Saturday, October 07, 2006


Ah, technology. After being unable to log in for two months, suddenly someone changes something somewhere, and I can write again. The mysteries of using free services on the web.

However, more serious things are afoot and require our attention. Hollywood is about to make a horrible mistake again, and it is time for us, the people, to say no.
No, this time it's not a stupid DRM fiasco, or a call for mandatory execution for copying movies or any other of the current MP*A-projects, but a movie project that simply should not be allowed to happen.
There is a great writer, author, penman, narrator, call it what you will, named Alan Moore. This man did things to the concept of visual storytelling back in the eighties that some of us are still recovering from. There are about half a dozen authors in his particular medium that I have serious respect for, people who as far as I have seen have never written anything bad, they include in no particular order Mr Gaiman, Mr Ellis, Mr Ennis and Mr Miller and a few others who we shall return to at a later time.
Mr Moore and Mr Gaiman in particular have a way of layering information in their works. There is simply so much stuff to take in that you can read and reread their works not just one or five times, but fifteen, and still find new angles and concepts. Every object mentioned or portrayed adds meaning to the whole. An image of a person standing in a gallery of paintings has to be examined carefully as everything in the paintings can be relied upon to affect the story being told. This is genius, as opposed to the general drooling of lesser artists.
Now, Hollywood (not known for its genius content) has decided to once again try to adapt one of Mr Moores works into a film, and this time it is the magnum opus "Watchmen". This will fail.
It will fail in part because it is impossible to make a live action film that actually captures the feeling and essence of a graphic novel, and especially that graphic novel. I have never seen an attempt that works even to a limited degree. The only one I can think of that might come close, and I have not seen that movie myself, is "Sin C*ty" based on a work by Mr Miller. That one may work, as the original presentation is very movie-like, and Mr Miller was deeply involved in the making of that particular movie and the movie as a whole was made outside the normal Hollywood system. I simply love the original, though, which means I will not see the movie. I will not take the risk of having my enjoyment of the stories permanently soiled by lesser visual storytelling.
The other hurdle for "Watchmen" is that Mr Moore writes his stories in a highly non-cinematic way and loads them with details that no movie could possibly convey. It simply cannot be done. The latest attempt to film one of Mr Moores scripts resulted in the movie version of "V for vendetta", where a storyline that would easily have filled four normal written novels (of three hundred pages each) was watered down to its bare essence and then beautifully transferred to film.
To understand the level of watering-down I will now condense the first, fourth, Star W*rs movie to Hollywood specs;
This farmer guy goes into a bar, and wham - zap his friend cuts a guys arm off. Then they pick up a real nice girl, and go into space and shoot at some other guys. A big fella in black is chasing them, and in the end they blow up the empire. There are a couple of shiny robots walking about, and a bear with a gun. The end.
Recognize it? That is roughly how much Hollywood leaves of the original concept when they take a book or a graphic novel and turns it into a movie. That is what happened to "Do androids dream of electric sheep", that is what happened to "I Robot", and that is what happened to all other great books I have read and then tried to watch as movies. Hollywood is REALLY bad at doing these conversions. This has never stopped them from trying, though, and it is thus we get abominations like D*sneys version of "the Hunchback of Notre Dame", where a great tragedy is turned into light banter with singing and tapdancing gargoyles.
The really sad thing is that when the screenwriters start with a clean slate they can make absolutely fantastic movies. It's just a fact that any writer creates his story for the medium at hand. A person writing a book expects the story to be read that way. A person writing a graphic novel has another set of limitations on what can and should be done and how the story should play out. A screenwriter knows that the medium is visual, and tells the story accordingly.
The bottom line is that only we, the viewers, can make Hollywood stop butchering good stories by reducing them to the movie format. Refuse these watered-down products just like you'd refuse watered-down beer in a bar. Demand quality, demand that the screenwriters get to tell their own stories instead of messing up others. I believe that writers like Mr Moore should have a right not to have their creations gutted.
Just say NO when Hollywood tries to sell you their latest conversion, and buy a copy of the original work instead.


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