The origins of Ransom Riggs’s book Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children began with a collection of random photos that the author had scrounged together from flea markets and swap meets over the years. Riggs’s grab bag of oddities predominantly featured archival images of creepy-looking kids doing strange things. In one such photo a po-faced child with Pre-Raphaelite ringlets and a white party dress levitates a few feet above the ground. In another, a farm boy sits on the ground clutching two dead-eyed dolls. A certain aura of the ominous hangs over these images, like mist on a lake. They draw the eye, compelling viewers to search the edges of the frame for additional clues as to the source their power. Read On…
Riggs fashioned his debut novel around the photos, letting them direct the action and people the story. The result was a slowly unfolding tale of a young boy named Jacob Portman, who sets out to unravel the mystery of the photos and in the process discovers an even stranger truth.
Director Tim Burton’s attraction to such material is entirely understandable. The man has fashioned his entire career around films about freaky weirdoes, odd events, and darkness all round — from Edward Scissorhands to The Corpse Bride, et al. Burton’s creations occasionally get away from him and become twee disasters, reeking of directorial hubris and thespian mannerisms run amok. (I am looking at you, Johnny Depp.) Whether Mr. Burton will bring the world of Miss Peregrine and her curious charges to life, or loose another literary meltdown like Alice in Wonderland remains to be seen. Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Terence Stamp, Judi Dench, and Samuel L. Jackson head up a remarkable collection of actors. But in viewing preliminary clips from the film, it appears the weirdness has been prettied up. The palette is bright, the characters sweetly charming.
In light of this, it is tempting to return to the dark heart at the centre of the story, namely the photos themselves and their eerie particularity. Provenance unknown, these images resist being roped off into a single narrative enclosure, and retain their indefinable unsettling mystery.
AWFJ Movie of the Week Panelists Comments:
Elizabeth Wittemore: My pick is Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Having read the first book in this Ransom Riggs series, I am all too eager to see it spring to life off the page and onto the big screen. The book has such lush imagery that one can only imagine that with the added hand of screenwriter Jane Goldman (Kingsman, Stardust) and the direction of Tim Burton (Edward Scissorshands, Corpse Bride, Beetlejuice, Big Fish), we’re in for a visual feast for the eyes. The timing of release is also wonderful with Halloween right around the corner. The film is sure to inspire children and parents alike to both purchase the series and dress like these extraordinary characters.
Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Director: Tim Burton
Release Date: September 30, 2016
Running Time: 126 minutes
Principal Cast: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Chris O’Dowd, Allison Janney, Rupert Everett, Terence Stamp, Ella Purnell, Judi Dench, Samuel L. Jackson
Screenwriter: Jane Goldman
Production Companies: Chernin Entertainment, Tim Burton Productions, TSG Entertainment
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Official Site Link
AWFJ Movie of the Week Panel Members: Thelma Adams, Nikki Baughan, Anne Brodie, Candice Frederick, Pam Grady, Leba Hertz, Loren King, Cate Marquis, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Perri Nemiroff, Liz Whittemore, Jeanne Wolf
Edited by Sandra Kraisirideja, AWFJ.org Associate Editor. Written by Dorothy Woodend