Tuesday, October 30, 2018

If you do one thing this Halloween, watch Over the Garden Wall

When I was seven years old I threw my first Halloween party.

It was me, my friend Jenny, and my immediate family, who were there by default.  I made a pin-the-tail-on-the-black-cat game.  We bobbed for apples and then dipped them in caramel.

The year before, at the age of 6, instead of trying to form words in my daily journal at school, I drew ghosts, tombstones, haunted houses, jack-o-lanterns, spider webs, and witches, all throughout the month of October.  I couldn't write and I could barely read.  But the archetypes of Halloween possessed my pages.  Barely over five years earth-side and the symbols of the season resonated to my roots, like memories from a past life.

Indeed it is a kind of shared cultural memory: the burning autumn trees and pumpkin lanterns and hay rides.  It is a Halloween that exists on a different level of reality; it is a country that touches, or is a county within, Fairyland.  Its denizens and theirs commingle.



When I saw Over the Garden Wall, I recognised it immediately.  Here was my Halloween.  The invisible but palpable dream Halloween of my childhood, which sometimes crosses the threshold from its land into ours.  Crossroads, liminal seasons, leylines draw it, same attracting same.  This animated series is a profound and insightful work of art made with reverence and levity, at once a homage and a carrying on of the tradition of the Halloween of memory, the cultures, and peoples, and the traditions that have joined joined the soup; of the land of loose boundaries, of death and life, and what fairy tales mean.

I could write reams and reams about this series and how it earns its place in the canon of traditional fairy tales.  How it draws from the Grimms, and Americana, and the existential questions people ask themselves late at night when the fire dies down and the stars remain.  The superb acting talent absorbed into the story.  The reminiscent animation style, the humor, the character growth and arcs, the shared human antagonist--so embedded in the subconscious that we know him intimately, though we ever only see him fully for less than a second.

But I don't have time for that now.  I have lanterns to light and icons to dress and dead to pray for and anticipate.  So I'll just say this: if you do one thing this Halloween, watch Over the Garden Wall.

fleur2

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