Monday, March 3, 2014

Terry Gilliam Wrote an Alternate Ending to Watchmen

A little while ago I saw a story about Terry Gilliam's ending to the Watchmen movie and I posted the story over on Facebook and then just dismissed it.  But I ran across some other articles that I wanted to take a moment and just mention.  I also have the flu so I'm not really capable of great insight.  I know, not really all that different from my normal level of commentary.

I would read THIS first where Zack Snyder acts as cinematic Jesus and takes the burden of telling the story to save it from the bad ppeople.  I actually really like the Watchmen movie.  As I said on Facebook, I don't particularly enjoy the comic and I think it gets up its own ass at points at the expense of the audience.  That's my opinion and not for trying, I attempted to read that book 4 times before succeeding and then read it an additional 3 in an attempt to understand it.  I still don't like it.

But here's what started all this an interview with Joel Silver, HOLLYWOOD PRODUCER!  The interview itself is rather boring so I'm just going to steal the relevant parts.

CS:  Speaking of ones that got away, as a die-hard Terry Gilliam fan I have to know if there's anything juicy you can tell me about his conception of "Watchmen"?

Silver: It was a MUCH much better movie

CS: Than the one Zack Snyder made...

Silver: Oh God. I mean, Zack came at it the right way but was too much of a slave to the material.

CS: Agreed.

Silver: I was trying to get it BACK from the studio at that point, because I ended up with both "V For Vendetta" and "Watchmen" and I kinda lost "Watchmen." I was happy with the way "V" came out, but we took a lot of liberties. That's one of the reasons Alan Moore was so unpleasant to deal with. The version of "Watchmen" that Zack made, they really felt the notion. They went to Comic-Con, they announced it, they showed things, the audience lost their minds but it wasn't enough to get a movie that would have that success. What Terry had done, and it was a Sam Hamm script--who had written a script that everybody loved for the first "Batman"--and then he brought in a guy who'd worked for him to do work on it [Charles McKeown, co-writer of "Brazil"]. What he did was he told the story as-is, but instead of the whole notion of the intergalactic thing which was too hard and too silly, what he did was he maintained that the existence of Doctor Manhattan had changed the whole balance of the world economy, the world political structure. He felt that THAT character really altered the way reality had been. He had the Ozymandias character convince, essentially, the Doctor Manhattan character to go back and stop himself from being created, so there never would be a Doctor Manhattan character. He was the only character with real supernatural powers, he went back and prevented himself from being turned into Doctor Manhattan, and in the vortex that was created after that occurred these characters from "Watchmen" only became characters in a comic book.

CS: That's fascinating. Very META.

Silver:  Oh yeah. So the three characters, I think it was Rorschach and Nite Owl and Silk Spectre, they're all of the sudden in Times Square and there's a kid reading a comic book. They become like the people in Times Square dressing up like characters as opposed to really BEING those characters. There's a kid reading the comic book and he's like, "Hey, you're just like in my comic book." It was very smart, it was very articulate, and it really gave a very satisfying resolution to the story, but it just didn't happen. Lost to time.

CS: Things happen for a reason, it might have changed the whole landscape of superhero movies right now as well.

 Silver: But I did like the movie, very much. Zack did great stuff in it!

  And then they furiously made out, swiping the table clean of things that would get in the way of their vicious love making.  First off, if you are a creator and you want to use the word "meta", fine, whatever, I guess that's your prerogative.  You'll probably end up sounding like a douche but that word has meaning and application.  It's more forgivable if your some person writing copy that is being used to describe a work of creation.  Then your just a person telling another person what this thing is like.  But don't use "meta" as a complimentary response to another persons comment.  Silver didn't write that ending and that exchange just makes me want to ask "So, when are you just going to jerk each other off already?"

  Second, that's a stupid ending.  Maybe it would work as a DVD extra but that isn't a satisfying ending at all.  If I were to sit through that movie and get that ending I'd be pissed.  It's Patrick Duffy in the shower, it's the autistic kid holding a snow globe, it's every cop out hacky ending ever.  It's not smart or articulate and I would want detailed examples of why you think those words apply to what you're talking about.  How is that ending smart or articulate?  It's a soap opera convention that says nothing about anything.

  Where are the consequences of everything we watched?  What happened to the growth?  What happened with the characters?  What happened to the story?  You might as well make that the whole story and keep it 20 minutes long because you basically hit the restart button right at the end and make everything we've experienced worthless.  They're cosplayers now!?!  Do they retain the knowledge of their original world?  Are they the same people that had the experiences depicted in the film?

  That's a beginning of a story not the end!  All these questions!  Where did they go?  Do they exist already in this new reality?  Do they have lives there?  Do they maintain a birth certificate and social security number?  Where do they go, what do they do now, how do they make a living?  If they are the same character you've essentially stranded them there with no way to make a living.  They're just crazy now as they have neither the faculties, resources or the experiences that make them functional members of society.  They're now the the crazy people in the alley yelling about Nixon conspiracies and a, fucking, god like blue naked guy that changed everything.

  There are no super heroes, there are no vigilantes.  All the rules they're used to no longer apply.  Super science and heroics aren't a "thing" any more.  So what happens to them?  That's an even bleaker ending then what we got on top of solving exactly zero issues brought up in the course of the story.  The ending to Watchmen isn't bleak on a grander scale, Ozymandias has essentially manufactured world peace at the expense of the lives of the characters we care about (and the lives of thousands of off panel people we don't).  Some characters get more shafted than others but all in all it's pretty hopeful.  This, this is just garbage and I would take Zack Snyder's version over this any day.  Terry Gilliam has his strengths and I love his movies but I don't think he knows superhero comics and maybe with an entirely original property that he has full control over he might even churn out a great superhero movie, one I would like to see, but that adaption is not a good one.  It just isn't, not matter how met-ta it is.

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