Netflix’s ‘The Sandman’ Recreates Neil Gaiman’s World in His Own Image

To be completely honest, I was expecting the one on Netflix. The Sandman be as uninspired as its trailers and promotional stills did. He expected a series of few ups and downs; a harmless, intermediate production, born of corporate groupthink. Naturally, as a long-time fan of the comic series being adapted, he feared and looked forward to this. He wanted to see how bad it would be, how much “they didn’t get it.” And so, naturally, I counted down the days until August 5. Naturally, I plugged my laptop into my TV screen at 11 a.m. on that fated day, not caring about the 12,000-word dissertation I have to deliver in a week.

I turned on the first episode, “The Dream of the Righteous,” and a quarter of the way through I found myself stomping, turning up the volume, creeping closer to the TV. I didn’t even realize I was liking it. I was making notes in my head of what they were changing, what they were already doing wrong. It didn’t occur to me that I was fucking hooked, not until I rushed to load the next episode.

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Now, let’s take one step at a time. “The Dream of the Just” adapts the first issue of the first volume of The Sandmanknown as Preludes and Nocturnes (1989). Here, we are introduced to Charles Dance’s Roderick Burgess, an aging sorcerer who hopes to cast and imprison Death. He succeeds, though not quite. Burgess instead captures Dream (brought to life by a perfectly chosen Tom Sturridge) and keeps the lord of dreams and nightmares trapped in his basement. This causes a worldwide epidemic of “sleeping sickness” (which actually happened) and many more consequences that we will soon find out. Dream is trapped here for 106 years, but the world he returns to is a far cry from the one he left. Dream has also lost possession of his helmet, sandbag, and ruby, without which he grows weaker by the day. The episodes that follow are his efforts to retrieve these totems and reclaim his throne in the Dreaming. That is, this is the story contained within Preludes and Nocturnes. The Netflix show, however, makes the odd decision to tie the narrative arc of the first volume with that of the second. the doll house (1990).

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the doll house, which was the best-selling volume at the time of release, follows an entirely different story, with Dream playing more of a supporting role. The cast of characters changes greatly (which they do every Sandman volume), as well as the theme and even the genre. In the adaptation, the show hastily forges the two together, with the horror undertones of preludes dissipating. Instead, though, there’s a unifying sense of fast-paced fun and procedural adventure throughout the season. In fact, the closest thing the show seems to get in spirit is the Harry Potter series of films, not just in mood and visuals, but also in music, with John Williams-tinged orchestral tracks bouncing in and out. This is not surprising since in 2013, the then president of DC Entertainment, Diane Nelson, estimated the potential of The Sandman to be “as rich as the Harry Potter universe”.

from netflix Sandman It’s apparently catering to a wider audience, and this might upset some longtime fans. Gaiman’s comic employed very famously harsh themes and graphic content, which feel sanitized on its live-action counterpart, even in the episode “24/7”, a highlight of the season, which shows a great deal of violence and shock, but nonetheless falls short of the sheer brute force of the packed comic book.

Also, the TV show sometimes seems generic. In the comics, there would be different artists drawing the story every few issues, and Dream’s own changing appearance is one of the story’s staple visuals. Here, we have Sturridge’s Dream looking more human than the actual larger-than-life figures he was modeled after, in Robert Smith and Farukh Ruzimatov. The stage designs also feel bereft of a truly distinctive touch. The story demands a drawing of the world in the style of Tim Burton, avoiding realism, which unfortunately we do not understand.

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For longtime fans, really, I can see some raised eyebrows and suspicious looks. But even though I share the feelings, maybe it’s better to judge the new Sandman on its own merits. I can’t fully fault a TV show for not being like something else, especially when that wasn’t even on their agenda. What we do have is an exciting, charming, and flawed season of supernatural drama. if you didn’t read The Sandmanclock The Sandman. if you read The Sandmandon’t expect the same magic as in the pages.

Mehrul Bari S Chowdhury He is a writer, poet and artist. He is currently pursuing an MA in creative writing at the University of Kent and previously worked for Daily Star Books.

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