Moving Pictures - Kathryn and Stuart Immonen

What strikes you at first about Moving Pictures is the graphic quality of the illustrations. Everything is in black and white, with a lot of shadows and silhouettes and even panels that are entirely black. There are long sequences without dialogue; sometimes during a conversation there are pregnant pauses which convey meaning without any words at all. You get the impression of watching a movie, with shots that establish the scene or set the mood, intimate conversations between two people, cutting back and forth between the present and the past.

Ila Gardner is in France during the Second World War. Here she is, being questioned by the German officer Rolf Hauptmann about the location of various pieces of artwork. Here she is, at a different time, talking with a friend about getting out of France before it’s too late. Here she is, cataloging artwork in the catacombs beneath the museum. Here she is with Rolf, apparently after a romantic evening together.

As the story leaps backward and forward in time, you get a fuller picture of who Ila is, but the Immonens rarely just spell anything out for you. The people talk like real people, not like actors reading from a script, and there are hesitations and half-finished sentences. There’s a world of meaning in things that aren’t said. While it’s historical fiction based on actual events during the war, Moving Pictures focuses on Ila and what drives her, the difficult decisions that she must make.

I really liked the drawing and the storyline, though it’s not an easy one to follow. It’s a little bit artsy—like a black and white art film that doesn’t tie up all the loose ends but instead forces you to think a bit about what’s going on. It’s certainly not a book for lazy readers but the Immonens have captured the atmosphere with a few deft strokes of the pen and careful selection of scenes and dialogue.

If you’re interested in a graphic novel that doesn’t spell everything out for you, take a look at Moving Pictures.

Note: this review was originally written for GeekDad as part of my Stories About Girls series.

Fed to jonathan's brain | February 09, 2011 | Comments (0)


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