An inside look from Zack Snyder

Jackie McLean

Film’s director wants to smash concept of homogenized violence being ‘put into a clean wrapper’

READ a review of the film from all reporter Chris Kallio.

For director Zack Snyder, “Watchmen,” is no longer the “unfilmable film.” The highly anticipated multi-layered mystery adventure based upon the graphic novel was released in theaters worldwide Friday.

Snyder said he got a call to do the film after he finished filming “300.”

“I just got a call from the studio, and they said they had this script for a comic book called ‘Watchmen,'” Snyder said. “I don’t think they actually knew much about it, but they thought ‘Oh, Zack likes comic books, so he’ll love this.’ But it was strange because I don’t think they realized how crazy it was.”

Snyder said he was already a fan of Alan Moore’s graphic novel before signing onto the film and was excited to work with him but later found out he was unable to contact him during the filming.

“Alan Moore has famously divorced himself from our motion picture project,” Snyder said. “That bummed me out … because that seemed to me like the easy way to figure out exactly how to do the movie, and so since then, I’ve just had to flounder through my own experiences. And in some ways, maybe it’s a truer experience for the viewer because what I did was I just tried to make the movie based on the experiences I had when I first read the graphic novel back in ’88.”

Although Snyder was not able to get any input on the film from Alan Moore himself, he was able to work with Dave Gibbons, the graphic novel’s co-creator and illustrator.

“In a lot of ways, Dave is like the visual author of the movie,” Snyder said. “If you think about the movie like a normal book, Dave becomes the imagination, in some ways, of the reader. I think that’s an amazing gift that he gives to the movie because the movie is not only the texture of what Alan wrote, but the mood is set by the drawings of Dave Gibbons.”

Snyder said he got the courage to do the film because he feared that if he didn’t, someone else was going to do it in a way that wasn’t true to the graphic novel.

With the adaptation of the Vietnam War and the fear of a nuclear war, there has been a lot of political controversy surrounding the film.

“What we’ve learned from ‘Watchmen,’ I think from the graphic novel and hopefully a little bit from the movie, is that the morality of tracing your neighbors or the morality of being a vigilante in the case of superheroes is a slippery slope, and the movie sort of asks who polices the police or who watches the watchers or who governs government or who gods God,” Synder said.

Snyder, wanting to stay as true to the graphic novel as possible, used specific make-up and costumes to bring a true representation of the different time periods from the graphic novel to the big screen, according to the production notes. Snyder also makes references to many celebrities in the film, including Presidents Kennedy and Nixon, and younger versions of Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Annie Leibowitz and The Village People.

“Watchmen” features a lot of complex characters. During the casting of the film, Snyder said he didn’t want to use any well-known actors because the viewer would just see Brad Pitt, for example, wearing a superhero costume. He said he wanted to pick actors who were specific to what he imagined the characters to be.

Snyder said the violence in the film is also an important aspect to the story.

“Part of the reason why the violence is so extreme I think in the movie is that I wanted the idea of a superhero movie to be broken down at every level, not just psychologically, because as an audience we’re so used to the PG-13 sort of homogenized violence that has been put into a clean wrapper,” Snyder said. “The idea with the violence in ‘Watchmen’ is to sort of really smash that concept as hard as I could.”

Contact all correspondent Jackie McLean at [email protected].