Sunday, March 8, 2009

Dear Makers of Watchmen

fuck you.

It wasn't that bad, except for using the fucking WTC Twin Towers like a dancing corpse. Especially the first scene they're in, with a goddamn blimp flying towards them in slow motion. Not subtle, not fucking ok. Watchmen is set in a slightly alternate timeline, there was no requirement for the towers to even exist in that world.
The wannabe hamfisted homage to Apocalypse Now was also just... amateurish.
N yeah, no squid = you fucked up.

It could have been decent. But to be so graphic with the violence then change the end and leave the squid and corpses out of it...... means you just don't get it.

Don't put the Twin Towers in your movies, Hollywood. It's fucking stupid.

Just to clarify, I'm not talking about occasional brief shots of the skyline with the towers in the background for period authenticity. They're being used for psychological effect, with obvious intent. I forgot the towers were in the mini-series, so I was wrong about them being an addition, but they're not just part of the scenery, is my point. Gibbons wasn't using them to reference 9/11.


Anonymous said...

It's set in the 80s. Why wouldn't the Twin Towers be there?

brad said...

Why would they?
The skyline shots were computer generated, and no one would have noticed if they'd decided the towers hadn't been built in the Watchmen world or just to not fucking show them.
The makers of the shitpile felt like 9/11 cast a shadow over the film, so they put the fucking towers in.
Me, I think the whole 3000 people dead, two wars begun, and the Bush monarchy enabled were kinda more important effects of 9/11 than how some Hollywood douches felt.
It was completely, utterly unnecessary. I'm not talking about one or two quick shots, but half a dozen+ long, lingering shots where the towers are in the dead center of the frame.

Anonymous said...

Well, I haven't seen the movie yet, but flipping through my well-thumbed copy of the book, I see that artist Dave Gibbons drew the Twin Towers in a number of sequences. It sounds like the filmmakers may have attempted to amp up the resonance of these images, but they're there in the original source material. So the choice was to acknowledge them or eliminate them. Either choice would have rubbed people the wrong way.

As for the squid, what is it that you think the filmmakers "don't get"?

brad said...

I forgot that part of the GN, but it's hard to convey the heavy-handedness it's done with. Like putting them dead center frame for a few seconds, then panning down to the Comedian's funeral.

The absence of the corpses is what I think they don't get. I've read interviews where they talk about how they wanted to show the costs of violence but after 9/11 were hesitant to bodies lying in NYC streets.
Instead, they show the shadows of people being lifted up by a brilliant light, then disappearing.
It's anti-septic, and the complete opposite of what those images in the book were about, to me.
I'm not a critic or a megafanboy of the series, I just think the ending is majorly compromised. The action sequences are brutally violent, but there's no bodies, just a big empty crater in the middle of Manhattan.
I felt like they were trying to use 9/11 to paper over their unwillingness to show the Holocaust type footage that faithfulness to the ending would have required. Even in comic book form those images were hard to digest, they were supposed to be hard to digest.
Leaving the squid out was a smaller part of that decision, in that they couldn't vaporize the city and have the squid.

Matt said...

It was set in the mid-80s.

That's all.

Anonymous said...

No, fuck you. The towers were built in 1971. Watchmen took place in a fictional 1985 New York. The tower scenes were one thing that actually made sense in the context of the story.

McArdle sucks hard indeed, but understanding that does not make you immune to suckiness yourself.

Matt said...

"Me, I think the whole 3000 people dead, two wars begun, and the Bush monarchy enabled were kinda more important effects of 9/11 than how some Hollywood douches felt."

And you wonder why the phrase "Bush Derangement Syndrome" was bandied about in the first place...

brad said...

Go see it and get back to me.
To repeat, it's not being used as scenery for period authenticity, but as a blunt weapon for a crude emotional response.
There's a big difference between "hey, it was there" and "let's put it in every outdoors shot in the entire fucking movie".
Like I said, I was wrong that they weren't in the series, but that doesn't change the problem with how their image was used.

Matt said...

With all due respect, I'm not going back and rewatching anything. It was set in the mid-1980s. The WTC stood in the 1980s. You can't make a movie about NYC set in a pre-2001 era without showing the WTC (it shows up in everything from Wall Street to Half-Baked, for fuck's sake).

Hell, Life on Mars used a computer-generated shot of the WTC in the premiere in a much more crass manner than anything in Watchmen, and even that didn't leave me foaming at the mouth.

brad said...

