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...

The Mortal Engines film crew

Found on the Instagrams, this is an on-set photo of the Mortal Engines film crew. Taken I think at Stone Street Studios in Wellington, NZ.


You can see PJ in the front and Christian Rivers is across two over on the right.

Stone Street Studios recently posted this picture to their Facebook page - note the whiteboard to the right making reference to Thaddeus and Katherine Valentine...

mortal engines costumers

And we found the note of thanks from Christian and the producers to the film crew when filming wrapped:


For those so curious, the word Arohanui is Maori for 'a lot of love'.

↠ What is the best order to read the Mortal Engines series of novels?

Saturday, October 13, 2018

What Star Wars film did you see first?

Was it The Phantom Menace or A New Hope? Did you follow the order they were released?

For the many it was Star Wars IV, V and IV in that order and then years later the prequels came out and we learned how Anakin became Darth Vader.

If you watch the prequels first you miss out on the epic twist that happens in Empire Strikes Back when you learn of Luke's true parentage.

And that's the issue with the reading order of the 7 Mortal Engine novels (8 counting the Anna Fang short stories book!).

We are talking about Stalker Shrike here and a couple of other plot point surprises.

If you read the prequel series you get the full story of Shrike and how he came to be the Shrike. As you read on to the original novels, there's no big mystery, no awe as you first encounter him with Tom, knives out wanting to do nothing but kill....HESTEERRR SHAWWWWW!

But if you've read the prequels, you know exactly who this abomination is before he even takes his first step towards Tom and that kind of ruins the mystique.

Think of the first time you saw the Star Wars scene when Vader boards the Tantive IV (Leia's ship). If you knew him as the whiny pod racing kid from The Phantom Menace, the effect of his entrance would not have been the same.

But, just as there is with Star Wars, there's a kind of cheat you can do which is similar to the popular Machete Order that some Star War fans recommend.

In terms of Star Wars, it's often suggested that you watch A New Hope and then Empire so that you can enjoy the twist. You can then read the prequels and get the full back story, and then hop back to Return of the Jedi and go from there.

And so you can with Mortal Engines.

Read that first novel first so that you get the main story, exposure to the concepts such as Municipal Darwinism and that you meet the Shrike.

You can then turn the pages of the prequels starting with Reeve's Fever Crumb and then on to A Web of Air and the most excellent Scrivener's Moon.

Once you've knocked those bastards off, you can read the three books that follow Mortal Engines. And they are damn good reads with A Darkling Plain proving an excellent and satisfying end to the saga.

But what do we know?

What is Philip Reeve's take on the reading order of his own novels?

He's actually been asked this before and he's on record as saying:

"It’s up to you, of course, but I’ve always thought they’re best read in the order they were written."

And despite what we have suggested, that's not a bad way to go.

Here's why.

The thing about Peter Reeve is he became a better author as he went on with the Mortal Engines series. As he progressed from one book to the next his stories seemed to flow better and form a more cognizant whole. I personally enjoyed the last two novels more when compared to the first. That said, those novels were 'standing on the shoulders of giants'.

But Reeve's also gives a hint of caution about the prequels:

"It’s a different setting in many ways – there are, for instance, no airships and no mobile cities.

I think the books have a slightly different tone, too – the heroes of the Mortal Engines quartet are always zooming across continents and oceans, but Fever Crumb’s adventures all take place in London or in the island city of Mayda, until Scrivener’s Moon, when Municipal Darwinism finally begins to take off and there is a certain amount of charging about on ramshackle motorised fortresses."

The choice, dear reader, is clearly yours. But when you've done that, it's time to move on to Railhead...

One perfect shot:

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A shot of Hester Shaw and her new boyfriend from the latest Mortal Engines trailer. Looks like the film will be worth it for the visual effects alone.

If you've read the books, this really captures so much of the 'feel' of them.

Any one smell an Oscar coming on for the Visual Effects team?

Nick Keller's Mortal Engines concept art designs

13th floor elevator concept art mortal engines

Concept art and design for the Mortal Engines film


Philip Reeve wrote the novel but it took a team of Kiwis to bring it to life for the silver screen. This featurette highlights the work that concept art Nick Keller of Weta Workshop, Wellington put into the design of Mortal Engines.

Is Nick the new Doug Chiang?

He's paid his dues having taken a turn at digital design for The Chronicles of Narnia’, ‘Under the Mountain’, ‘Avatar’, ‘Indiana Jones 4’, and ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy.

The design above is the '13th Floor Elevator' which is the ship of Historian and explorer, Thadeus Valentine. He's the protagonist of the film.

Have a look at some of Keller's featured work starting with the cockpit of the 13th Floor Elevator:

Cockpit of the 13th Floor Elevator art

 Traction City Tracks: Can you spy Hester and Tom?

hester and tom in london tracks concept art

You know how this turned out in the actual film:

hester tom london tracks

The Lions of London will eat you for lunch:

london lions mortal engines

nick keller design artist weta workshop

mortal engines concept design airhaven

Here's Airhaven:

airhaven concept art mortal engines


hester shaw london concept art picture


If you want to see more of Nick Keller's work, check out his site.  Great to see the Mortal Engines crew (New Zealanders at that!) getting some broad exposure as a result of their hard work.

