which the Sarah said "This #WorldBookDay costume is a complete bitch to make." Amused to see that bottle of Gorilla Glue!

making the shrike costume

This crazy theory about Peter Jackson stealing a whale...

Bear with me, I have a theory.

A crazy theory.

It's so crazy you should just skip this post.

The wife and I took the kids to the Te Papa Museum in Wellington and noticed that the blue whale that hangs from the ceiling was missing. I was a bit disappointed as it's really cool, even more, impressive than the colossal squid they have as an attraction.

And then I moved on.

Later as the kids were having fluffies, this concept art popped into my head:


And I was like to my wife "Peter Jackson has stolen the whale to use in Mortal Engines!" She looked at me like I was some kind of loon and handed out some crackers to the kids.

Here are the facts:

Peter Jackson and Christian Rivers made the Mortal Engines movie in Wellington.

They needed a whale skeleton for the museum scene in Mortal Engines.

The whale disappeared.

Read between the lines people!

THERE CAN BE NO OTHER PLAUSIBLE REASON FOR THE WHALE'S DISAPPEARANCE!

We note Te Papa refused to comment so this just confirms the conspiracy.

What is the MEDUSA weapon in Mortal Engines?

medusa being fired from London

BOOK AND FILM SPOILERS BELOW

What was that purple light in the Mortal Engines trailer?

It's MEDUSA.

In Mortal Engines, MEDUSA was the ancient Old-Tech super weapon that the Mayor of London city, Magnus Chrome tried to use to breach the Shield Wall.

Magnus intended to use the Medusa weapon against the Walk so that he could take London City through to the fertile hunting grounds beyond the wall.

But what exactly is the Medusa and how is it used?

Does it make you turn to stone if you look at it too long?

MEDUSA is a 'ground-based' weapon.

It is stated in the Mortal Engines novel as taking up the whole of the inside of St Paul's Cathedral, where the Guild of Engineers had rebuilt it under complete secrecy.

Philip Reeve described as having a huge, metallic hood shaped 'like a cobra's hood'. It fires a beam of energy (either sourced from outside the real universe, or the cities generators), resembling a "cat-o-nine-tails", at targets up to two hundred miles away.

The firing coordinates are input via a control panel at the base of the firing mechanism.

In Mortal Engines, the Medusa was never actually used as intended.

It was accidentally destroyed by Katherine Valentine who was mortally wounded during her noble attempt to sabotage it. She succeeded somewhat - the Medusa was unable to be fired by Magnus Chrome but it did over heat, blow up and destroy the city of London with it.

The resulting explosion killed most of the thousands of people living in the city, many of them innocent.

Medusa weapon concept art from Mortal Engines
A concept idea: The Engineers prepare Medusa for firing

So where did the Medusa weapon come from?


The weapon was originally deployed in America during the infamous Sixty Minute War, the one which turned planet Earth into a post-apocalyptic wasteland from which the traction cities eventually evolved from. This is not to say the Medusa was the only weapon used that caused the destruction. The satellite systems known as ODIN  also wreaked a fair amount of damage.

Many thousands of years after the great War, London secretly made archeological expeditions to the Dead Continent and gathered the pieces of Medusa from an old Brothal base and re-assembled it inside the St Paul's complex.

In a key plot point which echoed a generation,  Thaddeus Valentine (working for Magnus Chrome)  had years before the events of the book, sort to obtain the computer control system of the Medusa. A fabulously complex item of technology even by the standards of scientists from the pre-war era,

Valentine tracked it to being in the hands of Hester's parents, found them and killed them. During this horrible moment, he also scarred Hester with his sword, both physically and of course mentally.

So what is the plot of Mortal Engines in relation to Medusa?


Katherine Valentine spends most of the first part of Mortal Engines trying to figure out what MEDUSA is. Then, when the city of London is being chased by the city Panzerstadt-Bayreuth the roof of St Paul's Cathedral lifts up and destroys the predator city with a blast of pure energy from the weapon.

The successful use of the weapon serves as proof of concept to Magnus Chrome and it further adds to his resolve to breach the Shield Wall.

Magnus' plans are ultimately foiled when MEDUSA system overloads with energy and explodes, obliterating most of London with it.

