Action, Drama, English Movies

Watchmen directed by Zack Snyder

Watchmen_2 The problem with some books (more specifically graphic novel, in this case) is that they are literally untranslatable into movie form. Especially when the story is highly complex and interwoven with multiple characters with a storyline that needs to go back and forth in time to make sense.

The problem doubles when the storyline contains “Superheroes”. Then the movie has to take form of the typical action superhero format (Batman, Spiderman etc) or become watered down in its effort to appeal both to the graphic novel fan and to the mass audience. An example of the latter is V for Vendetta, which was a highly sanitized teenager version of the original novel, which more or less killed its appeal for those who cherish the original.

The plot, simply put (very simply!!) is this. Watchmen is about an watchmen_by_imladrisellethalternate/parallel world similar to ours but different in many others. In this world, US has won the Vietnam war but only because they had the help of the Watchmen (their predecessors, the Minutemen helped win WWII), a group of vigilantes who don't have special powers like typical superheroes (except one) but they still dress up as ones and help out with ‘saving the world’. They become unpopular however and are  disbanded. The story starts with one of them getting murdered by an unknown assailant. One of the Watchmen (Rorschach), who has refused to leave the ‘field’ decides to investigate…so the story and the movie begins…

Watchmen is as much a complex novel as V for Vendetta, if not more. The film-maker chose a simpler route to avoid the fate of V. TheyWatchmenSmiley simply copied the frames of the movie from the original. When I say copied, I literally mean a xerox. While watching the movie, I had a weird feeling that I was seeing the novel move in fast motion. Even the dialogues were the same. Which in a way killed it for me – I loved the original and seeing the same thing in front of me without any adaptation or original thought of any sort made the movie feel like a sham, made it feel like a rip-off. What made it worse that they still had to water it down significantly in order to make it comprehensible in the 3 odd hours it played (it was a long movie) – for example, the pirate  sub-story was gone…

Then I stepped back a bit. I realized that the novel cannot be made into watchmen_silk_spectre a movie and be pleasing to someone who loves the original. But for those who are not so close to the original or have not read it, it was more than above average. It has a great storyline, has fascinating characters, great camera and animation work and yes, superb music. I mean, when they played “Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel during the funeral of the Comedian, the movie took on a surreal air. And the opening song by Dylan as the movie is introduced fits the mood perfectly.

And yet, no matter what, you cannot relate to the characters, like you did in the original. Everyone remains just about distant…

So, if watchmen is something you haven't read, this movie is worth a watch, if only as a primer for the read. And if you have read the original, give this one a skip…


Book Review, Graphic Novel

Kari written and illustrated by Amruta Patil

kari This is the first Indian graphic novel that I have read (albeit written and illustrated by Amruta Patil who is an NRI). I simply loved it. The storyline and the rough hewn sketches come together to create a visual mood that a simply worded book would find difficult to evoke. Being a novice in the world of graphic novels, one aspect of the genre that I have realized is that, in the hands of a gifted illustrator with imagination, the story told can be immensely compelling. The pictures are like poetry that can speak more than a thousand words – in fact can speak where language fails.

The novel is dark, ironic and poignant in turn. There is an undercurrent of gallows humour in it which prevents the book from becoming foreboding. The setting is Mumbai and contains all the elements that people have loved and hated about it (often the hate and love is about the same thing). The story is about Kari, who works in an advertising agency and lives in a two room flat with two other girls (though it is usually populated permanently with her roommate’s boyfriends). From the dank sewers, sweaty trains and a city that needs to be constantly on the move, Kari’s story is told.

She is a rebel without being one, dispassionate observer and passionate lover in turns, never fitting and knowing that perhaps she never will, drawn to individuals that are abandoned by others. All along is her dark, ironic humour and observations of the life around her and her unflinching honesty to herself about herself. All of this makes up a jpg_extrait_kari-9c536 story which is very urban-contemporary and which contains within itself a multitude of threads; each of us will find atleast one thread that we recognize intimately as our own.

This is a love story, a story of everyone who fits in without really fitting in, a story of death and of ghosts, a story of life in its starkest practicality. I found it a story that gives echo to hidden parts in us, parts that we, like Kari can only explore alone and write our own inarticulate poetry about