Now, if we could only see some drawings of Skrike....

What is the meaning of the "Mortal Engines" movie title?

Saturday, October 6, 2018

What is the meaning of 'Mortal Engines' title and its Shakespeare reference?


The title of the book by Philip Reeve and movie produced by Peter Jackson is a quotation borrowed from William Shakespeare's 'Othello'.

Yes, Philip Reeve is referencing the Great Bard himself.

The full quote from Act III, scene iii is said by Othello himself:

"And O you mortal engines whose rude throats / Th'immortal Jove's dread clamors counterfeit..."

For Mortal Engines, there's a double play in meaning.

Reeve uses the phrase as a commentary on the book's concept of 'Municipal Darwinism'.

Municipal Darwinism is the technological ecosystem by which most of the world of Mortal Engines works.

The larger predator cities consume smaller cities for their resources. Physical resources are used for fuel or re-utilised. Humans living on the captured cities can be enslaved or eaten.

It's basically a play on Charles Darwin's survival of the fittest concept from his natural selection theory.

The main theory of Municipal Darwinism is a predator and prey cycle; if the bigger town is faster than the smaller, the smaller town will be eaten.

But if the smaller town is faster than the bigger town, the bigger town risks running out of fuel and thus losing it's prey or even facing attack itself in a reversal of fortune.

While in the context of the book's universe this form of Darwinism has existed for 1000s of years since the 'Sixty Minute war', it's a zero sum game which refers to the fact that the society that engages of Municipal Darwinism is not actually a sustainable means of living.

All the cities' engines are indeed mortal as eventually there will be nothing left to consume and they will fail and die.

Readers familiar with Reeve's work will know that he's a bit of a literary magpie and nicks the odd line from a song here and there or a book or line from a classic play to liven up his books. He does it really well - so well we suspect that a lot of the younger readers he has will miss many things he does!

Shakespeare's words are of course is referring to humans as being mortal engines and the book also covers this perspective - consider Shrike. He's hundreds of years old is arguably more machine than man, an 'emotionless' engine. Is he mortal or immortal?

Extra for Experts:

How Mortal Engines fared at NY Comic Con

hera-tom-robbie-christian-leila


What a day featuring some of the cast and crew of Mortal Engines at New York Comic Con!


We and a few other fans have rumbled about how light on promotional activity there has been for the Christian Rivers directed film produced by Peter Jackson and finally, the dial has been turned close to 11.

Today we had the panel and we saw and learned a lot about the movie. In fact, those present got to watch the first 25 minutes! This seems unprecedented, as often it's only the first 5 -  8 minutes are shown, if at all.



First up, we got the trailer! #ShrikewillStrike! As expected the film will place a large amount of focus on the back story of Hester Shaw and Thaddeus Valentine and what drives Hester so much 

We finally had the character of Shrike revealed to us, and crikey the wait was worth it. After months of teases from actor Stephen Land, here's Shrike in all his
hideous glory:



stephen lang shrike

The 60 Minute War is discussed.

Producer Peter Jackson said:

 “It’s set about 3000 years from now, so it’s in our future,” said Jackson. “And what I like to think of it is it’s not post-apocalyptic, but it’s post-post apocalyptic. … [The war] redefined the map of the world, and many, many centuries passed, which was a pretty nasty time, and civilization eventually rebuilds itself. … And they wind up on these wheels, chasing each other. There are no more countries anymore, there are no more borders.”


Director Christian Rivers said:

 "First of all, it’s an amazing book,” Rives said. “It’s sort of the beginning of their relationship and this journey in this unique world. Mortal Engines itself…it’s about Hester Shaw, who’s a fierce outcast in our world, and she’s sort of driven by the memory of her murdered mother…She glides with Tom Matsworthy, who’s a charming young man, who has a story and lives on London…They go on this great adventure and find a bond together…She has the key to stopping London which is on the verge of becoming an unstoppable dangerous force which is going to destroy the world!”

Hester Shaw (or how I learnt to love her without a grotesque scar)


Spoilers about the film and book below.

Many ME fans speculated that Hester Shaw would not have her horrific scar in the Mortal Engines movie.


When the first trailer came out, we were nervous as even though Hester had a red scarf covering her face and she had two eyes (also why does she have a red scarf before he meets Tom? He gave it to her ...)

Many fans thought it was a key thing about the character, indeed it kind of turned a cliche about the heroine always being quite pretty on its head. 

Turns out, Hester's scar 'tis just but a scratch' compared to how it's described in the novel.

Author Philip Reeve who created the character was quite clear on her scarification when he said:

"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!"

Hester Shaw became quite the iconic if not a cult figure for those that love the Mortal Engines series. 

I love her for the simple reason she killed a man with a typewriter in Infernal Devices. 

