It was the nineties when for the first time there was talk of a film about T di Neil Gayman.
At the time Gaiman was still working on the comics and felt the time was not right. He knew a movie would be a distraction and so he did one of the rarest things that can happen in Hollywood.
In the office of Lisa Henson, then executive producer of Warner Bros, he explicitly asked that the idea be abandoned, at least for the moment. The reaction was, as is easy to imagine, one of pure surprise.
LH: "No one has ever come to my office before asking me not to make a movie. "
NG: "Well, I do. Please don't. I'm still working on the comics and a movie would just be a distraction and lead to confusion. Let me do it my way. "
This is the exchange of words. Evidently someone listened to, and understood, the words of Gaiman and the project was shelved.
Almost twenty years passed before Gaiman spoke again of a possible transposition from the comic to the big screen of T. She did it to the San Diego Comicon in 2007. There he admitted that he did not want to compromise his vision just for the opportunity to see a film based on his work.
I'd rather never see a Sandman movie than see a bad Sandman movie. I feel the time is near. We need someone who has the same obsession with the original work as Peter Jackson has with The Lord of the Rings or Sam Raimi with Spiderman.
Neil Gaiman at Mania Entertainment
In the fifteen years that separate this moment from the Netflix series, WB has never abandoned the desire to make something based on the work of Gaiman. Many names have come and gone, like Eric Kripke (Supernatural). James Mangold (Logan) even did a pitch for HBO, but that didn't bear any fruit ...
Goyer and Gaiman's project begins to take shape in 2014. At the end of such a long journey, it is Netflix that wins the opportunity to show the world T on its platform. The series debuts in August 2022.
From comics to TV series
After such a long wait and with a huge crowd of very demanding fans behind it, the adaptation of T it could not be left to chance. Neil Gaiman was involved as an executive producer and writer on the first episode only. He was thus able to supervise every single part of the realization. His experience, his knowledge and love for the original work have been made available to others. Every detail has been studied at the table. Changes were made, this was inevitable. Therefore, criticisms without any basis have arisen. However, the weapons of keyboard critics have been blunted. The care of the work done and the choice of the cast, have checked the weapons of the keyboard critics even before starting.
The Sandman: The cast
One of the most difficult roles to assign was undoubtedly that of the crow Matthew. How to give a voice to a dead man who now lives in the realm of dreams? How to make the character who is fundamental for Morpheus' emotional and moral growth interesting, to magnetize the attention of the public? Simple, thanks to the voice of Patton Oswalt (Happy in Happy!, Remy in Ratatouille, Pip the Troll in Eternals, etc.).
Anyone who has seen the series in the original language knows why this was Neil Gaiman's first choice and understands how right the author was.
to Tom sturridge is a different Morpheus from the character known in the pages of T. Distant and cold. Too proud for his own sake of him. Easy to anger also and above all against those who are close to him and who have at heart the well-being of him and of his kingdom. But this Morpheus is also ready to learn from his mistakes. He is not human and shouldn't behave like one. His moral is distant and, at times, incomprehensible, but he is willing to learn.
Learn from Johanna Constantine, interpreted by Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who), that sometimes showing pity is not a sign of weakness but of real power. According to increasingly persistent rumors, Coleman's interpretation will be worth her a spin off on this new version of the occult detective. With all due respect to all those who have criticized this genderswap without stopping to think that there could also be the problem of rights. A missed opportunity to shut up ...
ALSO READ: THE SANDMAN - AUDIBLE
Gaiman wanted to make the series even more inclusive than the comic was. Which in turn was already a forerunner of the times.
This will led to the choice of Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones) as Lucifer Morningstar. Statuary and ethereal at the same time, this Junoesque, and non-canonical, beauty made Lucifer what many wanted to see.
In the past the most beautiful and wise angel. The Lightbringer who dared to rebel against God, refusing to love the human race more than his own father. Lucifer has no sex and this makes the character free to any interpretation.
Gaiman dared. He bet and he won!
It is thanks to his decisions that we were able to fully enjoy the epic clash between Morpheus and Lucifer.
Objects are subtle traps. We become dependent on them, and when they are gone, we are vulnerable, weak and defenseless.
This says Lucifer to Morpheus during the fourth episode (A Hope in Hell) after having descended into Hell in order to recover the second symbol of his power. For the first time, on screen, the viewer sees Morpheus in a new light. It is not the omnipotent creature that Burgess believes he has trapped, but a frightened being, blocked by the actions of his past and unable to evolve. Right now he truly believes that the outward symbols of his power in him are all he needs to be strong again. He doesn't realize that objects are just an offshoot of him. He created them, but now they control it.
