Thanks to Alex Wilkinson for alerting me to this treasure from YouTube: an animated version of the opening sequence of Mortal Engines. It’s all the work of Julia Zhuravleva who is currently studying at the Russian State Institute of Cinematography (aka VGIK). I hesitate to call it ‘fan art’, but I must stress that this was done as a personal project for part of her course: it has no commercial element, and is nothing to do with the long-rumoured Mortal Engines movie… but until there is an official Mortal Engines movie, this will do very nicely. I was startled to see that it’s Julia’s first attempt at animation. The characters’ gestures and Tom’s facial expressions are beautifully observed, and the story unfolds clearly and simply without a single line of dialogue. It will leave you wishing there was more! (It’s worth watching full screen, or at least on YouTube, where it’s slightly bigger).
Julia’s Deviantart portfolio contains several ‘explications’: storyboard-like sequences which illustrate some of the key scenes in the book and give a tantalising idea of what a straight adaptation of the story would look like. It’s all done in a very clean and uncluttered style that’s miles away from my own, yet somehow these simple, straightforward images come uncannily close to what I imagined. Julia must know the book like the back of her hand. She has Valentine and Miss Fang to a ‘T’, and although hypothetical-movie-Hester isn’t as ugly as book-Hester (nobody would want to watch it if she was) there is something right about her just the same. Meanwhile, the scenes of Shrike wading through the sunken town, the balloon leaving Airhaven, the pirates fleeing Tunbridge Wheels, and Tom looking down on Batmunkh Gompa are just how I saw them while I was writing. All right, so Chrysler Peavey’s monkey seems to have turned into a cat, but who cares? Part of the pleasure of encountering other people’s images of the book is they give me a chance to see it through new eyes. These make me feel as if I’ve just discovered the world of Mortal Engines all over again…
All images and video © Julia Zhuravleva