Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My thoughts on the Watchmen

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Current mood: thoughtful
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Mark and I went to see The Watchmen tonight. Be forewarned, there are bound to be some serious spoilers, so if you're looking to see the movie-- read this -afterwards-.

That said, we went up to Dothan, and much like they had for Coraline, they had the theatre all decked out (: The windows were painted with a city scape. There was the smiley face with the blood. In the lobby, there was a body tape and marked off area, with Watchmen in the form. And a real police officer took our ticket stub.

....When we left the theatre, Mark asked me what I thought of the movie.

So what you're about to get are the impressions of someone who has never read the graphic novel. Nor seen the comics. Nor really heard much about this movie previous to about 3 days ago.

The first words out of my mouth, immediately after being asked were, "I can only hope that no third party decides to make peace for us."

And then a long pause.

A very long pause.

My thoughts were heavy in my mind as I tried to sift them out into words that could be expressed.

Visually speaking, this is an amazing movie. Not appropriate for children-- and to be honest, the graphic nature of the sex made several grown ups in the audience uncomfortable. But lets face it, sometimes sex is funny. And sometimes it's uncomfortable. And it's amazing how even a society filled with prudish people can be taught to be quickly comfortable with nudity, if the people being nude are comfortable with their own nakeness.

There were so many scenes I thought to myself "I've seen that painting!" or "I've seen that scuplture!" It was -alive- with art! And the puns and references! I want to see the movie again just to see if I can find more of them-- understand more. Gunga Diner-- Gunga Din. And the sheer frequency of the spray painted question, "Who Watches the Watchmen?"

And as Mark and I headed home and began to discuss it, I found myself referencing other movies and books that I've read to try to make my points.

Dr. Manhattan-- from the very beginning, he made me think of the man from Mars, in Stranger from a Strange Land by Heinlein. How appropriate that he would head to Mars to think...

As I think on it, his father was a watch maker. And what he makes of mars is the inner workings of a clock-- a task he was set as a child to put back in order, by a man who stopped making watches when Einstein developed his theory of the relativity of time for a boy who would grow up to be, himself, a physicist with interesting control over time, space and matter.

I mentioned The Incredibles and how both called for an end to the masks-- that no good deed goes unpunished.

Mark's read the graphic novel. He says the movie was stunning and amazing-- and how it pisses him off. These people are supposed to be the heros. It's what they set themselves up to be.

After a short pause, I said that I disagreed. They never claimed to be heros. I think the old owl man said it best when he said they put on the masks to finish the jobs the cops couldn't. Cops have to follow the law... and as Rorschach came to embody-- the law is limiting to the people who follow it. Vigilanties have to be above the law to do 'what needs to be done.' Look at when they break Rorschach out of prison-- they take down all of those convicts-- but she knocks out the guard as well. The new Owl Man is the most law abiding of the masked watchmen. He looked at her with a bit of disapproval and the look she returned said both, "What else was I supposed to do?" and "Those rules don't apply to us, to now, to this."

So I reference that Jody Foster movie, The Brave One. Where her fiance is killed and herself brutalized by a gang-- and the cops can't do anything about any of it, so she goes out for justice and revenge-- and in the end, the people and the cop, even though they -know- that what she is doing is wrong, want her to keep doing it, because it's also -right-.

Like the watchmen all decide they can't expose Ozymandius because even though he's the biggest mass killer the world has ever known-- he's actually brought about world peace. Even Rorschach, who's morals won't allow him to compromise, who MUST expose the truth if he isn't stopped-- begs to be stopped. BEGS to be allowed not to bring an end to the peace.

And Ozymandius, the fastest and smartest man in the world, wants to be punished for a crime he knows he can never claim... I believe that's why he takes the beating from Owl Man. I suspect that if Owl Man had tried to kill him, Ozymandius would not have stopped him.

I have to admit, I've always been fascinated by that poem, since I first came across it when I was 12.


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

It's a poem of the overwhelming pride of mankind. Wikipedia says it best: "In fourteen short lines, Shelley condenses the history of not only Ozymandias' rise, peak, and fall, but also that of an entire civilization. Shelley suggests all works of humankind - and humans themselves - are transitory. Whether a Pharaoh or peasant, we are mortal."

As Mark and I climbed into the car, I joked that it seems to prove Obama's point-- One person with a dream and a goal can change the world, all they have to do is move others to help them reach it..... as to whether or not that change is for good or ill depends on your point of view.

After all, Hitler was a vegetarian... And Mahatma Gandhi was a lawyer...

Mark said that maybe part of the point is that our laws don't always work. We live in a world full of people who have done the crime, and gotten away with it because they have a good lawyer, or no one managed to catch them.

And I pointed to the Comedian as an example of why vigilanties don't work-- he did so many things -wrong-. Killing a pregnant woman. Firing upon the crowd. Almost raping the original Silk Spectre. In their reality, killing President Kennedy.... And was allowed to roam free because the amount of 'good' he did outweighed the amount of evil.

It's hard to walk away from a movie that hits New York killing millions and be expected to feel joy and relief that it saves the world, living in a post 9/11 reality where the death of less than 3000 brought about such grief and -started- a war.

It's interesting to view an idea conceived in a cold war era where the atom bombs could have been dropped, from a future where it didn't happen.

Perhaps in another reality it did. As Silk Spectre commented in referencing Dr. Manhattan -- she can never tell which reality he's in and viewing.

I'd figured out all the major 'plot twists' well before they were revealed. I knew the Comedian was her father. Knew it wasn't by rape. Reconized who Rorchauch was as a child. Knew the 'bad guy' was Ozymandius. Didn't see the causing cancer scheme coming though. Wasn't expecting Rorchauch to go to jail for being framed.

...Have to admit, kind of impressed with Rorchauch. LOVED the quote, "I'm not locked in here with -you-! You're all locked in here with ME!" That is one scary s.o.b. ...with some interesting ideas. Like that the world we live in is made by us... and I'm thinking he might have a point in that one.

I'd like to think that world peace is attainable. And preferably without divine intervention. I'd like to think mankind will be able to save mankind from itself without someone else deciding they have to do it for us.

In the romantic end, I believe Silk Spectre made the right choice of a man over a god. I know it's the choice I would have made. (lol) When I made that comment to Mark, he asked me if I would try a god if given the chance. And I told him honestly, "No. That's my point. I don't want a god. I want a man."

And as I reach the end of this blog, I'm left with a quote from an episode of the Secret Saturdays that I find very apt. It's in the episode, The Swarm at the End of Space-- where the Saturdays are rescuing Agent Epsilon and his son Francis from jellyfish. (If you've haven't seen it, I suggest watching more cartoons (afterall, you're watching a movie based on a comic!))

It's actually a quote from Francis, "The thing about good guys and bad guys is they are they are so predictable. The real reward goes to the grey men. You'll never know how we'll surprise you."

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