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Netflix Drops Its First Look at Neil Gaiman’s ‘Sandman’

The Sandman arrives, trapped in a magic circle by British magus Roderick Burgess and his Order of Ancient Mysteries occultists.
The Sandman arrives, trapped in a magic circle by British magus Roderick Burgess and his Order of Ancient Mysteries occultists.

Neil Gaiman’s Sandman has arrived and you don’t have to be an early twentieth century occultist to catch him. You do have to have been patient, though. 

It’s been 27 years since Neil Gaiman first started writing the groundbreaking comic series for DC (and later Vertigo), yet no official adaptations of the main storyline have been produced until now. The main reason: It’s complicated.

In the preview, the audience is transported to the night of June 10, 1916, where British magus Roderick Burgess is leading his occult Order of Ancient Mysteries in summoning and imprisoning Death, one of the seven Endless — anthropomorphic personifications of universal human traits; Desire, Despair, etc. Instead of capturing Death in its magic circle, though, it is Dream who drops from the aether. 

Drained from a recent odyssey, Dream was no match for Burgess’s spell that night. Though the sorcerer realizes his mistake, Burgess still steals Morpheus’ ethereal possessions: A red ruby, an alien-like helm and a pouch filled with, what else — sand. Held captive in a crystal prison over the next 70 years, Burgess (and subsequently, his son) attempt to coerce Dream into setting up a trap for his sister, Death, but Dream refuses to speak. On Sept. 14, 1988, after another failed attempt at conversation, Alex, now confined to a wheelchair, scuffed the binding circle, breaking the enchantment, leading to Dream’s escape. 

Got that so far? We haven’t even touched up the strange journey of Morpheus’ sacred objects and how one of them ends up in the hands of one of Lucifer’s demons. The Netflix series will likely spend the season following Dream’s pursuit of these essential items while learning how his captivity altered not only the Dreaming, but the waking world. 

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The Sandman’s cast will include Tom Sturridge as Dream, Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer, Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess and Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven. Executive produced and co-written by Gaiman, Allan Heinberg and David S. Goyer, the series will stick as close as it can to the events that make up the first Sandman graphic novel, Preludes & Nocturnes, and adaptations to the current time. For example, the show begins in 2021 rather than 1989, with Dream now having been imprisoned for 105 years instead of 75 years. Since the comic delighted in non-linear storytelling, it is possible other episodes in the season will feature tales of people coming into contact with Morpheus, his subjects, and the other Endless.

While this Sandman adaptation will be faithful to the graphic narrative, it’s hard to imagine any filmed version coming within a mile of its scope and power. If Netflix’s version of The Sandman even approaches the novel’s incredible depth, it is sure to be an impactful feat and an impressive series.

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