Saturday, March 07, 2009

"I'm not locked in here with you, YOU'RE locked in here with ME!!"

Otherwise known as the best line in the movie/comic and spoken by our favorite character, Rorschach (played by a brilliant Jackie Earle Haley who so boldly and uncannily embodied Rorschach that I can't imagine that had Terry Gilliam's directed the movie, he would have been played by Robin Williams), the most compelling and complete of all the characters in The Watchmen series, if you ask us. The movie was very good- for what it was able to do. The last time I felt vaguely the same way was when we watched the film version of my favorite novel, Possession and hated it. Like The Watchmen, I think it's unfilmable. Layered storylines, narratives within narratives, flashbacks, complex characterization- all things that are hard to capture on film no matter how advanced your CG or skillful your editing. To make The Watchmen work on film, the film-makers had no choice but to pick out the master narrative from the lot and concentrate on that, but in the process, lose the depth, complexity, and intensity that is so much a part of why we love the comic (or comics, depending on how you look at it).

I genuinely appreciate how faithfully Zack Synder abided by the aesthetic of the narrative- to the point of being almost too much of a moving storyboard for some very iconic frames of the comic. Meaning the movie managed to capture the devastating vision of the story, but not quite its tragic soul. Constrained by the film medium, it left me just a little cold at the end, and not quite with the all-consuming bitterness and bleakness I actually felt in a very real way at the end of my challenging week-long struggle with reading it (let's just say it's not the best thing to set aside for bedtime reading if you want to be flipping back and forth between pages, looking for hidden connections, and drawing connections between the various narratives- an experience I re-visted last night at 4 in the morning after returning from our midnight IMAX advanced screening.).

Whether or not you've read the comic, I'd still recommend that you watch the movie- it did the best it could given the difficulty of the source material and I'm glad we saw it. But for those of you who haven't read it, please don't take the movie as a representation of what The Watchmen is- it's so so so much more than the film, and then some...


the terrible child said...

totally understand the part about its not meant for bedtime reading. it is SO NOT bedtime reading!

John said...

Hi guys--

That favourite line of yours also features in the song "Kidnapped," by the Mekons, on the album Honky Tonkin', released in 1987. Don't know who thought of it first, though.