Friday Face/Off: Alan Moore films
John (bought a V mask in his first year of uni):
After much research, I have determined that none of Alan Moore’s marvellous graphic novels contain a high horse – not as a character, an extra or even an item of scenery. This is unfortunate, because if there’s one thing Moore needs to do it’s learn to get off his. So what if the various films that have been made of his books don’t encompass the full labyrinthine complexity of the source texts? Alan Moore has inspired a series of perfectly acceptable films, and throwing his toys out of his “Neopagan, occultist, ceremonial magician, vegetarian and anarchist” pram (thanks, Wikipedia) doesn’t achieve anything except making even more people notice how direly he needs his wife to come back and drag him to the barber. Have a trim, Alan, and hop over to the IMAX to watch Watchmen. It’s great.
Jonny (has a home-made Alan Moore wig):
So Moore’s something of a massive weirdo, ok. And he does rather throw a hissy when they adapt his movies, granted. My problem with the movies, though, is that they are steaming piles of excrement. If you can’t capture the incredible depth of an author’s work, that’s forgivable, but turning The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen from a hilarious and intricate exploration of Victorian literature into a sub-par pseudo-steampunk piece of action drivel seems to me to indicate a certain lack of literacy. The same with all of them: From Hell starts out linking the Ripper killings with masonic imagery and the very substance of London and gets turned into a slasher flick starring Bilbo Baggins with a knife. Don’t even get me started on V, which strays so far from its original form (essentially a complex anarchist tract dealing with the failing of the Thatcherite thinking) that it ends up with the startling moral “Tyranny’s pretty bad, right?”. They’re bad films and they’re intellectually insulting.
D’you know what’s intellectually insulting? The entire cinematic community giving John Travolta another chance on the basis of his piss-poor performance in Pulp Fiction. Compared to that, the one-note message of V for Vendetta is inconsequential. The League was unforgivable, obviously it was, but you name me one incisive literary work which didn’t suffer a single unfortunate cut during its transition to the silver screen and I’ll call you a pig’s bladder on a stick. Moore’s visceral, all-encompassing work was made for graphic novels, and I suspect we all know that it should have been left in Forbidden Planet where it belongs, but when judged on their own merits the films he inspired are very watchable. Would you really want to live in a world where you’d never seen the Bailey go up in slow motion or watched Dr Manhattan conjure the Glass Palace? Nobody’s comparing the books with the films, but by and large they complement each other well.
Fine, you want to keep it to the films? How’s about the ten-minute slow-motion sex scene set to Hallelujah in the middle af Watchmen? In fact how about all the unnecessary slow motion in that film – it was too long as it was, and slowing everything down just felt like adding insult to injury. Maybe we should mention the atrocious writing that the Wachowski Brothers spurted all over the screenplay for V (“I fell in love with you, Evey”), changing the righteous(?) terrorist quoting Hamlet into a superhero just saying words beginning with the letter v over and over again. And the less said about the explosive diarrhoea clusterfuck that was the League. It wasn’t even fun nonsense: can anyone tell me what the point was of the car chase through the collapsing Venice? Or even what happens in it? No, because it managed to confuse the hell out of everyone, especially itself.
Oh, you did not just go there. Fuck. OFF! Every sexual encounter I’ve had since I first saw Watchmen has been held up to the harsh and unforgiving light of that sex scene, and each has been found wanting – until I get my rocks off in a hovering owlplane with a malfunctioning flamethrower, I’m not going to be happy. And of course Watchmen played out at an agonising crawl – have you not met Zack Snyder before? Dan and Laurie had as much chance of getting through that shag without some Snyder Slo-Mo™ as Sean Connery had of getting through the media circus for the League with his shaky dignity intact. In other news, V’s convoluted and theatrical dialogue might have translated into a stage play, but do you seriously think it could keep a cinema audience’s attention? The Wachowskis (they’re not brothers any more) transformed the story with the film’s audience in mind, and they could have done a significantly worse job.
Motherfucker, that sex scene was so fundamentally unerotic that at every showing of that film there has ever been 1.8 audience members lose the ability to orgasm. I’ll admit Zack Snyder was never going to not slow it down to an agonising crawl, but in that case DON’T GIVE HIM A SUPER-LONG STORY. There was enough good writing in there, it was just sooooo faaaar apaa*camera angle change*aaaart that it lost all impact. The only Alan Moore sex scene I want to see on the big screen is the Invisible Man being taken up the arse by Mr Hyde: that would be worth seeing. And is really so much to ask to see a bit of the paedophile priest from V? Or the bit where V sends a dude to the Doll version of Auschwitz? I think this is my real objection, it’s not just that the films are shit, though they are. I mean, I really enjoy a good shit film every now and then. My problem is that they’ve been so sanitized by Hollywood that so many of the good bits are gone. Plus, there is NO EXCUSE for having John Hurt in a film and only putting him in three scenes.
Agreed. But whoever thought of casting John Hurt as Big Brother was ON IT. Can we at least agree on the fact that even if they films oughtn’t to have been made, they still have worthwhile moments? The filmed version of the Comedian facing down his pregnant Vietnamese girlfriend was given a delicious viscerality which the graphic novel could never have approached, and Stephen Rea’s Inspector Finch was great even if he never dropped acid at Larkhill. They’ll always be poor relations, but the Alan Moore adaptations are here to stay and they’re not totally devoid of worth.
Fair enough. Much as I long to see them done right, at least they’re out there, and have sent a lot of people towards the comics who would never otherwise have checked them out. And if nothing else, we can definitely agree that Alan Moore has a really silly beard.
Amen. Even after creating such a phenomenally inventive variety of morally ambiguous characters, the greatest mystery is what his chin looks like.