Who watches the movie-makers?

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Watchmen movie website screenshot

Some things are special to you. For me there is a wide range of works of art that stand very nicely on their own without people trying to improve on them like the original 3:10 To Yuma, Sergio Leone’s Dollar’s trilogy and Once Upon a Time in The West, anything Akira Kurosawa shot with Toshiro Mifune, Seijun Suzuki’s Tokyo Drifter, Wong Kar Wai’s In The Mood for Love, Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig and Alan Moore’s comics.

I grew up with V for Vendetta and Watchmen so there is a strong emotional attachment for me in those comics. To give you an idea of the cultural impact that Watchmen had on its release; Bomb the Bass used the smiley image above for the sleeve of the single Beat Dis and Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons is thanked in the sleeve notes of the Into the Dragon album.

The Beat Dis single sleeve was co-opted and that was how the smiley face became the inane grin of acid house and raves appearing on record sleeves, event flyers, t-shirts, bandanas and the blotting paper of LSD tabs.

As a reader I found that the first time I enjoy the multi-layered plots and action, each time I then revisit Moore’s comics I see a further layer of connections and what some people describe as ‘Easter eggs’, though in fact they are right in front of your eyes all the time.

This means that Moore’s works don’t translate all that well to film. V felt very ‘choppy’ where an obvious editors hand had tried to compress the film and many of the crucial plot devices that sewed the story together were lost – most noticably the reason why Scarlet Carson roses were so important. The League of Extraordinary Gentleman was virtually unrecognisable from the comics and looked like a drunken fancy dress party.

It is with considerable concern that I await the film version of Watchmen. I am sure that the green screen techniques can render a passable visual interpretation of the comic: film adaptations of Frank Miller’s Sin City and 300 proved that, but will the ‘soul’ of Watchmen transfer to the screen or will the film be a shallow interpretation of the comic? in the comic the following question constantly appears on graffitti and protestor banners which ask ‘who watches the watchmen?’ I think we need to change it out and ask the more pertinent question of who watches the movie makers?

The film is due out in March 6, 2009 according to the official website.