Is there a reason you refuse to take my point?
It's not that they used its image. It's how they used its image, and the frequency. I've lived in NYC since before the towers fell. You could look up without seeing them.

And if you think me saying fuck means I'm foaming at the mouth, then why the fuck are you here?

Dhalgren said...

Well hold on a moment -

I understand the anger triggered by a film repeatedly showing the twin towers.

Brad, you're saying that the filmmakers did this intentionally to emotionally manipulate the audience?

How about we compare those shots to other films that invoked 9/11.

The 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002). Although it has no direct connection to the plot, we keep seeing shots of the 'bathtub' as Ed Norton's character grumbles something like 'look what they did to my effing city' (the story is about him going to prison, not 9/11, and not 'the city').

War of the Worlds (Stephen Speilberg, 2005). Tom Cruise's character gets covered in ashes, not by collapsing towers, but by the incinerated remains of human beings. But still the image of him covered in dust invokes 9/11. Then the screenwriter and Speilberg take it a step further by showing 'missing' posters all over the place, that look just like the ones shown around the WTC and St. Vincent's Hospital.

I would think that those other two examples are far, far worse.

I still need to read Watchman and I will eventually see the movie.

But take it from a Lehman douchebag who was on floor 40 when Flight 11 struck and shook the North Tower. I'm not sure that a lot of shots of the WTC are going to push people's buttons, unless it was done to manipulate emotions.

If so, then that's cheap.

And a different ending just blows. Imagine the outcry if any of the Harry Potter movies had an ending totally different from the book.

brad said...

Put it this way; there are 4-5 instances of their image being used in far more blatant a manner than those two you described. Just to begin, in each of the shots the towers are dead center frame.
The first is the scene in the office I've mentioned, where the towers are in the background, and there's a goddamn blimp flying towards them, slowly.
Second is the intro to a funeral I also mentioned.
Third is just before and once or twice during the mini nuclear explosion in midtown. (And while they were hesitant to show bodies in the city streets, they weren't hesitant to show the buildings around Times Sq collapsing.)
Fourth is panning down from the towers to the smoking hole in midtown.

It's not really worth all the words I've spent on it here, but whatevah, it was a very bad choice for the moviemakers to make.

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm "Anonymous" in the first two posts--but not the others--and I just saw the film. I pretty much had the opposite reaction that Brad did. The first shot of the blimp floating towards the towers occurs in the background as Ozymandias is discussing his desire to make the world a better place. This is not a subtle bit of foreshadowing, but for me, it worked. One could argue that it exploits the events of 9/11 for some emotional manipulation, but keep in mind that this is a film that has costumed heroes participating in the Kennedy assassination (in gory detail) as well as various Vietnam War atrocities.

I'm wondering, Brad, if you feel the same way about the film's use of those other terrible historical events. Those strike me as far more provocative then the use of the period-specific Towers in a few background shots.

brad said...

If you mean to suggest it's a historical event and it's going to be culturally referenced, anon, then point taken. It could well be that 20 or 30 years from now Watchmen comes off as comparatively restrained.
I was mildly bugged by the twist on the flower in the gun scene, and the added "lesbian whores" murder shot. The JFK thing... you tell me, was that in the book? I don't remember it.
If it had just been in the background of one or two shots, or had been used in a more considered and meaningful way just once, say at the end, to contrast the destruction in midtown with future tragedies prevented, then I wouldn't have been upset.

brad said...

Dhalgren was trying to make that point, too, probably.
Anyways, enough of this pointless babble. I admit it was a mildly stupid rant to get into in public, at least without buying a new copy of the comic n flipping through it first, but I still think they over- and misused the image of the towers.

Anonymous said...


Dhalgren said...

From brad's description, it sounds like they were overused - like a historic footnote being slammed on the heads of the audience again and again. I need to rush out and see it for myself then.

clever pseudonym said...

I have nothing to add, other than the fact that you can easily make a movie set in NYC before 9/11 and not show the Towers. If it took place in, say, Hell's Kitchen (or Clinton or whatever it's called these days), it would be idiotic to have a shot of southern Manhattan in the film. I really only wanted to remark on how funny it is to see a person hysterically typing in all caps telling someone else to "get a grip," especially in response to something that's nothing more than a personal reaction to comic book movie.