Next March, comic book fans are getting even more of the gritty world created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in the landmark graphic novel Watchmen. In addition to the live action adaptation hitting screens on March 6, the following Tuesday will see the release on DVD of a short animated film adapting Watchmen‘s Tales Of The Black Freighter segments.
According to an article in the New York Times, the theatrical version of Watchmen will get a standard DVD release several months after the film has played in cineplexes. Then, director Zack Snyder will release a re-edited version of Watchmen on DVD, incorporating the Black Freighter short film back into the main movie’s plotline.
In the original Watchmen graphic novel, Tales Of The Black Freighter was the name of a pirate adventure comic that a supporting character, played by Jesse Reid in the film, reads. The Black Freighter‘s story provides counterpoint to a specific character’s story arc. Directors who had previously tried to adapt Watchmen for the silver screen have all cut the segments out, finding them too problematic.
Also on the DVD release will be a mockumentary entitled Under The Hood, which will flesh out the heroes’ backstories. Under The Hood was the name of a biography written by one the original generation of superheroes in the Watchmen world. “Excerpts” of the book were featured in the graphic novel.
We had reported last February that Snyder was planning on having the animated “Black Freighter” segments as an extra on the eventual Watchmen DVD release and that Snyder’s 300 star Gerard Butler is set to voice the ship’s captain. Presumably, the studio was impressed enough with how that side project is turning out that they have made this move.
This is exciting news. Snyder and his crew are in the process of making this an epic film, in more ways than one. In the Times story, Snyder confirmed something I had been already told, but could not report out of protection for the source- that the film’s running time is in the neighborhood of three hours. It is a length no other comic book adaptation has attempted, but considering how tightly plotted the original graphic novel is, the longer run time sounds justified, to include as much of the original as possible.
As a graphic novel, Watchmen was groundbreaking and profoundly influential. It is begining to look like the film Watchmen may be just as groundbreaking.