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Chapter 23 (Strip 01)
Death and the Maiden Comic Strip

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There are slow movies, slooooooooooow movies, and then there's Meet Joe Black (James Berardinelli's review in ReelViews).

This is going to be a rant about the movie which you should not read, if you like Meet Joe Black.

On one hand, Meet Joe Black is a hardly bearable, melodramatic tearjerker (believe me, I know what I'm talking about, I had to watch it three times, and it got worse every single time I've seen it), but on the other hand, there are frighteningly many resemblances with Death and the Maiden, too. Seeing this, I could only either ignore or confront them.

As soon as I had decided to use Joe Black in my storyline, I hadn't even seen it yet. All I knew was one single scene, which was the first meeting between Hopkins and Pitt early in the movie, which I thought was crappy enough to slash it in my cartoon.
Actually, I only saw the movie in its full length when Death and the Maiden were already sitting in the theatre. At that point, there was no way back, and I'm not so sure whether I would have pursued the idea of using the movie, had I known about the similarities earlier:

First of all, there's the basic plot - Death incarnate developing an emotional bond to a mortal being.
The explanation what actually happens, while Death takes a holiday comes very close to my own. There are a few differences, though.
Even trivial jokes like Death, eating seem like copied from the movie. I swear that I wasn't inspired by Joe Black's fondness for peanut butter when I came up with the popcorn! As I said, I watched the movie only in the last minute, and by then, the popcorn joke was already set.
Last but not least, there's the veeeeery long drawn-out storyline. Actually, I shouldn't complain about Meet Joe Black in this regard.

Bearing all this in mind, I still do it - I still go on about that movie. I don't like it. It's at least 1 1/2 hours too long, it's badly acted, badly directed, badly written and most of all, it's the most awful KITSCH I have seen for a long time. And I do enjoy a certain amount of Kitsch.
If you want to see a good soppy movie about Death taking a holiday and falling in love, go and see the movie that bears that same title - Death takes a holiday (1934). They used to make good movies in the thirties, even the schmaltzy ones were decent. BTW, Meet Joe Black claims to be the remake of Death takes a holiday, but both movies have little in common, other than Death falling for a mortal girl.

© Nina Ruzicka