Monday, 27 January 2014

The analysis of Godfather Death OR How I stopped worrying and learned to love the Doctor.

THE ANALYSIS OF:
GODFATHER DEATH
OR
HOW I STOPPED WORRYING AND LEARNED TO LOVE THE DOCTOR.

| INTRODUCTION:
There has been a tendency of late for movie makers to tackle the classic fairy tales in much the same way that I do. But where I remain both faithful and respectful of the material the movie versions are generally rewritten to be gritty action packed adventures with the bad CGI monster dial turned all the way up.

Not long ago, whilst I was perusing my various tomes in a room that was illuminated only by the brief punctuation of jagged lighting arcing across the eternity of ebon night and Fluffywuffykins, my pet Shoggoth, looked about for someone to take her walkies I stumbled across more than a few examples which suggested the Grimms themselves weren't above doing the same thing, although understandably they didn't have the budget for poorly rendered CGI monsters.  This particular gem stands out as an example of their darker works. It first came to my attention when the title piqued my interest and what I discovered is that they've discarded the wicked witches, long lost princes and happily ever afters in favor of Death, a doctor and a father who's not afraid to to tell both God and The Devil exactly what he really thinks of them in the same way that we've all dreamed of marching into the bosses office right now.

A further note: Death "TALKS LIKE THIS" only because I am unfortunate enough to be a fan of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series in which the character of Death plays a major role, has a horse named Binky and likes cats [1]. I urge you to stay away from all twenty books. Trust me you'll hate them, really [2].


| THE STORY:
There was once a poor man who had twelve children. None of them were old enough to help him which is why he had to work day and night to feed his family. Because he had an understanding wife and an advanced degree in time management skills he managed to schedule enough alone time in order to bring about his thirteenth child.
But once the boy was born the man realized that finances might be just a touch strained and ran out into the road intending to ask the first person whom he met to be godfather to his latest issue.
The first person that the man met out on the road was God but where you or I might be overawed by the presence of the almighty just casually strolling down the road on a sunny day the newest father managed to keep his composure [3]
"Poor man I pity you" God said to the man [4] "I'll hold your child at his baptism, care for him and make him happy on earth"
"That sounds great" the man said "but who are you exactly?"
"I'm God" said God "the allfather and creator of all things. I've got a business card if you want it"
"No thanks. I'm not certain I actually believe in your existence"
"But I'm right here" said God who was, technically speaking, everywhere "talking to you. I've been watching you and know that you're a hard worker. I thought that I'd come down and personally help out"
"You want to help out? Would you care to explain why you make some people rich and others poor? And what about the whole garden of Eden thing. we're still trying to figure that out"
"I have a habit of moving in mysterious ways"
"Thought so" said the man as he turned away from the lord which, traditionally, leads one to hot water but this time only served to advance the plot.
Indeed the sun was high in the sky before the man met anyone else on the road and since this particular man wore a expensive red suit, carried a dangerous looking pitchfork and sported a rather dashing goatee and moustache combination it wasn't surprising that the mans next words were
"A devil!"
"It's The actually, as in the singular rather than the plural, I had a business card around here somewhere"
"Sorry, what did you want?"
"Oh I was just wandering about the world and heard about what you said to God so I thought I'd throw my own hat into the ring"
"I haven't got a ring"
"While I, good sir, have no hat. But if you will take me as godfather to your latest progeny I'll make certain that he's got gold in abundance and can partake in all the joys of the world"
"I don't know" the man said "how do I know you won't just lead my boy astray and teach him all manner of bad habits?"
"You can trust me" the devil said "I'm the devil" [5]
But the man didn't believe a word of it and wisely stomped off down the road.
The sun had almost set by the time the man saw anyone else.
"This is the one" he said "I don't care who it is this man will be my child's godfather"
When the latest traveller came within speaking distance the man fell into step next to him and explained about his problem
"... so what the boy really needs is a godfather"
The traveller, who had remained hooded all this time, stopped and looked at the man "I'VE BEEN CALLED MANY THINGS IN MY TIME"
"It's an easy job and I've already turned down the devil and someone who may or may not have been God. Who are you by the way?"
The stranger took down his hood to show a white skull "DEATH"
"What really? I always thought death was a pretty goth girl with a cheery personality" [6]
"NO"
"Well, it's getting late. The baptism is next Sunday but we're having a bit of a party beforehand"
"I LIKE PARTIES" said Death thoughtfully "MAKE CERTAIN YOU DON'T SERVE THE SALMON MOUSSE"
So Death appeared at the party which was devoid of both salmon and/or moose [7] and attended to his duties in an admirable manner even if he did have to rush out at the very end to attend to his, um, DUTIES.
Time passed and the boy grew up as all the children did. When he was old enough his godfather came calling just as he must come calling on each of us but at least this time it was a social visit which meant that he left the scythe outside and gave the elderly relatives enough time to hide under the bed.
"I THINK THAT IT'S ABOUT TIME YOU LEARNED A TRADE AND AS I'M YOUR GODFATHER I SUGGEST YOU GO INTO MEDICINE SINCE YOU BEING A DOCTOR WOULD DEMONSTRATE QUITE A NICE PIECE OF IRONY."
"But sir, doesn't medical school take years of training and leave any prospective doctor with crippling student loans?"
Death bent down to show the boy a particular plant "NOT WITH THIS HERB MY BOY. WHENEVER YOU'RE CALLED TO A SICK PERSON I'LL APPEAR TO YOU AND YOU ALONE. IF I'M STANDING AT YOUR PATIENTS HEAD THEN YOU CAN GIVE HIM THE HERB AND WATCH HIM RECOVER BUT IF I'M BY THE FEET THEN HE'S MINE AND KNOW THAT NOTHING IN THIS WORLD WILL SAVE HIM. THERE'S ONE OTHER RULE YOU MUST REMEMBER BEWARE OF USING THIS HERB AGAINST MY WILL. OTHERWISE SOMETHING EXCEEDINGLY BAD WILL HAPPEN TO YOU"
Thus armed with the most miraculous herbage in the world and also the blessings of Death himself it wasn't surprising that the young man quickly climbed the medical ladder to become the most famous doctor in the entire world. People came to him from far and wide and paid well for his services it wasn't long before he became a very wealthy and important man. [8]
In the fullness of time the king of the land became ill but by the time the doctors presence was requested it was too late and Death stood waiting by the kings feet.
"I shouldn't do it" thought the doctor "but if can deceive Death this one time he'll let me off because I'm his godson"
The king was quickly spun around so that Death stood at his head and before his godfather had figured out what was going on the herb was administered which meant that the king quickly recovered.
Later that evening Death knocked on the doctors door with an angry expression [9]
"IS THERE ANY REASON THAT YOU BETRAYED ME TODAY?"
"Please forgive me godfather" the terrified doctor pleaded "but if our king were to die then it would mean that the country would be covered in wars for the throne and all of the deaths would only mean more work for you"
"VERY WELL. THIS ONE TIME I'M PREPARED TO OVERLOOK WHAT HAPPENED BECAUSE YOU'RE MY GODSON. BUT IF YOU DARE DO IT AGAIN IT WILL COST YOU"
It wasn't long after the kings recovery that the princess contracted the same illness. As she was his only child he proclaimed that whosoever rescued her from Death would gain the imperial hand and inherit the crown [10]
When the doctor came to the sick girls bed he again saw Death at her feet and really should have remembered what had happened just a few paragraphs ago but he was so infatuated with the thought of marriage to the princess and so blinded by the thought of sitting on the throne that he ignored his godfather who was shaking his bony fist in anger and cured her in the same way that he had cured her father.
Death, having been cheated out of his prize for a second time didn't wait until the evening and instead made himself visible just as the doctor was receiving the grateful kisses of the royal patient.
"NOW IT'S YOUR TURN BOY" and with long strides the pair traveled to a vast underground cavern where thousands upon thousands of candles illuminated the darkness. They ranged in size from immense to tiny and every instant these candles were dying and being replaced "THESE ARE THE LIGHTS OF MANKIND. THERE'S ONE FOR EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING"
"Show me mine godfather" the doctor asked thinking that his own would still be very large. In silence Death pointed to a tiny stub of a candle which was not only about to go out but also in a very exposed and drafty part of the cavern
"Dear godfather. Please I beg you light a new candle for me so that I can enjoy my life, become husband to the princess and eventually the king"
"I MAY NOT"
"Then set the old candle into a new one so I can continue on this world. I promise that I'll never attempt to pull the wool over your eyes again"
"IT'S AGAINST ALL THE RULES. A CANDLE MUST GO OUT BEFORE A NEW ONE IS LIT"
But the doctor begged, pleaded and grovelled until Death was persuaded but as he was replacing the candle he made a deliberate mistake and caused the flame to extinguish.
In that instant the doctor forgot all about princess's and thrones because he'd fallen to the earth and passed into the hands of Death.
"IT'S UNFORTUNATE" Death told the doctors fading spirit "BUT THERE'S ONLY ONE DOCTOR WHO GETS MORE THAN ONE LIFE AND YOU, MY GODSON, ARE NOT HIM"