If a first step towards change is made thanks to a mortal, the second takes place thanks to the words of a fallen angel. The third step takes place with the rediscovery of a deep family bond and the meeting with an old friend to whom we owe an apology.
Death (Kirby Howell-Baprtiste), in the guise of an older sister who is really worried about what happened, reminds him of the role they all play. However powerful they may be as manifestations of their functions, however frightening and delightful their realms may be, they are in the service of humans, not the other way around. When Morpheus is stagnant, blocked by the knowledge that his much-desired revenge has not brought him the peace he hoped for, these words give new life to his mission.
The meeting with Hob Gadling (Ferdinand Kingsley) puts the protagonist in the position of having to accept, with hesitation, that in over six hundred years of knowledge, the relationship between the Lord of Dreams and the human who does not want to die has turned into friendship. Morpheus must apologize for the first time. An important exercise considering how it also behaves with Lucienne (Vivienne Acheampong), the librarian of the kingdom who tried to take care of everything during the long years of her absence. These will be the hardest excuses to offer. In fact, there is nothing more difficult for someone so proud than admitting that they are wrong and need help.
Yes, that's right, Lucienne in the comics was Lucien. Comic book fans have nothing to complain about this change. Lucienne is in all respects what her male counterpart was to Morpheus. She was a friend, in the truest sense of the word, even when Morpheus didn't know he needed her. A subordinate who was tasked with making the best of him when the Lord of Dreams was trapped. She especially she has never been afraid to put Morpheus in front of his mistakes and his shortcomings both as a man and as a ruler.
For those who have approached T for the first time the judgment was unanimous. Vivienne did wonders for the character who became a fan favorite.
Perhaps even more difficult than choosing the right person to play a raven speaking, judging, is finding someone who is able to bring the physical representation of a place to the screen. What to do then?
Simple, it offers the part of Fiddler's Green / Gilbert a Stephen Fry (Wilde, Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes: a game of shadows) and you leave the viewer to see with your own eyes how a beautiful and peaceful place, a pillar of the World of Dreams can turn into a man who just wants to find out what it means to be human after centuries passed to offer shelter to those who after death have the possibility to spend eternity in the kingdom of Morpheus.
With such a cast it's no surprise that the final product is top notch, but that's not all. The cast covers an important part of the success of an adaptation, but there is no story without conflict and there is no conflict without an obstacle.
Why does the series work? The antagonists by The Sandman
A man judges himself by his enemies no less than by his friends.Joseph conrad
Neil Gaiman is not only a world builder, he is also and above all one storyteller. He knows how to narrate, he has taught courses on how to write and to write you have to know the narrative structure like the back of your hand. Only with these characteristics it is possible to create characters able to bewitch and conquer the reader, even the most demanding one.
It's no surprise, then, that it has created some of the best antagonists that have recently seen each other on the small and big screen.
Emblematic feature is that not all antagonists are villains. Even if they are always figures (or external forces) who oppose the protagonist or stand between him and his target. In T we meet at least four. No, Lucifer is not an antagonist, at least not yet. Everything suggests that he will become one in a possible second season, which has not yet been announced.
John Dee - The Sandman
John Dee deserves first place in this category. He plays it extraordinary David thewlis (Professor Lupine from Harry Potter) which gives the character that devastating humanity lost in the course of life. Unlike the comic, where the Doctor Doom he is a monster that has almost nothing human, not even his body, here he does not abuse CGI or prosthetic make-up. The rendering of the character is left to the skill of the actor and the result breaks the heart. In fact, there is no need for makeup to make it monstrous. What is scarier than an ordinary man who falls prey to madness?
We witness a sadistic murderer who plays with human minds, transforming dreams into nightmares thanks to the Morpheus ruby. After all, he has had the opportunity to manipulate it so that it responds to his desires and not to those of the one who created him. But now that he's gone mad, John Dee shows himself for what he really is: a victim.
He was oppressed by the lies of his mother who went out of her way to protect him from his biological father. But that she inevitably exposed him to Morpheus' possible revenge. He is dominated by a jewel that makes his wishes come true, but which was not created to be used by humans. Victim of the society that exposes him, never recognized son of a single mother, in the presence of stepfathers of various kinds, never kind to him.
He never had a chance one in this reality. So he decided to create his own, where being is finally recognized and admired, even revered as a God. He even comes to believe that he can annihilate Morpheus and the World of Dreams, so that he can take their place and reign over a pile of rubble. Because this alone knows, nothing but destruction and misery.
