Thursday, April 9, 2020

Stay At Home Festival: Film Fifty Five: Chris Claremont's X-Men (2018)

Back in 2018 I was contacted about doing coverage of Patrick Meany's film on Chris Claremont's time on the X-Men. I was in the middle of something or another so I asked John to pitch in with a review (it can be found here) and Ken with an interview with Claremont who was in Las Vegas at the time (The interview has still not been published. It's coming, I think. The problem is Claremont told a lot of unrepeatable stories that Ken is still trying to sort out. Ken has a way of making people tell things they really shouldn't)  while I talked to director Patrick Meaney for a third time (the interview is here). 

In the middle of all that I apparently wrote a review of the film myself, despite knowing that John was doing a killer review (which is here go read it). I completely forgot I wrote it until I recently cleaned out an email box and found the review just sitting there. 

Figuring we could use some new content for the stay at home fest I dusted it off and I present it to you now.

CHRIS CLAREMONT'S X-MEN is streaming on Amazon. And while you are it why not watch Patrick Meany's films on Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Neil Gaiman and the women of comics (SHE MAKES COMICS) or anything else he's directed (say HOUSE OF DEMONS)

Patrick Meaney has expanded his 2013 Focus in Comics documentary on Chris Claremont and the X-Men and we are so much better forward for it.

The film is a look at Claremont’s time on the X-Men books and is an examination of how he changed comics forever. Told by the people who were there, primarily Claremont, Louise Simonson and Ann Nocentti , the film has a wonderful lived in feel to it. We are there in the trenches with the creators and have their perspective on how things happened making this a story we all can connect to, like the X-Men stories themselves.

That the film works as well as it does is thanks to director Meaney’s choosing to have a large portion of the story told by the Claremont, Simonson and Nocentti sitting on a couch taking to each other. Their inter play brings out shadings to what could have been a purely academic tale of comics creation. Instead we get the three egging each other on to do more than just recount the facts but instead express how things happened and played out.

Possibly the most straight forward of Meaney’s documentaries (he’s previously profiled Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Neil Gaiman) this maybe the most non-fan friendly. The X-Men are well known everywhere, more so thanks to the ten or so films that have been made to date, so there is no discussion of esoteric titles that some people may not have heard of. This is the story of the franchise that rescued Marvel and drove the comics industry to the heights that have resulted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In talking with Patrick Meaney about the film he said that the film came out of his desire to highlight Claremont’s contribution to comics. I find it odd that he should feel that since Claremont revolutionized the industry with his serialized storytelling, ever evolving characters and brought in hundreds of creators all of whom were taught to love the medium by Claremont’s words and stories. His stories are still the measuring stick by which all comic stories are measured and they have been the stories which Hollywood has turned to in making their films simply because they can’t be topped.

Chris Claremont’s X-Men is out on home video in a version running some 26 minutes longer than a previous version which adds more stories and brings the story up to date.

Highly recommended.

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