curiouser and curiouser

Watchmen (complete)

1)     Watchmen as a film only touches upon the history behind the Minutemen and the fates they eventually meet, stories that are quickly concluded in the opening credit montage and several flashbacks but constitute much more of the original graphic novel.  The story has also been transported to modern times to perhaps be more relatable for the audience, who are no longer concerned (hopefully) about all-out nuclear war with Russia.   This relatibility is one of the attempts that the film makes to be more emotionally evocative than the graphic novel, which is drawn in true superhero style and exaggerated enough to free the reader from any lasting attachment to the characters – this can be observed when Nite Owl has to watch his former partner, Rorshach, be killed rather than being in another location as he was in the comic. It’s also an obviously emotional moment when Dr. Manhattan’s former lover rips off her wig and reveals she has terminal cancer at a television studio, in front of a live audience. In the comic, this scene never occurs and the moment of Dr. Manhattan finding out he may be a walking carcinogen is far less dramatic.  Rorschach’s narration is not quite enough to solve the dilemma of adapting character’s thoughts and voices on screen, especially given the fact that graphic novels in the superhero tradition are full of inner monologues and essential third-person narration.

2) Watchmen as a graphic novel is a blend of strict superhero-style panels, excerpts of fictional non-fiction texts, and a comic-within-a-comic that serves as a parallel for what is happening in the primary comic, all mediums that are very difficult to adapt into a film without making some major sacrifices.  Moore’s comic is unique in the way that it incorporates a fair amount of straight textual passages such as pages from Hollis Mason’s autobiography and newspaper articles profiling the megalomaniac and supposed philanthropist Adrian Veidt, a.k.a. Ozymandias.  Reading the whole thing through requires more effort than would a more straightforward superhero comic, or even a less conventional graphic novel such as Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, but the multiple plots and seeming non sequiturs all tie together for a very powerful conclusion. 

3)   Watchmen Wiki  Official film blog site  Not sure how to describe this one, but it’s interactive

I have a great fondness for wikis, so the first link was the most interesting and the only one of the three run by fans rather than official sources – just the fact that regular people unaffiliated with the film or the comics devote their time to this is fascinating to me, and wikis in general are pretty helpful, if not always 100% accurate.

4) After viewing the “unfilmable” films in our class (Tristram Shandy, Adaptation, A Scanner Darkly, Watchmen), which do you think is the most unfilmable? Why?

Tristram Shandy is still far and away the most unfilmable film from this class just because there is too much of Shandy’s introspection to properly convey on screen unless it is done the way Steve Coogan did it – Tristram Shandy as Tristram Shandy, narrating his life and interacting with his past selves as he breaks the fourth wall to address his audience.  These scenes were few and far between, so an entire film shot this way would have been a nightmare to watch – in the context of Michael Winterbottom’s film, this technique works because it is not the sole framing device.  Watchmen is a close second, however, because it is not a straightforward graphic novel – the multiple plots, time skips, flashbacks, inner monologues, Rorschach’s journal entires, and the meta-comic framing of Tales of the Black Freighter make a film adaptation extremely difficult, presenting the question of whether or not it is worth it to compromise the integrity of the original source for the sake of introducing a new audience to the story and earning big Hollywood bucks in the process.  I’m sure Hollywood would argue that I just answered my own question.


Comments on: "Watchmen (complete)" (2)

  1. Nice job. I’m glad you like wikis. I think film wikis are very interesting myself. 10/10. Joseph Byrne.

  2. Nice job. I’m glad you like wikis. I think film wikis are very interesting myself. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog entries. 10/10. Joseph Byrne.

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