Concept art of Medusa being opened above Saint Paul's Cathedral by Jaekyung Jaguar Lee. Medusa firing art design by Peter Yea.

Amir Zand's 'Ark' draft compared to final of Arkangel from Predator's Gold

Tuesday, October 23, 2018
amir zand mortal engines


Artist Amir Zand has revealed to the world that he has done some work for the “The Illustrated world of Mortal Engines” which is being released next month to coincide with the Mortal Engines film release.

Zand said "A fantastic project that I’m so proud to be a part of. such an amazing universe with amazing people.

I thought to share one of my early sketches that i’ve made for one of the Mortal Engine's illustration a few months back, the reason that i share this is because that piece didnt make the cut and the final Illustration changed so much, so I’ve changed this early conception in to a futuristic theme, ships going through an Ark, so basically its not ME anymore, cant wait to show you all the pieces that I've made for this awesome project".

Zand has now released what became the final version of Arkangel, his vision of the traction city from Predator's Gold:

arkangel concept art predators gold


Order The Illustrated World of Mortal Engines from Amazon.




The long and complicated relationship of Hester Shaw and Shrike

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

What is the relationship between Shrike and Hester Shaw?


Absolute book and film spoilers follow.

There are plenty of dysfunctional relationships in this world.

The Clintons.

Tom and Jerry.

Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn.

Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala.

Pineapple on pizza.

And then we have the relationship of Hester Shaw and Shrike.

Where do we start?

The beginning you say. But what is the beginning?

When we are introduced to Shrike in the Mortal Engines novel he is presented as Resurrected Man, a man turned into a robot killer using the technology of the ancients.

And he's been sent by Thaddeus Valentine and Magnus Chrome to kill Hester Shaw.

That's not a relationship, that's the Terminator chasing Sarah O'Conner kind of nightmare Hester is suddenly faced with.

But let's take a step back.

shrike mortal engines film


When Hester was about seven years old, Valentine attacked her parents, specifically her mother Pandora, in order to obtain MEDUSA. Suddenly she is orphaned and scarred for life both figuratively and literally.

As fate would have it, it was Shrike who found her post her escape from Valentine and this is where the long and complicated relationship begins.

Shrike was the one to continue to raise Hester. That's right, this cold, monstrous killing machine, thought to be completely dehumanized still had a heart.

In some kind of confused 'Tin Man following the Yellow Brick Road looking for a heart' concept, he cared for Hester while they lived on a traction town called Strole.

In later years, Hester leaves Shrike to begin her epic adventure to kill Thaddeus Valentine.

This depresses the dead guy somewhat as Hester is really the only thing in this world that he loves.

But why is this?

It's only briefly alluded to in the first novel but before he was turned into a Stalker, he was Kit Solent. This man, was the very loving father of two children. His tale was expanded on greatly in the first prequel novel, Fever Crumb.

The Shrike we meet in Mortal Engines has managed to contain some of his human essence, his paternal nature. Hester thus serves as his replacement family.

Things then get a bit more complicated.

Even though Shrike acts under orders from London to kill Hester, he wants to kill her ANY WAY so that he can turn her into a Stalker like himself so they can both live together happily for ever as a family.

Yes, you read that right.

This mentality culminates in a confrontation wherein Hester actually agrees to this plan so that Tom's life may be spared.

How does that turn your traction wheels?

Why Phillip Reeve disfigured Hester Shaw's face with a grotesque scar in the Mortal Engines book

Monday, October 15, 2018

Why Hester Shaw is deeply scarred in the Mortal Engines novel 


A little while ago I found a website called 'tall tales & short stories' and it featured an interview with Mortal Engines author Philip Reeve.

The article was six years old and the site is now defunct but I did copy Reeve's thoughts on Hester Shaw and her scar with the view to using it somehow one day. 

So here we go...

The interview reveals quite the insight into why Reeve did the role reversal that many books and film shy from i.e. making the female lead quite genuinely ugly.

Let me repeat that for you. Ugly, disfigured and NOT PRETTY.

Name a famous movie or book in the last 10 years where the main character is truly hideously ugly.

I'll wait.

If you found one, good on ya. Maybe Aileen Wuornos in Monster?