He destroys the ruby believing he can kill Morpheus, but thinks like a man, and his opponent is not. He releases the power of Morpheus from the cage he created without even realizing it and now the Lord of Dreams is more powerful than ever.
Morpheus has the ability to nullify the descendant of those who imprisoned and robbed him. But John has already suffered enough, so Morpheus does nothing but give him something that belongs to the human race but that he had lost; the sleep.
The newfound strength, as well as the understanding of his role, lead Morpheus to clash with The Corinthian, interpreted by Boyd holbrook (Narcos) a nightmare he created that for over a hundred years he killed in the real world, creating around his name a cult of serial killers who, inspired by his deeds, believed they could shape the world according to their vision.
In second place we find The Corinthian, one of Morpheus' greatest failures. A nightmare created to serve humans and show them the strength that too often they do not know they have, but which becomes an instrument of destruction because it has no other way to savor the humanity that kills.
It puts its creator in front of his flaws and his pride. He shows him the thousand ways in which he has disappointed the humanity he claims to serve. It forces him to deal with everything his pride would like to ignore. It becomes the main opponent because it is fundamental for Morpheus' growth and change. If he continued to stagnate, crystallized on his positions, ignoring how things inevitably changed during his captivity, Dreaming and himself would face destruction. He represents the final push towards change. Thanks to him Morpheus becomes a creator who must destroy his creature. A ruler who must punish an unfaithful subject. A father who must sacrifice his son for the good of all. Morpheus finally becomes himself in every facet only thanks to the brutal shock he receives from this rebellious son who does not recognize his authority. After this parallel it is not surprising that Lucifer wants to destroy him, given the many similarities between him and God.
Family problems in The Sandman but not only
The worst betrayal always comes from those closest to us. This Morpheus realizes it when it is almost too late, when a mere human sacrifices her life to save her granddaughter.
The last (antagonist) but not least è Wish, Morpheus's younger brother. Perhaps the creature that hates him most of all. Interpreted by Mason Alexander Park (Cowboy Bebop) looks ripped from the pages of the comic and offered up for television adaptation as if the role was created for them.
Desiderio is the gray eminence who has always plotted against his brother. Before her with Nada, the woman loved but punished with Hell for daring to resist her love for her and her request to become the queen of Dreaming. Then creating a daughter with Unity Kinkaid, born to be the Whirlwind of her generation when Morpheus was captured, forcing his brother's hand to the point of bringing him one step closer to shedding family blood.
The viewer does not know what would have happened at that point, but can imagine that it would not have been a good thing for the protagonist.
There is an explanation for so much hate. One that is the Desire itself to give. She hates him because Morpheus feels superior. Because he cannot accept being at the service of humans, as his brother claims. But at the end of the game the real reason is that Desiderio is jealous. Humans spend a third of their lives in the Realm of Dreams. Dreams are something beautiful that humans desire, they are what gives them the strength to move forward and evolve. They are powerful enough to even support the existence of Hell.
Tell me, Lucifer Morningstar, what power would hell have if those imprisoned here didn't dream of Heaven?
By its very nature, Desire needs to be desired and sees with horror how humans, but not limited to, want dreams more than the gifts he has to offer. This is the reason it is so dangerous and there is no doubt that we will see it again, if the second season is produced!
It deserves a special mention without a shadow of a doubt Charles Dance (Game of Thrones) which, with its interpretation of the Magus Roderick Burgess, reminds us of why the human race does not have many admirers among immortal and divine creatures. If there was a Father of the Year award category in every series played and always a very likable character, they would both go to him for sure!
In the end, who should see this series?
All those who have loved T and who are curious to see how it has been adapted. All the new fans who may not have even been born when the comic came out, but who have heard about it and got curious.
Lovers of Fantasy and mythology. Gothic and well-told stories. Those who want to get lost in a different world, but which is at the same time full of all those tribulations that everyone knows and faces. Who needs to see complex characters recognize their emotions and not repress them. Who wants to see how inclusion is increasingly possible in modern products, but that it is not a last-minute invention. That the authors have always written about rejected characters and on the margins of society who can be not only accepted, but also powerful and redeem themselves in the eyes of those who have always excluded them.
T is a product for everyone. For those who love TV series and despite being disappointed too many times still have faith in showrunners and in the awareness that there are valid products, even if rare, it is enough to know how to look for them. For anyone who loves DC and knows it can do justice to its characters on the small screen.
But above all, for those who still dream, even if it is increasingly difficult.
If all this is not enough for you, we point out an interesting unofficial guide to The Sandman that you can find at this address. Perfect before going to bed and waiting to enter the dream realms.
Dream! Dreams shape the world. Dreams recreate the world, every night.Morpheus