| CONCLUSION:
Normally in this part of the posting I tend to drone on and on about plot points in minute detail but there isn't much to draw on with this story.
Obviously the big thing is the fact that the doctor completely ignored all common sense in his attempt to save the princess but I think that, were I in the same situation, I would want any medical professional to do the same. Also if upon waking up I was informed that i had gained a husband in lieu of a doctors bill then I think I'd still count the whole thing as a win.
All of which leads us to the inescapable moral of:
"YOU CAN'T CHEAT DEATH...BUT IT'S AMAZING HOW PEOPLE TRY"


| NOTES:

  1. He also has a tendency to get the best lines. This is also true of the Death of Rats who only ever says "SQUEAK"
  2. Yep, The old reverse psychology trick works every time. FYI: Book one is "The Colour of Magic" but the first major Death book is, appropriately enough "MORT".
  3. Because stuff like this happened all the time back then. Ask your grandparents.
  4. or possibly 'unto the man' he tends to do this quite a bit
  5. Never trust anyone who says "trust me". You probably shouldn't trust anyone who claims to be the devil either.
  6. Neil Gaiman just happens to be another author which I don't recommend.
  7. Yes, I know it's bad but I'm obligated to put this one in. Just groan and move on,
  8. At this point we know that we're dealing with a work of fiction. I mean whoever heard of a wealthy doctor?
  9. Which is something of an accomplishment when you're just a skeleton.
  10. "Aha" said everyone who reads these stories "we've finally moved away from all this metaphysical stuff and will be clearly be having a happily ever after quite soon.

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