Friday, March 17, 2006

Camera Obscura - Alan Moore's Vendetta

The mainstream world is about to encounter what readers around the Western world read and thought about the rise of the Ronald Reagan years, though now re-told as the Neo-Conservative battle playing out in today's political world in the new move release "V for Vendetta." The writer and creator of the original 12 issue comic book series Alan Moore, has, once again, had his name removed from this film based on his work which was published in 1988.

Moore has given up rights to his works already made into film - "Constantine," "From Hell," "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". He still writes intriguing tales in the comics and remains a most unusual character. A recent interview has these comments about "V for Vendetta":

As far I'm concerned, the two poles of politics were not Left Wing or Right Wing. In fact they're just two ways of ordering an industrial society and we're fast moving beyond the industrial societies of the 19th and 20th centuries. It seemed to me the two more absolute extremes were anarchy and fascism. This was one of the things I objected to in the recent film, where it seems to be, from the script that I read, sort of recasting it as current American neo-conservatism vs. current American liberalism. There wasn't a mention of anarchy as far as I could see. The fascism had been completely defanged."

I had been reading Moore's award-winning work thru the late 1980s on "Swamp Thing" and "Miracleman", just prior to the release of the astonishing masterpiece called "The Watchmen." More on that later (and please, God, don't let them ever make a movie of it). It was in late summer in 1990 in a small apartment in Brooklyn where I ran across the V for Vendetta series.

The character of V takes action not so much for some Moral Code - it's more that he wants to destabilize the status quo, encourage the individual to establish self-determining skills, and ultimately the reader has much to wonder as to whether V is just an insane anarchist, a tortured artist or just the presence of non-conformity.

In 1990s Manhattan, riots had raged in Bensonhurst and Times Square was still home to porn theatres and crime - as opposed to its role today as a sleek and clean place to see the latest Walt Disney Broadway musical. The rap band Public Enemy was playing Radio Center under heavy police security and economic ravages of trickled-on-and-down Reaganism left a funky sense of smoldering rage through the city. I remember seeing stretches of the Brooklyn Bridge marked with graffiti which read "Yuppicide".

To the movie's credit, I understand there's more actual dialog than just action - but we'll see. The film itself is dedicated to the memory of the late, great cinematographer Adrian Biddle who died in Dec. 2005. And it stands to reason to stake out the story with the current political debate noting single-party government and morality versus ... well, reviewers have referred to "liberalism", but I see little of that in America and more concerns of maintaining the Bill of Rights. But that's another post.

First in V for Vendetta and later in "The Watchmen" Moore presents the idea that someone, with or without some super-hero power, who dons a mask and takes the law into his or her own hands is -- well, a little crazy, isn't it? And his epic graphic novel, "The Watchmen," Moore provides a leftover collection of deeply disturbed superheroes enacting their vision for humanity which isn't really very sane. There are many levels of storytelling here and all brilliantly presented - in my opinion, it's the pinnacle of storytelling in comic books and nothing has reached beyond it since it first came out in the late 1980s. The ideas there have been picked up in Hollywood and anime and television ever since. Moore seems content to just continue writing as he wishes.

In some other movie/comics news, writer Mike Mignola and director Guillermo del Toro are teaming together again for a sequel to the highly underrated "Hellboy" movie. For my money, it's the best adaption of a comic book to movie I've ever seen. Rumors also claim the director is being wooed to take the lead for the movie adaption of the videogame "Halo."

And as of this morning, I read that actor Benicio del Toro has signed on to play The Wolf-Man in a new Universal movie.

And so far, I've been most impressed with the new Tuesday night TV series "The Unit" created by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet -- someone called it "Desperate Housewives Meets G.I. Joe", but it's much better than that. It follows a group of covert-ops military agents and their wives, but the lingo is realistic and each episode stands alone - you don't have to follow a season-long storyline to keep up with it.


  1. V is for very late w/ your promised Christopher Walken camera obscura!
    You said you would do that weeks ago Joey!
    Bring my Freak ON!

  2. Right you are.
    Next week's article will be all Walken,
    all-singing, all-dancing and doin' the full-blown Walken mean-ass, and should provide much opportunity for the world to get down and funky.

  3. Anonymous3:13 PM

    A 2 (or even 3) hour movie could never do The Watchmen justice, but a cable mini-series, in the right hands (say, Ron Moore or Manny Coto)could be immense.

  4. I saw V for Vendetta this past Monday. It is far better than I expected. The requisite eye candy is present, but there is way more to it than Hugo Weaving prancing about kicking ass and blowing stuff up. I liked it. A lot.