Annotations for “The Flame of Remorse Returns” 8 pages in Cinema Purgatorio #3
Writer: Alan Moore, Artist: Kevin O’Neill
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Note: Some of this is obvious, but you never know who’s reading and what their exposure is. If there’s anything we missed or got wrong, let us know in comments.
General: The unnamed protagonist watches “The Flame of Remorse Returns” a time-twisting serial episode.
Cover – no specific annotations
- This is the first showing of entirety of the words “Cinema Purgatorio.”
- ” 3′- ” (actually “3/-“) is three shillings, about 15p (or roughly 10 U.S. cents) in today’s money.
- Panelwise, the framing sequence gutters have gradually straightened out since their initial curvy appearance in issue #1.
- The ticket frames the woman’s eye on the right.
- “Roy Flicker” apparently refer to “flickers” a common slang term for older movies.
- “The Glory That Was Rome” was apparently the name of the unnamed epic film in Cinema Purgatorio #2.
- “Eternal Pictures” with the heavenly gates continues a theme of the viewer perhaps being dead – see issue #2 P8,p4-5.
- “Colourless” seems like a play on the black and white printing of Cinema Purgatorio.
- A “serial” is a type of short ongoing cliffhanger film popular in the early 20th Century. Moore and O”Neill traffic in familiar serial characters: hero, heroine, villain, and henchmen.
In some way serials parallel the relatively-immature comics of the 1930s through the 1960s (and, frankly, even to today.) The stories are shallow, formulaic, full of fist-fighting, and the cliffhanger endings are “to be continued.”
- The credits are a standard movie trope, typical for serials, too.
- “Kay Terry” may refer to actress Sheila Terry whose who was born Kay Clark.
- “Joe Casey” is, perhaps unrelatedly, the name of a comics writer.
- Each serial episode includes text recapping the dynamics of the cliffhanger ending of the prior episode. (Comics do a lot of this.)
- “Vanish gun” is an example of a serial trope where nefarious inventors create fictitious science weapons.
- After the text recap, serials show a brief excerpt repeating a minute or so of the actions leading into the cliffhanger ending. These two panels were likely part of prior episode.
- “I’d thought we were higher up than that” points out the movie’s continuity error. Somewhat typically characters escape the cliffhanger through conditions not revealed in the earlier episode, though it is rarely as blatant as this.
- “Eason’s” may be a nod to (critique of) the Irish stationery and book retailer.
- “The Flame of Remorse can never be extinguished” sounds like a repeated catchphrase, similar to “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.”
- “Secret mineshaft” is a common serial villain hideout trope.
- The Flame’s car resembles a black Packard. According to Wikipedia:
[Studios making serials] saved money by reusing the same cliffhangers, stunt and special effect sequences over the years. …The same model cars and trains went off the same cliffs and bridges. Republic had a Packard limousine and a Ford Woodie station wagon used in serial after serial so they could match the shots with the stock footage from the model or previous stunt driving.
- One example of the oft-appearing Packard is King of the Rocketmen, part 1 (a serial that inspired Dave Stevens’ Rocketeer comics.)
- The car chase (on a winding mountain road) is another serial film trope. One example is in King of the Rocketmen, part 2 (starting at 10:45.)
- A car, especially a Packard, going off a cliff is another serial film trope. One example is in King of the Rocketmen, part 1 (starting at 2:55.)
- This panel repeats P3,p8 exactly. This repetition alludes to studio production practices that saved money by including the same footage in multiple series. Serial scene repetition also occurs to recap a character’s escape from a cliffhanger ending.
Moore and O’Neill are playing with serial movie scene repetition as a superpower to consciously “expand time” (which is essentially what the studios were doing by repeating footage.)
Moore played with a somewhat analogous “nested time” (including repeated scenes) in Providence #5 and #6.
- Showing the hero escaping is a very common trope shown at the beginning of a serial episode. The escape scene is omitted in the end of the earlier episode (in this case P3,p8 through P4,p2 above) then at the beginning of the next episode the scene is repeated with additional footage showing how the hero escapes what appeared to be certain death.
- This panel repeats p1 above – again referencing how serials repeat footage.
- These criminals are expressing their remorse – apparently this is caused by the Flame of Remorse.
- This panel echoes the layout and some dialogue from p3 above, indicating the story is in another time loop.
- The panel repeats the two central figures and the rest of the dialogue from P5,p3 above.
- The dialogue repeats from P5,p4 above.
- These repeat Page 5, panels 5-7 above – again referencing how serials repeat footage.
- The villain Casey is again expressing remorse.
- “Unforgivable sins” echoes a theme of death and purgatory. See P1,p5 above.
- “There’s no way out” describes both the villains plight and the apparent inescapable nature of the heroes’ apparent cliffhanger deaths.
- This depicts a somewhat over-the-top but still typical serial cliffhanger ending.
- “Th-that’s disturbing…” is unnamed narrator’s thoughts.
- “The idea of someone following you…” is the unnamed narrator sympathizing with the serial villain. This is unusual as the viewer typically identifies with the hero.
- These are previews – another example of studios repeatedly using the same footage.
- Nitpick: The frame around “Will the bullion be filched?” should probably have the same special framing as “with the flame… hang himself?” and “what is the… vanish gun?” in the prior two panels.
- Flight of the Bumblebee is rapidly-paced piece of classical music, written by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
- “It… colours the whole atmosphere” contrasts with the black and white of serial films and of Purgatorio printing.
- It is not entirely clear, but the so-far unnamed and undepicted narrator is apparently female. This appears to be her hand (with an apparent wedding ring) opening the door to the ladies bathroom.
- “Serve your sentence” alludes to purgatory, where sinning souls suffer before going to heaven