Ralph Melton (ralphmelton) wrote,
Ralph Melton


Lori and I saw Watchmen yesterday. (My context: I've read the graphic novel a few times, but years ago.) Capsule review: I generally liked it. It's definitely not for kids.

I found myself able to see a lot more detail and nuance than I am with most movies I see. Some of that was my familiarity with the comic. Some of it also was the movie--there were very few lines that I found difficult to understand, and the careful use of slowed motion made it much easier for me to understand the action scenes.

So since I'm so excited about having more insights than usual, I'm talking about them. Spoileriffic discussion ahead! (These insights may apply to the comic as well; I haven't read it recently, so I'm not sure.)


There were at least three different presentations of violence in the movie.
The scene with Silk Spectre and Nite Owl fighting through the prison was relatively light--foes were just flung out of the way unconscious.
The scene with Laurie and Dan fighting the gang in the alley was much more graphic--you could hear bones snap and see bullet holes.
The scenes with Rorschach were even more violent.

One possible interpretation of this distinction: when Laurie and Dan put on their costumes, they are able to put on a more comic-booky level of violence.
If so, why doesn't this apply to Rorschach?
The most aggressive interpretation of this: Rorschach is not in costume. This is a strong statement, but
I think that the "give me back my face!" line gives it a fair bit of support.


I felt pleased with myself for noticing that the Pyramid Transglobal logo showed up upside down in the lighting of Veidt's skyscraper.


At first I felt a bit cranky about the success with which Nite Owl and Rorschach broke in to Veidt's office. A fantastically rich man can afford better security, and a fantastically smart man can use better passwords.

However... that suggests that the office was a bait, set up by Veidt to lure Nite Owl and Rorschach to Antarctica. I think this interpretation makes sense--more later.


Doctor Manhattan's killing of Rorschach was extremely bloody. He could have chosen something much less violent--turning Rorschach to air or glass, stopping his heart, or teleporting him to deep space would have been equally within his power. So that makes the bloody killing a choice. What does it mean that he chose such a bloody alternative?


I've found myself starting to nitpick at the name "The Comedian". Why would someone choose it as a name under which to fight crime? It doesn't seem like the kind of name that would strike fear into the hearts of villains.

One idea about what it means in the story: The Comedian is a hint at "The Joker", which was taken. From that link, I can jump to the other sense of "joker", that of a wild card--and that fits the character pretty well, because he's got a strong mix of good and bad going on.

That still doesn't explain why he would choose that name in-character, though.


That musing led me to similar musings about the name Ozymandias.

The clear reference is to the Percy Bysshe Shelly poem.
And if you think of Ozymandias as a superhero/supervillain whose tag line is "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings; look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!", it adds a bit to some of his other moments.
In particular, the bit with the executives suddenly looks like "I am CEO of CEOs; look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
And the finale with all the supers gathered in Antarctica looks like "I am Ozymandias, super of supers; look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!" And that explains why Ozymandias would want to set a trap leading Rorschach and Nite Owl to him--he really wants that gloating moment.

However, you can't refer to the poem without referring to the other bit:
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

And I don't see a clear reference to that in Ozymandias.

Looking for a reference to that bit of the poem in Watchmen makes me think of Doctor Manhattan's clock on Mars, which fits those lines almost exactly. But I don't know how to tie this back to the character Ozymandias.
The closest that the story comes to that sort of downfall is the hint at the end of Rorschach's journal being published--but I'm far from sure that can't be effectively squelched by Ozymandias' worldly powers.

But even with that nod to the finish of the poem in the book, I still don't see the character Ozymandias as having the humility to choose a name that implies the doom that comes with hubris.
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