But, there's money to be made with a Peter Jackson produced Mortal Engines movie, and you can't sell a big Hollywood film with an ugly woman. 

You apparently just can't even though Charlize Theron won an Oscar for playing an ugly serial killer in Monster. 

So enter Hera Hilmar, an apparently lovely lass and an actress deemed worthy of playing Hester Shaw (no mention on Twitter about her typewriting skills though).

So Christian Rivers and PJ have sat down and gone, we can't make bank with our lead looking like Aileen Wournous, we need some eye candy aye? So what if we toned down that scar? 

And the producers started laughing all the way to their bank. 


And the fan boys and fan girls went, 'you gone fucked up PJ' (literally, I saw that on twitter somewhere).

Sure I've tweeted some of that sentiment and wondered about what could have been but then I was sitting down with a nice hoppy beer after emptying the dishwasher, folding some towels and I thought, why does a scar really matter?

I mean really?

Hester has a million reasons to hate herself, a scar is but one.

If the idea of Hester's character is that she is 'broken' then it doesn't matter how she looks, what matters is how the movie sets up how she feels. I think I 'd be pretty pissed if my parents had both been murdered and I then had to spend my formative years being raised by a kind of zombie robot called Shrike that used to be a man who has hands for knives. 

That's reason enough to be the unhappy, moody and even murderous Hester Shaw. 

Surely?

So, this Mortal Engines fan has to get with the program and simply accept that Hester will not have a grotesque scar in the film. 

And you know what? I'm going to guess that Mortal Engines has sold say 400,000 copies. I really have no idea. 

Let's say 10,000 of those readers REALLY CARE about the scar. 

OK?

Those 10,000 are going to bitch and moan like those Star Wars fans did about The Last Jedi. No matter what. 

But if Peter Jackson and Christen Rivers want to make 500 million bank on this film, they gotta get bums on seats and those bums will not have read the book, they will not care about a scar they never knew existed and they will simply enjoy a film where the city of London runs around trying to eat other cities. 

So no scar for you, just a bad ass Anna Fang.

So, let's just hope Hester has a really good bitchy resting face...

↠ What Hester Shaw having two eyes means for the Mortal Engines film


Spoilers about the book follow in this piece on the eyes of Hester Shaw.

hesters face in mortal engines

There was one thing that surprised us with the release of the Mortal Engines trailer


It was not the majesty of London towering over little Salthook.

It was not the giant hooks fired into the sky.

It was not the time on the clock being before midday (and thus incorrect according to the book).

It was that Hester Shaw appeared to have two eyes!

Readers of the book by Philip Reeve will know that Hester is a hideously scarred young girl with only one eye. A wee spoiler here to explain - a main character in the film sliced her face open with a sword when she was a young child and she lost her eye as a result.

She's supposed to be ugly to look at. The trauma of what happened to her is both inward and outward.

Bad things happened to Hester.

Hester looks bad.

And this HEAVILY affects her character's psyche.

The author has explained his intent behind this quite well.

artists concept of hester shaw
An artist's interpretation of book Hester Shaw's scar
So will the Big Hollywood Movie Version of Hester Shaw have any influence on the character?

Well, first up we (me) have to get over ourselves and remember two things.

This aint Shakespeare (even though the name of the book was inspired by Othello) and it's a big production Hollywood movie which means the books are merely a guide for the Peter Jackson produced and Christian Rivers directed spectacle to follow.

So the trailer for Mortal Engines thus introduced us to Hester with two, healthy looking eyes.

What of it?

Well, Hester is also quote famous for wearing a red scarf to hide her disfigurement and quess what is covering half of Hester's face?

That's right, we are not shown the lower half of her visage. Perhaps underneath it, there's a missing nose? A hack out cheek with teeth showing through? A deliciously hideous scar?

It might be that due to Hollywood's need to cash in, the lead actress needs to be pretty still.

This is not Monster staring a Hollywood beauty as Eileen Wuornos. No, this is a relatively unknown actress in a huge role on which Peter Jackson's investor millions rest.

The question really is, will Hester still be a vicious little cobra, a cacodemon of utter rage and resolve? 

Part of the book character's lure is that she is the anti-hero of the tale, single minded in her mission for revenge and has trouble making friends. Let's hope that's retain as much as possible.

So, Hester will be pretty and that's that.

Right?

There's a wee chance all is not as it seems.

In the book, Hester doesn't get her red scarf until AFTER she has met Tom (he gets her one). The trailer is the opening scene of the book - which means at that point Hester has not met Tom and thus she has no red scarf.

Of course, with movie to book happening, anything can happen.

So it could be there's a bit of a fake out happening.

Maybe Hester's scar will be added later one audiences have been drawn in. It wouldn't be the first time that something was in a trailer but not the final film - look at the last three Star Wars movies - plenty of change ups happened to the point Rogue One hardly looks like it's own trailer!

Now, what do think of my contention that the trailer of Mortal Engines was basically the start of Star Wars: A New Hope?

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