One example. Yippe Kay Aye.
hester shaw scar make up test
An artist's impression of Hester

Regardless, Hester Shaw is the clear fan favourite when it comes to the Mortal Engines series. While part of her might want to live a happy, healthy life, the Hyde to her Jackal is that she is a murderous wee thing with a hair trigger for some good old fashioned ultraviolence.

And she's a bad mother...

She has also bad typing skills.

There, I said it.
So with that in mind, here's what Reeve said of Hester's scar after this interview question:

The main female character, Hester, in the Mortal Engines series is facially disfigured which I find an interesting, but welcome, choice for a female lead.

Was this a conscious decision made at the outset of writing the first book or did it evolve along the way? And what prompted this decision? 


Reeve's answer:

Women warriors are a bit of a cliche in Science Fiction and Fantasy, and they tend to be very glamorous or at least good looking.

But it struck me that people who live by their wits in wastelands tend not to be that glamorous or good-looking, and who cares about beautiful people anyway?

So I decided right from the start to make Hester ugly, and I liked the idea that the hero would slowly fall in love with her anyway, which is far more interesting than having two gorgeous people seeing each other across a crowded room and falling in love.

Then it seemed to make sense to give Hester a scar, which she's received at the hands of the villain, so there's her initial motivation - revenge - right there on her face; she's like Captain Ahab with his missing leg!

sketch of hester shaw scar
But I didn't want it to be a little cosmetic scar - the Hollywood way of dealing with facial disfigurement is always to have somebody who's a bit messed up seen from one angle but is still gorgeous from most others.

So Hester's scar is really grotesque; I didn't want her to be pretty from any angle!

I think in the first book my idea was that actually, under this hideous exterior, she's lovely and sweet, but when I went back to write the sequel I thought that someone who had been through what she has, and looks as she does, probably wouldn't be sweet and well-adjusted, so she goes further and further off the rails as the series progresses, though I hope she remains sympathetic, and even attractive in a Ripley-ish way (Tom Ripley, that is, not Ellen*).

-

When the first trailer came out, we raised concerns that the trailer shows Hester with two eyes - but we now know that Reeve's honorable vision of a key female character been trumped by Hollywood's needs for beauty. It's actually stirred quite a few people up!

*As in Ellen Ripley from the Alien films. 

Phillip Reeve didn't believe it was Peter Jackson when he emailed to say Mortal Engines was finally happening!

phillip reeve peter jackson

Here's a great article with Phillip Reeve in Wired Magazine where Reeve reveals when he finally received contact from Peter Jackson confirming the movie was going ahead, he didn't believe it was really NZ's finest film maker!

Here's the tale:

Originally published in 2001, the film rights to Mortal Engines quickly started circulating the desks of Hollywood executives. Jackson eventually brought the option outright, though it would be over a decade after the book’s debut before the movie progressed any further. Then a year and a half ago Reeve received an email from the New Zealand director, announcing that production was underway.

“I was suspicious at first actually!” he says.

“Rumours about the project had slipped out a few years ago and from time to time people would pop up on Twitter asking me about whether Peter was adapting my book. Of course all I could say was ‘Oh I don’t suppose so’ and ‘you mustn’t believe everything you read on the internet haha’.

So when the email came through it occurred to me that maybe this wasn’t Peter at all but someone fishing for information."

The message was genuine and in May Reeve got the chance to watch some of the shoot in Wellington. The experience seemed unreal at times. "You’d see all these people going about creating these incredibly detailed sets and acting out something I’d made up in my head years ago. There was a scene I saw with a character called Anna Fang [played by South Korea-born singer Jihae]. She had this long red trench coat and jet black hair and was sitting in this rusty aviators bar; because everything else had all these muted earth tones the contrast made her really stand out. It was pretty much exactly how I’d originally pictured it, so when I saw it I thought, 'That’s me! I did that!’"

The aviator bar Reeves refers to is presumably the 'Gasbag and Gondola'.

There's plenty more in the article including Reeve's thoughts on ME's social commentary, and the revelation he has two alpacas!

I prefer the real Hester

Sunday, October 14, 2018
I prefer the real hester meme

With all the fans going crazy (right or wrong) over Hester's scar design in the movie, I thought I'd toss some petrol on to the fire...

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