Sequart/Respect, out July 8 https://vimeo.com/ondemand/neilgaiman
The life of one of today’s most prestigious writers…
You might think that someone who explains that he will have to announce when his final signing tour will be (rather than state that he’s already done it), because it would be unfair to his audience, is going to be bigheaded and full of themselves. And I’m quite sure there are plenty within the industry to whom that applies.
It doesn’t apply to Neil Gaiman, who comes across in this 73 minute documentary every bit as conflicted, embarrassed, proud and shy – in other words, every bit as human – as the characters about whom he writes. I’ve seen actors at conventions do the whole false modesty bit (“you can’t really be interested in little old me”, type of thing, usually shortly before they rip someone a new hole for selling the wrong photo that might put them in an unflattering light), but I’ve seen Gaiman introduce himself in the way we see in the film, almost as if he’s surprised that people could possibly recognise him. (Stories of his shyness initially about public appearances are no surprise.)
The documentary uses the last signing tour as a framework on which to hang a biography, with Gaiman returning to some of his old haunts, accompanied by pictures (some freshly animated) from across his career. Those with whom he’s worked have plenty to say – apparently the best people to have sex with are those who know Gaiman’s work – and there are glimpses of the different sides of the man, the man whom the fans love (the one who notices a girl who desperately needs a hug at a signing), and the professional keen to get his stories told. Because, as anecdote after anecdote in this prove, that’s who and what Neil Gaiman is: he’s the storyteller round the camp fire for the modern age.
Like all such pieces, it’s a snapshot in many ways: Gaiman’s life has changed in the time since the filming of this was completed not least because he’s become a father again, but I suspect that as a portrait of a “work in progress” and an insight into the man, it’s going to be very hard to beat.
Verdict: An insightful piece on a fascinating man. 9/10
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