Lena and I saw the Watchmen last night. After 2 hours and forty minutes of sitting through that movie, at the end all I wanted to was… stay in my seat and see it again, and maybe one more time after that.
I loved the books when they first came out back in 1986 and ’87, and I suppose I had been waiting for this movie to arrive ever since. Somehow, I’m really glad it took this long.
Alan Moore, the writer of the Watchmen, was completely against this movie ever being made. In fact, he wrote the work as a sort of “anti-movie.” His intention was to really drive at the things about storytelling in a comic book that the format did the best, did better than other mediums. Especially movies.
Moore had said that Watchmen was designed to be read four or five times, with readers carefully teasing out the story elements and relationships of the work. He felt that a movie, where the viewer sat passively while the images were breathlessly flung at him all in one streaming burst, was an entirely inappropriate medium for his deliberately constructed tale. Happily, Moore was not right.
As I said, I loved the Watchmen books, and I loved the movie for all the same reasons. Beautiful characters, lovingly written, and smartly realized move about a world that seems like it could have been real. For me the central conceit of the Watchmen was always how real-life super-heroes would affect the psyches of not only the world, but of the heroes themselves. The story (movie and books) drags you into it’s world, forcing you to confront the challenges it presents on it’s turf, not yours. Leaving the theater was sort of like walking back onto dry land after an extended time at sea.
What I had sort of forgotten about was that the over-arching plot of the Watchmen story isn’t really what it’s about. It is just a device used to tell the stories of these characters, people who have had greatness thrust upon them and are, to varying degrees, out of touch with their humanity as a result. The real story is watching the Watchmen live their lives, overcoming their demons — or surrendering to them.
I will see this movie again, maybe with luck it’ll coincide with my new TV and Blue-Ray player… both still comfortably off in the future. In all I’m sure I’ll end up watching it four or five times…
And maybe Alan will forgive me for it.