oh my gaddes! v2.0 - at the movies



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To learn all about Escaflowne: the Movie - a Girl in Gaia, check out Tsubasa no Kami. As you will quickly gather, the world of the movie is very different to that of the TV series, and so are practically all the characters. They have the same names and look similar to their series selves, but in almost every case have been conceptually reworked. Because the shorter timespan of the movie puts pretty tight practical restrictions on development of secondary characters, you may be disappointed to find that the only characters whose personalities we really get to explore are Hitomi, Van, and to a lesser extent Folken. Not that we got to explore Gaddes all that helluva much in the first place *^.^*

Anyway, at right we see him as he was depicted in the tarot-style trading card set that was released in conjunction with the movie. Two abiding mysteries pertain to this card set: why a tarot theme was used, when the Hitomi of the movie does not read tarot cards, and how the named cards on which the characters would appear were chosen.

Tarot Gaddes

pictures courtesy of Tsubasa no Kami

After all, placing Dilandau as the Devil and Van and Hitomi as the Lovers makes a certain amount of sense (and I think Dilandau would be flattered), but apart from these logical and obvious choices it can get a bit bewildering. (A highlight is card thirteen, depicting Dilandau's Alseides armour, which is labelled 'The Death.' Not just a Death, the Death. Accept no substitutes *^.^* It's fun what you get when a Japanese person translates Italian directly into English without considering the two languages' different use of the definite article. Yet the error doesn't happen where it might on other cards like Strength and Temperance.) Gaddes as the Hanged Man? In the first place, I can't help finding it bizarre that he's depicted right way up *^.^* (The Hanged Man is traditionally illustrated as a man hung up, not by the neck, but upside-down by one ankle. He's usually clearly alive, and in some cases striking quite a jaunty pose even as he dangles. My favourite Hanged Man, in my Italian Art Nouveau tarot deck, is gazing at the rope around his ankle with folded arms and a slightly exasperated but resigned 'Boy, what a day' expression.) Even more strangely, three other Crusade crew members (although there's no ship called Crusade in the movie, this seems the simplest way to designate them) appear on the card for Temperance. Temperance? Oooo-kay... we'll just stop looking for logic right here.

Smirky Gaddes

Let's talk about Gaddes himself. At left we see him in a detail of a group portrait from the movie artbook, demonstrating his best Stoner Smirk. It might be helpful to begin with a review of my September 1999 speculations about him. First off, the rumour that Allen was not in the movie and Gaddes had a bigger part was wrong, as you can see on the At the Movies page at The Allen Schezar Project. Gaddes is still a member of Allen's crew, although they are not in the Asturian army, but freedom fighters of the Abaharaki resistance movement, battling the Black Dragon Clan led by the spectacularly unpleasant movie version of Folken. Allen isn't a Knight of Heaven in this version - in fact, although he has a sense of honour that approaches chivalry, he seems more like an adult version of the adolescent bandit Allen of the series. The contrast between him and his men is less this way; they are all more rough-edged and badass. What is exactly the same as in the series is that Allen and Gaddes seem to be friends, and Gaddes offers Allen complete trust and obedience, despite being a rather unruly fellow otherwise.

I said 'He seems to be kind of a hybrid of Gaddes and that shaven-headed Crusader ... who fought by throwing knives,' and in this I was nearer the mark - Gaddes is a knife-thrower in the movie, quite spectacularly so. One of the coolest scenes in the movie is an incident in which Van and Allen are having a fight - not because of anything soppy and series-like like both being in love with Hitomi, but just because movie Van is a bit of an aggressive young dickhead, ahem, maverick, and although Allen suffers him to be in his little rebel band because he's so effective as a fighter, the two of them are frequently at each other's throats. Anyway, Allen kicks Van's ass (ah, that is like the series, then) and when Van is trying to get up to attack him again, he's thwarted by a knife thrown by Gaddes, protecting his captain. Van pulls the knife out of his leg (everyone in the cinema say OUCH) and chucks it straight back at Gaddes. What is so nifty about this is that the knife, in its flight, whistles through the air about a centimetre from the side of Allen's face, actually slicing off a snippet of blond hair, and Allen doesn't move a muscle. No flinch, nothing. Because he is... Too Cool. And Gaddes catches the knife, spins it round his fingers like a gunslinger and pops it back into his bandoliers. Ha, take that, Van.

