Review |  Sandman  1X11: A Dream of a Thousand Cats  Critical Plan

Review | Sandman 1X11: A Dream of a Thousand Cats Critical Plan

hal4

The nickname “virtually unadaptable comic” that Sandman earned for many years wasn’t an exaggeration, we all understand that by now. Among the many stories for which this opinion was quite strong, Um Sonho de Mil Gatos held a privileged position. The fact that it is mainly about a cat world or from the perspective of cats makes it very difficult to transfer this storyline to audiovisual media, so the decision of the series producers to opt for animation to reinvent this story, in the end the best was possible. In fact, the only one, in my opinion, does justice to what the author wanted to convey in his original publication, The Sandman #18, now grouped in the Land of Dreams arc.

The original story has a perfect rhythmic progression built in layers. In it we see a kitten being euthanized. In the next scene, he sees an adult cat at the window inviting him to something that will happen outside the house. In the present animation, directed by Hisko Hulsing (known for his work on the Undone series in recent years), we see this beginning very well formed in feel and progression, with a pup escaping on a nocturnal adventure , where he meets the Speech of a Prophet’s Cat (Sandra Oh, in a calm, imposing and very beautiful dub). There is a good range of feelings in this beginning, all very close to horror. In development, that feeling is amplified, but there are scenes that take a different path, a touch of beauty and warmth in the midst of a story that, no matter how the viewer interprets the plot, will always be melancholic, beautiful and touching.

The animation technique chosen has proven itself very well in this production, which is strongly anchored in sensations, in order to convey the construction and/or deconstruction of an entire existence to the audience. The director makes a hypnotic blend of real oil paintings with the classic 2D format. The interaction between the world of humans and the world of cats also allows for scene blocks in which these paintings interact with the realistic 3D drawings of cats by Untold Studios, London. From this material the Submarine Studios in Amsterdam have made a colourway that is a real spectacle. The Prophet’s flashback scenes mix a mother’s grief with a feline, sexy moment as she flirts with a stray cat that she has chosen to be her lover. The scene is beautiful, the color of the cat is beautiful, and the twilight environment in the background tells the viewer a lot of things, which allows them to create one of the most intense and joyful atmospheres in the work in just a few seconds.

To see Morpheus depicted here in a mother cat’s dreams in a grieving process is exciting in many ways and further proof (which is straight out of the comics, not an invention of the series!) that the manifestation of the dream can be in any shape, color , environment, culture and species. Aside from the obvious hint that animals also have access to the dream, we realize how much the cat dream produces a creation narrative worthy of applause. The idea that the most dreamy species is the one that gives all the explanations and dictates the rules for the world they live in, from start to finish. The invitation to the collective dream is directly posited, as is the difficulty of realizing this shared dream. In fact, the choice of cats for this performance was very correct on the part of Neil Gaiman, who incidentally does a great job of voicing the skeletal crow of the catvisiting part of Dreaming.

What forms a reality? What is the true power of a collective dream? How is it possible to wipe out an entire era and create something where the former rulers become the ruled and, as the case may be, be accepted in some spaces of the new reality? The amount of interpretations for this story has always intrigued me. It’s an adventure about creation, about the possibility of changing things (our reality/universe is the example in the story, but the author’s fable, as always in this genre, applies to any particular environment in a person’s life); about dreaming together and striving to build a New Era based on that collective desire. A lyrical tale with a gaping window of hope for any selfrespecting dreamer.

Sandman 1X11: Dream of a Thousand Cats US, UK, August 19, 2022
Direction: Hisko Hulsing
road map: Catherine SmythMcMullen
Pour: Tom Sturridge, Sandra Oh, Rosie Day, Neil Gaiman, David Gyasi, Joe Lycett, James McAvoy, David Tennant, Georgia Tennant, Michael Sheen, Anna Lundberg, Nonso Anozie, Diane Morgan, Tom Wu
Duration: 16 mins