Monday, March 02, 2009

Be Amazed! Watch As Rob Jumps Through Intellectual Hoops In Order To Justify Watching a Movie with Karate Kicks and Explosions!

I've finally found the answer to my Watchmen dilemma. I've been worried about the movie for a while -- not so much because I think it could suck (although it certainly could); I've been more worried that it'll be mediocre -- or even that it'll be good. I've been worried that the images I'll be exposed to through watching the movie will replace the images Moore and Gibbons fired into my brain back when I was in high school. Because of Zack Snyder's avowed fidelity to the source material, I'm actually worried that it will supplant the source material in my head.

I don't think the movie has to be particularly good to do this -- although the better it is, the greater the danger of this happening.

But instead of avoiding it wholesale, I've decided on another approach. Jean-Luc Godard wrote that the best way to criticize a movie is to make another movie, and I'm opting to think of Snyder's Watchmen in that way -- not as an adaptation of Moore & Gibbons's Watchmen, but a restaging of it. Sure, there'll be the visceral thrill of Dr. Manhattan striding across Vietnam, or
Nite Owl and Silk Spectre evacuating a burning building. That seems to be the engine the movie's built upon.

But in watching this restaging of the basic plot, what can I learn about the original? What's missing thematically, that stands out to me? What gets shed without me noticing? What do the emphasized elements say about the mass moviegoing audience versus the comic-book audience of 1985... and the hundreds of thousands of readers since then? I've read a lot of commentary on Watchmen (and even written some for a class a while back); that certainly informed my reading of the book, even if I didn't always agree with its conclusions. Why should a movie be any different?

I'm still going to worry that the next time I read Watchmen, I'll see some of the images from the movie, or hear the actor's voices. I don't want that. But, knowing me, Watchmen is a movie I'll likely watch once. It'll take more that to wipe the comic book images from my mind. They're as indelible as the charred shadow of lovers, embracing when the bomb hits.


1 comment:

tim m said...

The film adaptation will only supplant your own interpretation if it catches your attention (in a good way), in my opinion. Otherwise it's just something to watch and then forget about.
For example, the adaptation of The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis (which I've read numerous times, for better or worse) uses some clever camera shots to emphasize certain plot points which I didn't consider much while reading. On the other hand, the adaptation of Less Than Zero (same author; also read numerous times) changed the ending, and the movie didn't really grab me. So, I still have roughly the same interpretation as before and rarely think about the movie.
I'm curious about the Benjamin Button movie adaptation, which I haven't seen yet. It seems like they took the skeleton of the Fitzgerald story (which is only about 14 pages long) and threw out the original guts, only to replace them with something very different.
(I just finished volunteering at a local film festival - can you tell?)