Monday, September 15, 2014
For anyone who is a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, the dynamic Starz series, of the same name, reveals few shocks. We who have read the books over and over again know these characters almost as well as the backs of our hands (hey, that freckle is new...). And yet, each week, as we watch the storyline unfold, and allow ourselves to be drawn into the backdrop of 18th century Scotland to mingle with the MacKenzies, Jamie, Claire, and the dastardly Black Jack Randall, we hold our breath in anticipation as each scene unfolds. To say that the creators have done a wonderful job, is an understatement. The adaptation of Gabaldon’s ongoing saga of war and love and time travel is mesmerizing. A good deal of the scenes take place outdoors, in forests and glens, and the cinematography could offer no better tourist inducement than the natural beauty of the landscape. I suspect flights will be full to Scotland next summer. As breathtaking as the landscapes are, the interior scenes are haunting. Where so many shows offer rich and opulent interiors meant to remind us of the days when velvet and brocade were commonplace, the Outlander interiors subtly remind us that luxury, both in the post WWII era and in the 18th century was not always an option, even for the wealthy. The lighting casts shadows, even in the daylight hours; there is a chill in the air at midday, and the cool demeanor of the clansmen and their English interlopers is palpable even when they are not speaking. One of the greatest testaments to the clever handling of the work is how the company (everyone connected with the production), allows the people to be real. More dirt and mud and dust adorn the actors faces, than make up. The hair may be matted, shaggy; the nails may be dirty and ragged; the eyes pale and creased, but we believe we are looking upon the characters as they have stepped from the pages, not from central casting or the makeup trailer. We are repulsed by the battle wounds, and are entranced by the simple unadorned beauty of a smile. And because of all of this, and so much more, as I watch each episode, I treasure those minutes as if that time has been suspended. I do not want the story to rush. Each scene is so priceless, that I listen for the sound of the ticking clock on my mantle to slow, to pause, to stop, just briefly, as I get swept away and travel back through time for an hour or so... Until the music swells, the credits flash, and I breathe, once more.