Watchmen and adaptation

[General] (03.05.09, 10:25 am)

So, I mentioned earlier about how Alan Moore’s views of adaptation are primarily author-centric, about how as an author, he wishes to have exclusive control and power over what happens with his work. This perspective is fundamentally at odds with an audience/reader centric view, where adaptation is an inevitable process in reader’s exploration of works. I generally think that the latter view is more important, because, once a work is released, the author no longer has control over what readers make of it. However, there is a point about this that is prickly for me, and that is about aesthetics. While many adaptations can and will be made of works, I do not think that every such adaptation should be considered equally, or given endorsement simply because of their connection to the original work. I think that there is a criteria for judging adaptations, and looking at them critically.

For example:

On the subject of Alan Moore, I discovered today that his book Watchmen, having been adapted into film, is being adapted into a game. It doesn’t stand to be a very good game. More to the point, the film itself frustrated adapters to no end. Even Terry Gilliam, who attempted to adapt the comic into film twice acknowledged that it could not be done. I haven’t seen the film yet, or seen any of the media surrounding the game, but I think it is a good candidate for thinking about what goes into a critical aesthetics of adaptation.

In terms of games, anyway, my theory is that to adapt a work, its world and model must be interpreted, and then reconstructed in the new medium. Criticism would probably occur on first the level of interpretation, and then on the reconstruction.

Although, maybe this is the wrong idea. Maybe we should be looking at this from the gloomy eyes of Adorno, Benjamin, or Greenberg, that we are living in a culture industry where new ideas are reproduced and disassembled into capital. That’s a cheery thought.

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