Also, 'The costume design shows the overall more hard-edged, less shoujo style of the movie material released so far. Although what it mainly shows is just plain Gaddes *^.^*' I think I was quite right about the hard-edged style; the darkness and violence of the movie can come as a bit of a shock to the system for fans of the more pretty aspects of the TV series.

As for showing us Gaddes, well, my old friend Amy commented 'Apparently there isn't enough material on the new Gaea to make a whole shirt,' and my new friend Lizz described his upper garment as 'a crop top no self-respecting poof would wear.' Which brings us to an interesting question: the world of Gaea in the movie seems overall more primitive than that of the series, without refined kingdoms like Asturia that might be expected to have more sophisticated manufacturing and textiles technology. How is it, then, that Gaddes appears to be wearing Lycra? *^.^* I'm actually semi-serious - a garment would have to be made of a fine machine-knit fabric, with a fair amount of elasticity, for it to have the skin-tight appearance of this top, with muscle definition showing through. Unless it's, like, eelskin or something. I remember reading that in the last days of Imperial Russia, young army officers attending a royal ball would wear eelskin breeches so tight they had to be helped/forced into them by two burly assistants. There's a mental image that's slow to fade. Especially if you think of it in connection with these characters.

Allen *out of breath*: Well, there's no question of not putting them on, I have to be properly dressed if I'm going to attend.
Gaddes: This is a lot harder than when all I had to do was inflate your puffy sleeves. *studies the problem* Have we got any Vaseline?

I think that's enough of that. Having thought about his clothes in obsessive detail, I should go on to give you my insights to movie Gaddes' personality. He doesn't have the admirable rapport with Princess Millerna that the series versions of these characters did. Millerna is one of the most extensively reinvented characters in the movie - she's even gone from being a blonde to a redhead - and in the process seems to have lost a good deal of her personality and connection to other characters. It's not even clear what her relationship with Allen is, except that she's under his command. Other than that... well, she's a tough chick who likes roses, and that's about it.

With the tiny amount of screen time he gets, Gaddes conveys an impression of immense vigour and athletic exuberance. His first entrance made me laugh with surprise and delight - Allen is talking to Mr Mole, who in the movie is a soothsayer whose services the Abaharaki have engaged, although many of them are skeptical of his abilities and suspect he's a charlatan. The Moleman having served his purpose, Gaddes jumps on him and asks Allen what he wants them to do now. I don't mean he lays hold of him or bumps into him - he actually leaps down from who knows where, descending from top of frame like the traditional 16-ton weight, and lands on Mole's shoulders, knocking him to the ground and landing in an elegant cat-like crouch still on top of the poor old geezer. It took me a second to figure out what had happened, and then I had to rewind and have it again because it was so neat. 'Yay! There's my boy!' I hadn't known how fond I was of Gaddes until I realised how pleased I was to see him again, and still on form.

He still dashes around yelling orders at his guys, you'll be pleased to know, so Allen never has to raise his voice. The other Golden Gaddes Moment of the movie comes from the same sequence as the knife-throwing bit - seeing her hero humbled in the dust, the catgirl Merle comes dashing down to his aid, pausing on her way to give Gaddes a damn' good kick in the shins for being mean to him. Seeing badass movie-Gaddes hopping on one leg and wincing at a blow from spazzy little Merle is quite a hoot. (You may observe from this that what comedy there is in the movie is far more inclined to slapstick than the more subtle humour of the series, which tended to come from the expressions on people's faces more than anything else.)

There's really not much else to say about him, but he does come across as an appealing character. One brief scene suggests that, although they will smack Van down as long as he sets himself up against their commander, Gaddes and the other crewmen would quite like to be friends with him if he would only be a bit more friendly. I think it's safe to say that Gaddes comes through the movie with his nice guy credentials intact. And yes, he is good ogling value *^.^*