In the not too distant 1989, when The Sandman was released for the first time for DC Comics (in America, since it arrived in Italy in 1991), surely many readers will have imagined in their heads the scenes drawn by Sam Kieth And Mike Dringenberg, and written by Neil Gaiman. More than 20 years later, finally, one of the most epic sagas in comics has been considered for a transposition. Or rather, it has been transposed: if we go to see the historian, Gaiman and DC have received more than half a dozen proposals, since 1991 when Warner Bros proposed to make a film. Better late than never, today comes The Sandman on Netflixand this is our review.
Out of DC Comics
Before talking about the series, to contextualize, let’s dedicate some space to the comic: The Sandman comes from the mind of Neil Gaiman, the same writer of American Gods and Nessundove. If he was never into comics at first, read Swamp Thing’s Alan Moore it made him change his mind, and probably the very stories written by the one who donated works like Watchmen and The Killing Joke to the world gave way to Gaiman to tell this rather particular character.
The stories of The Sandman in the comics are directly related and intertwined with the world of DC Comics: for this reason one of the great works done by Gaiman himself, by David S. Goyer and Allan Heinberg, was to extrapolate it from the context, re-adapting those ideas that surely a reader of comics would have found intriguing, but which for a user of TV series would have been just somewhat bizarre. The world has also moved on: if John Constantine was actually cleared through customs between movies and TV series (remember that the character appeared for the first time on Swamp Thing), Lucifer he did his good and bad times in that procedural series already released some time ago (and remember that the same character was born from The Sandman). But the Astro del Mattino is just one of the characters who, born from the work of Gaiman, they came to life by shining with their own light. Seeing The Sandman then, if by chance you notice something that is familiar to you, don’t worry: probably that something was born inside the pages of the comic, and now you are witnessing the original work.
It must also be said that at the time, albeit with all the intrinsic quality that Gaiman’s work possesses, the comic was not as widespread as it is todayleaving to all intents and purposes a sort of architectural barrier that even the youngest readers, perhaps accustomed to the stories of Batman and Superman, are not easy to take something like The Sandman and read it with ease. For this reason, the transposition into a TV series could in effect explode this imaginary. Or anyway, we hope so.
All fans of The Sandman in a dream will have imagined the scenes drawn in the comics by Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg, and to all intents and purposes the Netflix series is a dream come to life: meticulous work – thanks to the presence of Gaiman who this time got his hands on it more than the last few times – it becomes a narrative almost completely faithful to the original, demonstrating that basically you don’t necessarily need to twist and change to be able to tell a story.
The TV series tells the story of MorpheusKing of Dreams and Nightmares, one of the seven Eternal, which is captured by a magician during a ritual. After being held in captivity – with all the consequences of the case in the dream world – he will have to roll up his sleeves to revive his kingdom, fix the problems created by his absence and even fight some nightmare that has decided to escape into the world of wakefulness.
The tv series tells various narrative cycles in a way very close to comics: in fact the stories – as well as in print – are divisible and can be enclosed in macro stories, with some one-shot episodes which, although it continues the horizontal narrative, in the end it has its beginning and its end. If the plot is almost identical to that of the comic – save for some minor contextualization changes due to the modern setting, and some adjustments for the removed links to the world of DC Comics – the characters are just as faithful to their counterparts made of pencil and colors. Tom Sturridge brings to the screen a fantastic Morpheus, with his deep gazes and his articulate words. Also interesting are the secondaries like Lucienne, librarian of the kingdom of Dream, and all the inhabitants of that place. The various antagonists, who do not fall into the classic black and white but remain in a fantastic and very deep gray area, are equally well structured.
All this, however, should not make you think of a simple and stupid copy: the tv series of The Sandman it has its own soul, its own character, which although it is almost identical to that of comics, is nevertheless characterized in its own way. Moreover, sometimes it is possible to perceive from those who have already read these stories, that the series is able to propose certain scenes with one higher quality than seen on the printed cartas, proposing themes and dynamics in a better way thanks to the fact that the TV series allows you to have moving images.
Magic, from comics to TV series
What the original series of The Sandman had at the time is found in parallel in this TV series Netflix: each episode, without worrying about duration or rhythm, tells the story in its own way and does so in an almost magical way. You will notice that some episodes will have a steady pace capable of taking you on an adventure, while others may even make you losing track of time (episode 5) or immerse yourself in a story made of flashbacks and profound moments (episode 6).
The Sandman TV series has one truly rare depth of mind: the themes it deals with are touching at times, the ways in which things are explained and shown are almost ethereal, and everything is conceived and written and directed with such gusto that it detaches by a hand at least many of today’s productions. Every sentence, every gesture and every expression contribute to the creation of a product that will immerse you in this strange adventure. There is no dream without quality imagery, and the technical sector takes care of this anyway, capable of offering truly wonderful cuts and sequences, as well as works in computer graphics capable of leaving you speechless.
Finally, a huge round of applause goes to Italian dubbing: following the thread of the comic’s translation, many sentences, many dialogues and many thoughts are practically identical, taken word for word and proposed by the dubbing cast in an almost perfect way. Equally of quality is the way in which the various dynamics were handled in terms of time within the series: these 10 episodes contain within them two sagas and some one shot (in case you are interested, they are the first two volumes, Preludi e Notturni and Casa di Bambole). With the names of episodes that echo those of the chapters, the time used is exactly the right one, without ever falling in pace if not desired by the story itself.
The Sandman 1
9.5 Total Score
The Sandman is a little gem too little known by the non-comic public, and which can now finally reach the masses: Netflix, entrusting the series to the right people, hit the jackpot allowing the creation of a TV series with epic tones, with a quality of the highest category, a superlative acting and a truly profound meaning. The Sandman is not about the adventures of men in tights, but about the human being, about values and realities so recognized that they will allow you to wrap yourself in this warm embrace made of dreams, nightmares and human relationships, even when these are not they occur among humans but between Eternals and mythological beings.