Moving Pictures

This book is a wonderful send-up of the movie-making industry. As most of the action takes place in Holy Wood, rather than Ankh-Morpork, Lord Vetinari appears only briefly. He does appear, though; here are his scenes.

Warning: There be mild spoilers ahead. You have been warned.

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Scene the...
First Lord Vetinari receives a report on the activities of the Alchemists.
Second His Lordship visits the clicks, and meditates on the nature of fame and imporance.
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And there was a noise. Not a bang this time, but a strange mechanical purring, like a happy cat at the bottom of a tin drum.
epIt went
It went on for several minutes, to a background of cheers. And then a voice said:
'That's all, folks.'

'that's all what?' said the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, next morning.
The man in front of him shivered with fear.
'Don't know, lordship,' he said. 'They wouldn't let me in. They made me wait outside the door, lordship.'
He twisted his fingers together nervously. The Patrician's stare had him pinned. It was a good stare, and one of the things it was good at was making people go on talking when they thought they had finished.
Only the Patrician knew how many spies he had in the city. This particular one was a servant in the Alchemists' Guild. He had once had the misfortune to come up before the Patrician accused of malicious lingering, and had then chosen of his own free will to become a spy. [footnote: The alternative was choosing of his own free will to be thrown into the scorpion pit.]
'That's all, lordship,' he whined. there was just this clicking noise and this sort of flickery glow under the door. And, er, they said the daylight here was wrong.'
'Wrong? How?'
'Er. Dunno, sir. Just wrong, they said. They ought to go somewhere it was better, they said. Uh. And they told me to and get them some food.'
The Patrician yawned. There was something infinitely boring about the antics of alchemists.
'Indeed,' he said.
'But they'd had their supper only fifteen minutes before,' the servant blurted out.
'Perhaps whatever they were doing makes people hungry,' said the Patrician.
ep'Yes, and the kitchen was all shut up for the night and I had to go and buy a tray of hot sausages in buns form Throat Dibbler.'
'Indeed.' The Patrician looked down at the paperwork on his desk. 'Thank you. You may go.'
'You know what, lordship? They liked them. They actually liked them!'

In the picture-throwing room Bezam cursed as the threaded the huge reel of Blown Away into the picutre-throwing box.
A few feet away, in a roped-off section of the balcony, the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, Lord Vetinari, was also ill at ease.
They were, he had to admit, a pleasant enough young couple. He just wasn't so sure why he was sitting next to them, and why they were so important.
He was used to important people, or at least to people who thought they were important. Wizards became important through thigh deeds of magic. Thieves became important for daring robberies and so, in a slightly different way, did merchants. Warriors became important through winning battles and staying alive. Assassins became important through skilful inhumations. There were many roads to prominence, but you could see them, you could work them out. They made some sort of sense.
Whereas these two people had merely moved interestingly in front of this new-fangled moving-picture machinery. The rankest actor in the city's theatre was a multi-skilled master of thespianism by comparison to them, but it wouldn't occur to anyone to line the streets and shout out his name.
The Patrician had never visited the clicks before. As far as he could ascertain, Victor Maraschino was famous for a sort of smouldering look that had middle-aged ladies who should know better swooning in the aisles, and Miss De Syn's forte was acting languidly, slapping faces, and looking fantastic while lying among silken cushions.
While he, Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, ruled the city, preserved the city, loved the city, hated the city and had spent a lifetime in the service of the city...
And, as the common people had been filing into the stalls, his razor-keen hearing had picked up the conversation of two of them:
'Who's that up there?'
'That's Victor Maraschino and Delores De Syn! Do you know nothing?'
'I mean the tall guy in black.'
'Oh, dunno who he is. Just some bigwig, I expect.'
Yes, it was fascinating. You could become famous just for being, well, famous. It occurred to him that this was an extremely dangerous thing and he might probably have to have someone killed one day, although it would be with extreme reluctance. [footnote: On his part, that is. Their reluctance probably goes without saying.] In the meantime, there was a kind of secondary glory that came from being in the company of the truly celebrated, and to his astonishment he was enjoying it.
Besides he was also sitting next to Miss De Syn, and the envy of the rest of the audience was so palpable he could taste it, which was more than he could do with the bagful of fluffy white starchy things he'd been given to eat.
On his other side, the horrible Dibbler man was explaining the mechanics of moving pictures in the utterly mistaken belief that the Patrician was listening to a word of it.
There was a sudden roar of applause.
The Patrician leaned sideways to Dibbler.
'Why are all the lamps being turned down?' he said.
'Ah, sir,' said Dibbler, 'that is so you can see the pictures better.'
'Is it? One would imagine it would make the picutres harder to see,' said the Patrician.
'It's not like that with moving pictures, sir,' said Dibbler.
'How very fascinating.'
The Patrician leaned the other way, to Ginger and Victor. To his mild surprise they were looking extremely tense. He'd noticed that as soon as they had walked into the Odium. The boy looked at all the ridiculous ornamentation as if it was something dreadful, and when the girl had stepped into the pit proper he'd heard her gasp.
They looked as though they were in shock.
'I expect this is all perfecly common place to you,' he said.
'No,' said Victor. 'Not really. We've never been in a proper picture pit before.'
'Except once,' said Ginger grimly.
'Yes. Except once.'
'But, ah, you make moving pictures,' said the Patrician kindly.
'Yes, but we never see them. We just see bits of them, when the handlemen are gluing it all together. The only clicks I've ever seen were on an old sheet outdoors,' said Victor.
'So this is all new to you?' said the Patrician.
'Not exactly,' said Victor, grey-faced.
'Fascinating,' said the Patrician, and went back to not listening to Dibbler. He had not got where he was today by bothering how things worked. It was how people worked that intrigued him.

[Transcriber's note: I find it fascinating that His Lordship later proves vulnerable to the magic of Holy Wood. This is one of the very few books in which other characters are actually more on top of events than he is.] Back to the Top


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