July 9, 2008

Random Musing: Watchmen

Since the age of four, I have been a comic book collector. I may have my father to thank for that since he used to read them to me when I was a baby. It is therefore unsurprising to accept that I have plunged into comic book after comic book since I was old enough to read. In the time I have collected comic books, I have read many titles, but the more adult ones, such as Neil Gaiman's legendary Vertigo-imprint "Sandman," have evaded my notice. I only preferred the simple stories - Superman saves the world! or Batman's "Knightfall" (one of my favorite storylines... ask me about it!). Finally, last summer, I decided to give in and test out some of the classic storylines that are legendary within the comic book industry. I read DC's universal "Crisis on Infinite Earths" (fantastic!) and decided to test out a graphic novel I had heard a little about but had never given a look: "Watchmen." That graphic novel ended up changing the way I thought about comics...
It took me three days to read over 400 pages of well-crafted writing by Alan Moore, but I would never regret a single minute of it. I could not put it down for anything. Afterward, I posted a note on my Facebook page that I thought I would share again here:

I have had the pleasure of reading what I would consider to be the greatest graphic novel in the history of the medium: "Watchmen" by Alan Moore (with illustrations by Dave Gibbons). It delves into complex psychological realms, unearthing the mental and personal trials and tribulations of "costumed heroes" living in a world on the brink of nuclear war and where a "mask killer" is on the loose, knocking off the formerly celebrated heroes. Upon completing the several hundred page novel, I found myself laying on my bed while whispering "wow" over and over unceasingly. For those of you who are curious and would like to read this transcendent masterpiece graphic novel, I would recommend it in the highest regard for its achieved brilliance within the intricate storylines, the wisdom of Moore's parallelisms within the weaving, and the attributes it absorbingly displays.
Just brilliant. I loved reading this graphic novel so much that it quickly became my favorite book of all-time (and I have read some classics!). After reading it last summer, I started to do some research on Google and Wikipedia, and I soon found out that Time Magazine included it on their 2005 list of "the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present." That was no surprise. What did surprise me was that Warner Brothers is apparently making a film adaptation of the graphic novel.
Did that last sentence make you cringe just a bit? It should have, especially if you have admired "Watchmen" like I have. But fear not! Just last night, I happened to be doing my ritual perusing of Wikipedia and found the page discussing the film. I had not thought about the film since last summer and decided to see what was going on with the production as of now. I was surprised. I found that the film had been rescued from "development hell" and had already been filmed by Zack Snyder ("300"). Having made "300" so stylistically rich, Snyder was someone with whom I felt more at ease. I even liked the choice of actors Patrick Wilson ("Little Children," "Phantom of the Opera") as Nite Owl and Jackie Earle Haley (also of "Little Children") as Rorschach. Seeing teaser photos of the actors on the set makes me really happy because I know at least the film's visuals will please me in keeping with the aesthetic of the book.
More importantly though, is the novel's rich writing. This is the part that makes me nervous. How do you take an intricately complex novel and make an equally formidable screenplay? It was done in 1962 when "To Kill a Mockingbird" (arguably one of the best screenplay adaptations of all-time) was made, so I hope it can be done again. It helps to know that the interlaced vignettes featuring the "Tales of the Black Freighter" will be released (animated!) on DVD in 2009 to coincide with the release of the film, especially since they are important as a "foil" for the main story. According to Wikipedia, apparently "The Tales of the Black Freighter DVD will also include "Under the Hood," a documentary detailing the characters' backstories, which takes its cue from Hollis Mason's memoirs in the novel." Along with the actual film's release, "Tales" may be "re-edited back in" to the film's sequence, so the film may end up being a near-perfect adaptation of the graphic novel that I hold so dear.
Having learned all of this, I can say that, in conclusion, I cannot wait for the film's release. At least, I hope it will be on time. Also according to Wikipedia, "on February 8, 2008 (as filming was finishing), Fox launched a lawsuit against Warner Bros., as producer Lawrence Gordon never paid out the studio as he sought a new studio to develop the project." Since filming has finished and DC Direct plans to release the film's action figures (yay!) in 2009, let's hope that its tentative release date of March 6, 2009 sticks.
Who watches the watchmen? I want to.

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