Until Death Do Us Part - Jonas

Khamis, Mac 05, 2009

#211. Berita Filem : Watchmen on the silver screen

Alan Moore’s one-of-a-kind graphic novel Watchmen has finally found its way onto the silver screen.

Being a vigilante with noble intent – to serve all that is good and right – is an idea that has prevailed in comic books right from the start. Even if these caped crusaders ignore the law, they are regarded as heroes nonetheless.Then we have Watchmen, the renowned 1986 graphic novel written by Alan Moore, illustrated by Dave Gibbons, which adapts the superhero types, only to twist them into something much more sinister and sombre.

Watchmen revolves around a group of masked men and women who have taken it upon themselves to protect their neighbourhood. These people with extreme personalities formed a league in 1940 called Minutemen, which was continued by the younger generation (known as Watchmen) right into the Vietnam War and well into the 1980s.

Over the years, however, people have begun to become wary of these costumed avengers. Far from being celebrated, these costumed heroes have become objects of suspicion and ridicule. They are feared, ignored, and ultimately asked, “Who watches the Watchmen?” as they keep taking the law into their own hands, with sometimes dire consequences. Hence, one day they’re forced to hang up their masks for good. Sadly this situation has caused more damage than expected with these people and some of them find it hard to get back to normal life.

On one level, the story is really a microscopic examination of what happens if costumed fighters do exist set in an alternate 1985 in the United States, where Richard Nixon is still President for more than three terms.

On another, it’s a murder mystery as the former masked heroes are being offed one by one. The novel also touches on politics as the United States and Russia are on the brink of a nuclear war.

There’s also ... erm, actually there are far too many layers to the novel. Each panel is compact and filled with so many characters and subplots (stories within stories within stories) that it’s quite a strenuous exercise to complete even just one chapter, as absorbing as the novel is.

hus, it makes perfect sense that Watchmen has been the only graphic novel to ever receive a Hugo Award, annually given out for best science fiction or fantasy works.

For 23 years it seemed as if the graphic novel was unfilmable. According to one Los Angeles Times report, early screenplay costs and abandoned preproduction fees have totalled close to US$10mil, and no fewer than four studios have worked on the movie over the decades, including 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros, Paramount and Universal. Forsaken film adaptations, it was reported, include versions from directors Terry Gilliam (Brazil), Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum) and screenwriter David Hayter (X-Men), with countless script revisions along the way.

The project finally landed with Watchmen fan Zack Snyder (of 300 fame). But just months before the release of the film, it became embroiled in a court case (between Fox and Warner Brothers) which ended with an understanding that would benefit all parties involved.

Despite its popularity worldwide, most of the actors portraying the characters in the book had very little knowledge of it.

In an interview provided by the film distributor United International Pictures (UIP), Billy Crudup who stepped into the role of Dr Manhattan (a blue being and the only super-powered hero in the book) was quoted as saying: “I was sent the script and told that it was based on a graphic novel, and I had all my pre-conceived notions of what the script was going to be like. (But) within the first couple of pages, it was clear that this was a different kind of endeavour with a lot of complexity and sophistication. And so, I think that immediate surprise with the material ignited my interest pretty early on.”

He added: “It imagines what people who dress up to fight crime might actually be like. What, psychologically, would be going on in someone who decided to dress up in a costume and take on thugs? There are obviously some people who are mentally imbalanced and sociopathic, and they’re not all fighting for truth, justice and the American way. I thought that was a really exciting idea to start a superhero myth story.”

Crudup’s co-star Matthew Goode read Beano and Dandy but not many other comic books when he was growing up; of Watchmen he had no inkling at all. After reading it through, Goode had only one reaction: “It was quite jaw-dropping really. It’s so intelligently written and complicated and pertinent to a lot of stuff that’s still going on today.”

In the film, Goode portrays Ozymandias, the world’s smartest man who has honed his physical capabilities to be extraordinary. “I had no conception of what was going on when I auditioned. I was thinking who on Earth would cast me in that role? I don’t know anything about him, I’m 15 years too young and I’m not blond and I am pretty scrawny.”

Well, Snyder did, and Goode had to get into shape for Ozymandias’ athletic physique. Before the shoot, he underwent a fitness and training regime, three times a day.

If Goode found the physical aspect of his character tough, Crudup was at a disadvantage when it came to finding Dr Manhattan’s voice. Crudup explained: “It is a weird thing, as an actor, to not be able to connect the voice and the body, and so to never have been in possession of the body that this voice is supposed to come out of is a really strange balancing act.”

The cast and crew spent six months in Vancouver shooting the film, and it has been a labour of love for all of them. Snyder’s vision of the film is said to be a faithful version of the book. There are some bits that have been left out, but hopefully, the movie has integrated the novel’s spirit.

Crudup concluded: “(Watchmen) aspires to a level of complexity and sophistication that appears infrequently in this genre. ... This script certainly did it for me but there is no way of knowing how a script will translate into a finished product. For sure, I am not a filmmaker and don’t have that ability so I don’t know how it will translate, but my suspicion is that they gave it a good chance.”

Watchmen opens at cinemas nationwide today.

Source :
The Star

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