Video: Why Alan Moore's Watchmen is "unfilmable"

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PWEI reference, nice!


I think the 2 meter blue schlong is what made it unfilmable.


Very interesting discussion. Like a comic-oriented version of Every Frame a Painting


I for one really enjoyed the filmed version of it, squid or no squid.


Turn it on and turn it up high…

As a big fan of the Moore graphic novel and not a fan of Zack Snyder’s previous film, “300” (I didn’t read the Miller graphic novel it was based on), I had pretty low expectations for the “Watchmen” film. But I was blown away by it. I don’t think Snyder glorified the violence at all. The only character who seems to get off on it is the Comedian, and he’s quite clearly a psychopath.

The whole film has that Moore-derived overlayering of sadness and fatigue. Even the “good superheroes” are pretty unhappy folks. Obviously a film is not a graphic novel; some of what made the book great had to be dropped in order to make a great movie.


I think that any art interpreted into a new format loses something, and that Watchmen isn’t exceptional in any way except that it’s got more to lose than some other works. The issue is whether the new interpretation adds anything that is born of the new format. But with fans’ obsession with fidelity, it’s hard to get away with much. You’re certainly not going to get far with Zack “Sledgehammers Over Subtlety” Snyder. It was an okay flick, but that’s what dooms it. New medium, new rules, new perspective.

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I’m sure people said LOTR was unfilmable as well.

Count me amongst those who liked The Watchmen film and I read em when they came out and many times again since.


The comic itself is in my top 5 all time comic books. I admit some days its #1, other days its #3.

The movie is in my top 10 comic movies and top 25 films. I really liked it. Its got some flaws and differences I didn’t like changed, but overall its still awesome.


I think he is basically making a lot of the same types of complaints people make when they say a certain book could never be made into a film. They can be made into films, but it’s never going to be the same-- “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is a very different film than the book, but each are great works of art. Yes, some of the detail of The Watchmen comic is lost in the film, but you may as well ‘complain’ that the film has movement and living actors and music, things you can’t get in a printed comic.

I think it was the Cohen brothers who said something like ‘when you read a book, the feeling you get at the end of it should be similar to the feeling you get at the end of the film adaptation, that is the mark of a successful adaptation.’

The funny thing is, when I first read the Watchmen comics back in 1990, I remember thinking “wow this is so detailed and organized. . . it’s like watching a movie!”

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Although I empathize and identify with the continuing analysis of the shortcomings of adaptations (my wife watched High Society on TCM yesterday and I much prefer The Phildelphia Story, itself an adaptation), and this does lay out a reasonable argument for why this particular adaptation story is a special case without arguing that adaptation inherently produces inferior results, I still struggle with the fact that we continue to struggle with this so much.

I remember reading an interview with the Coens about their adaptation of True Grit; one of them said something like “our method was that one of us read the book out loud and the other one typed it up in screenplay format”.

Watchmen, the movie, largely used the same method as Sin City – they used panels from the comic as the storyboards, adapting it as closely as possible scene to scene. Well, with the obvious exceptions of the stuff they changed.

I actually thought the film (which I otherwise didn’t particularly care much for—although it’s possibly the best Snyder film) actually made better sense than the comic-novel’s ending.

(Really. Biologists, geneticists, and anatomists are going to undo what the Smartest Man in the World did there faster than anything Rorschach could haver ever done. And Ozymandias should have known that. Kind of a plot hole, there.)

Sticking it to Manhattan actually makes a ton of sense.


Thanks BB, after reading this thread I know what I’ll be watching tonight*

BTW, I for myself, like Snyder - from Dead on - to me he’s a very “in your face” director, where you know you’re watching one of his films - like JJ, or Raimi, Scorsese, Scott or Tarantino (not that I group them together, just those were the first to come to mind - I guess maybe I gave away my filmography rorschach test*, right?)

  * Pretty punny eh?


300, too. Snyder does very literal adaptations.

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When I saw that mask-ed gentleman
I was imagining no strife
So picture my surprise when he said
"Your lupins or your life!"
It was all part of his plan you see
to bring lupins to the poor
That day when I first saw him
and his gallant horse Concorde

Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore
Distribution of wealth can be a cho-o-o-re
Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore
Distribution of wealth can be a chore


What you and @generic_name touch upon is a very salient point. You cannot transpose stories “faithfully” across media. You can tell the same story, but it is clear that some details will get lost, others come to light. When I think of a good adaptation of a book’s story to a miniseries, I like to think of Shogun, which worked well in both media, or more recently The Night Manager by John Le Carré (who hat a blink and you miss it cameo in the series). Sin City worked because it was adapting a certain style as well as the stories in the comic series. 300 fell flat because it was too much style, though to be honest style is all the original comic had going for it. The story was a macho fantasy turned up to 11.

Very much agreed. Going into it, I was most curious to see if they’d keep the pirate comics, Dr Manhattan’s blue wang, and the giant squid, which is such a ridiculous crisis that I feared it’d derail the movie. Turned out they did a nice job with the pirate comics on the blu-ray, Dr Manhattan’s uh, tower was on full display, and the ending was more elegantly handled than the comic, which was surprising!