What We Talk About When We Talk About Watchmen
For fans of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen graphic novel, the anticipation for Zack Snyder's upcoming big-screen adaptation has resulted in new heights of obsessive speculation, fueled by the nearly 30 minutes of advance footage screened for select media last week. (You can get a detailed recap of that footage here.) Movies Without Pity's site director Daniel Manu and editor Zach Oat were somehow invited to one of those screenings and simply can't stop talking about it. For those whose internal doomsday clocks are also counting down to March 6, 2009, we present the first installment of their Watchmen dialogues. Pray for their loved ones.
Dan: So, Zach, in all of the discussion around this Watchmen movie, going back to even before Zack Snyder's first presentation about it at San Diego Comic-Con in July '07, one of the recurring themes has been just how faithful this film was going to be to the graphic novel. Zack made it clear that the book was more important to him during production than the actual screenplay; every major cast member who appeared in San Diego this past summer talked about their adulation for the comic; people on the film's crew read it, etc. So, therefore, the first thing I was really struck by when I saw the advance footage was just how different this movie appears to be from the graphic novel. It's not literally a panel-by-panel adaptation -- as the teaser trailer may have implied -- but actually Zack's own personal interpretation of the material. What are you thoughts about that?
Zach: Honestly, some of the most exciting stuff I saw was the stuff that wasn't exactly like the comic book -- stuff that was largely taken from the text of Under the Hood, which we were seeing visualized for the first time in any medium. The stuff that was made to look exactly like the comic book made me say, "Eh." I mean, it looked fantastic, but it didn't get me like seeing things I'd never, ever seen before. I know at least one person who wasn't impressed with the preview footage we saw, who particularly didn't like the shot of Dr. Manhattan's first appearance in the cafeteria, hovering over everybody. In the comic book they do a much better job of making it seem like he was godlike and that they were looking up at him. In the movie, it's not a vertical shot, it's a horizontal shot, so his head and feet are, you know, barely inside the frame, and he's kind of facing off to one side, and you never actually get someone's point of view -- at least in the footage we were shown -- you never get anyone's point of view of what he looks like to them when he appears. But those are all nitpicks as far as I'm concerned.