Sunday, June 2, 2013

GORMENGHAST In POP CULTURE: THE CURE



Ooo! Mood night! 

For fans of both the book & movie GORMENGHAST, & of THE CURE:

Did you know THE CURE wrote their song ‘THE DROWNING MAN’ about LADY FUCHSIA?!
(Lyrics below). Some band members were fans of the book. I heard that leader Robert Smith said he cries when he reads it because he knows what happens to her.

Here's links to movie & book, if you're a curious Cure fan; or a swoony new fan of Dracula Jonathan Rhys Meyers- or generally want to see fantastic BBC character acting: go watch, & come back for videos & lyrics.

JRM is considerably skinnier here: he put on 25 lbs of muscle later when he got tired of being cast as teenagers. I'll stake anything that he had fun doing this one, though.




Also ‘ALL CATS ARE GREY’ by THE CURE
on the same album, also said to be inspired by Gormenghast- I'm guessing the lyrics speak for our sad, tragic villain Steerpike as he hides, trapped, below in the castle "amongst the stones" and the flood. (Lyrics later.)

THE DROWNING MAN, Storyline:  

Is this song about suicide? Not necessarily. Our beloved Fuchsia in the book seems to decide against suicide- then ironically dies by accident: perched on the windowsill (not intending to jump), Fuchsia “starting at the violent sound” of a knock at the door, falls into the floodwater. The author mercifully has her knocked unconscious first.



In the film it was suicide; yet the book- the accident- feels more tragic. Maybe because in the book Fuchsia dies unloved, Steerpike's victim; whereas in the film Steerpike might possibly love her, which sweetens it. It even gives her death a silver lining: now she doesn't have to be with the scoundrel! 

So the film turned a completely evil villain into an ambiguous one. That seems like an enormous improvement- we moderns don't like black and white characters. However, the book has its own style of ambiguity that is maybe even better: when Steerpike is not ambiguous, the reader feels ambiguous. An evil Steerpike is so lonely and stunted, that we should hate him but are surprised to find ourselves unexpectedly loving him. Maybe an ambiguous reader is far more splendid than an ambiguous villain?

In his songs, Robert Smith is only concerned with the book: and only in the book are the characters thoroughly tragic. Hence these gorgeous poem-songs, with their evocative despair.

In the last verse the singer calls out to Fuchsia. Many lines come directly from the novel. Smith's amazing lyrics are as beautiful on the page as they are spoken, or sung.

Here are the lyrics of The Drowning Man alongside the Gormenghast text for comparison.


source: sexyeyemakeup.tumblr

THE DROWNING MAN- LYRICS  The Cure, album ‘Faith’ 1981

She stands twelve feet above the flood
She stares
Alone
Across the water
—————-
The loneliness grows and slowly 
Fills her frozen body
Sliding downwards
—————-
One by one her senses die 
The memories fade 
And leave her eyes
Still seeing worlds that never were
And one by one the bright birds leave her …
—————
Starting at the violent sound
She tries to turn
But final
Noiseless
Slips and strikes her soft dark head
The water bows
Receives her
And drowns her at its ease
Drowns her at its ease
—————-
I would have left the world all bleeding
Could I only help you love
The fleeting shapes
So many years ago
So young and beautiful and brave
——————
Everything was true
It couldn’t be a story
———————
I wish it was all true
I wish it couldn’t be a story
The words all left me
Lifeless
Hoping
Breathing like the drowning man
——————
Oh Fuchsia
You leave me
Breathing like the drowning man
Breathing like the drowning man
———————————————————————————————————

Steepike's song, hiding out "amongst the stones" in the flood?

ALL CATS ARE GREY- LYRICS

I never thought that I would find myself 
In bed amongst the stones 
The columns are all men 
Begging to crush me 
No shapes sail on the dark deep lakes 
————————-
And no flags wave me home 
In the caves 
All cats are gray 
In the caves 
The textures coat my skin 
In the death cell 
A single note 
Rings on and on and on

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