Building castles in the sand
News that M. Night Shyamalan’s new film Old would be inspired by the French graphic novel Sandcastle had me very interested in the source material. What was it about this story that gripped Shyamalan so much that he wanted to option it and make a movie? I had to read it now.
The setup to this story is simple: Thirteen people (for various different reasons), arrives at a secluded beach and happen upon a drowned woman. What happens next is worth reading, and thankfully this 100-page book keeps it concise. I would do you a disservice to spoil any of it. I don’t know what the plot of Shyamalan’s movie is, but my sense is that he’ll keep the broad strokes from the book; and that’s a good thing.
Take the cover art, for example. I’ve already told you that the woman is “drowned,” but the cover shows a young-looking female seemingly upside-down, naked and floating in the water. She seems like she could be happy. Her hair is flowing in the water as if this is an enjoyable swim for her. The flipping of this image tells me before reading that all will not be what it seems to be.
Most importantly I want to impart why this comic is so good. There’s something here that stuck with me after reading it. Perhaps it’s the right mix of characters that had wonderfully specific motivations. That’s the thing, for a group of people to face a crucible like this, the characters have to feel representative of something. There’s an aloof seeming wanderer, an older authoritarian doctor, children along for the ride and other characters that fill out a very relatable day at the beach.
That this book is from Europe is interesting because it represents such great commentary on the North American lifestyle. The story doesn’t spoon-feed you answers or offer too much, too soon. Because of that, you’ll find yourself just as disoriented as many of the characters are. You’ll be wondering what’s going on too. The visual medium of the graphic novel is perfect for this kind of story while having it in black and white feels like a bold move.
I read this book in one sitting, and I suspect you will too.
Thankfully this is the Internet, and you can find almost anything. Sandcastle is available on ComiXology if you’d like to read it too.