Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Blue Dragon by Robert Lepage, Marie Michaud and Fred Jourdain

The lives of three people intersect in contemporary China, offering each other unexpected solutions to their separate troubles. 50-year-old Pierre Lamontagne, originally from Quebec, owns an art gallery in Shanghai. Xiao Ling is his lover as well as an artist. Claire Foret attended art school with Pierre and reconnects with him while briefly in China to adopt a child.

Fred Jourdain's coloured ink brushwork varies from classic elegance to modern vibrancy. View this stunning art at Jourdain's website here. It evokes both the setting and the shifting moods of the story, which was adapted from Robert Lepage and Marie Michaud's trilingual stage play, Le Dragon bleu. Some Mandarin dialogue is included in the graphic novel (with translation by Min Sun).

The prologue is a brief lesson in Chinese calligraphy, starting with the character for one, a horizontal stroke that resurfaces in a crucial plot point. Other calligraphy characters also relate to the story: an abandoned child; a desperate woman; "the rushing waters of a great river as it divides into three gorges like a single story with three possible endings." And The Blue Dragon does indeed have three alternate endings, so you can take your pick. It's a jaw-dropping masterpiece.

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