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Watchmen: Midnight (Updated version!)

Flix Capacitor

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To mark the five year anniversary of the original theatrical release of Zack Snyder's WATCHMEN, I've updated WATCHMEN: MIDNIGHT.

With this revision, WATCHMEN: MIDNIGHT clocks in at 215 minutes. That's the same runtime as the "Ultimate Cut" available on DVD/Blu-ray, but with its closer treatment of the source material and further character development, I think WATCHMEN: MIDNIGHT has more soul. I'd still like to do an HD remaster of this from Blu-ray sources but it will have to wait until later this year.


Here are the major changes in this revision:

* Incorporating TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER segments into the film based on their appearances in the comics. Having restructured the plot line to unfold more like the original WATCHMEN comics, these two narratives are juxtaposed nicely and share character themes.

* With that additional material, all twelve chapters are represented in the film and there's no longer an intermission.

* New chapter inter-titles superimposed on screen, inspired by the appearance of the chapter titles in the original WATCHMEN comics.

* New color correction that reduces the blue tint in the film in order to restore natural skin tones and reveal some of the comic book inspired set designs and colors. Like many contemporary comic book/action films, the original WATCHMEN film has a "dark" aesthetic and is saturated with blue.


* New opening: the film now begins with the smiley face pin on the sidewalk like in the original comics.

* New "WATCHMEN" title over a shot of the NYC skyline.

* New closing for the film. The slow-motion credits sequence from the original film has been moved to the ending in order to erve as closing credits sequence. Music has been replaced by "The Beginning is the End is the Beginning" by The Smashing Pumpkins. This song was used in the teaser trailer for the original film but it works nicely in the context of this elegy sequence. I've discussed some of the lyrical/visual significance for this in an earlier forum post. However, for this revision I concluded the sequence with the NYC protesters and the man throwing a molotov cocktail -- the explosion dissolves to a yellow screen, like a bookending motif.


pumWsNh.png


FmnxI5S.png


 

steelio2006

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Really happy to hear bout this update. Seen your previous version of Midnight, and have to say that its definitely a great job.
 

TM2YC

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Ooooh the purple of the walls in Gunga Diner is now much more like the comic, neato!
 

njvc

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Love the look of the updates and the colour work, but I will hang on for your HD remake later this year! :)
 

Dwight Fry

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Meaning you're getting rid of the interminable credits sequence from the original? HOORAY! For some reason people keep listing it as memorable, but I thought it was a waste of precious running time and quite absurd in parts (yeah, right, two girls kiss in public in 1945 and no one raises an eyebrow, it would have been a major scandal in the real world).

EDIT: Oh. I got overexcited over your first listed changes and I didn't read until the end. So now it's the closing credits sequence. Oh well.
 

TM2YC

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I thought the credits sequence was very clever. The point was, that it was familiar history but 'skewed' so they choose "two girls kiss in public in 1945" as a parody of this famous V-J Day photo, to convey the sense that this our world but not quite (With costumed vigilanties etc)...

c8d1fe31c0ce4ef5_2.jpg.xxxlarge_2x.jpg


232187-vj-day-kiss-wazesg8.jpg


But maybe the end is a much better place for it.
 

Flix Capacitor

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Thanks to everyone who has responded to this update so far!

Also thanks for the discussion about the slow-motion credits sequence. In addition to repositioning it at the end, I've done some pruning here and there. For example, I've trimmed the JFK assassination bit out of the film because it clearly shows the Comedian was a shooter. As someone once pointed out, this is an exaggerated reference to a very short dialogue exchange from the comics:

nvs9f.jpg


The Comedian jokes about the JFK event merely to suggest he knows some secrets or has done some bad deeds -- nothing conclusive. It seems very unlikely he would casually admit at some party that he killed JFK -- he's smarter than that. However, the movie takes this little joke and blows it up; suddenly the Comedian is really the shooter! Hurm...

Anyhow, I removed the JFK bit from the credits sequence. Some of the moments in that sequence occur in the comics and others are invented for the movie to give an impression about characters or setting, but I agree with Dwight Fry that there some overdone moments. I also agree with TM2YC that the sequence establishes an alternate history.

However, in its original place at the start of the film, I thought the sequence was a problem because it glossed over about 45 years of backstory and never really returned to it during the film. In the case of my fanedit, I've moved the sequence to the end, so it reflects on the origins of the characters after we've seen all of their undoing by the end of the story.

The overall focus of this fanedit has been to bring the film closer to the nature of the comics, and I have considered removing the whole sequence. However, for this revision I experimented making it into an elegy for the whole Watchmen story. In this new context, with new music, I like the results. It doesn't appear in the comics as an opening or closing montage, but I think it represents some aspect of the spirit in the comics that may be missing from the film otherwise.
 

Dwight Fry

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[MENTION=24292]TM2YC[/MENTION] Yes, I'm aware of the reference, but still I think it's fail to have two people of the same sex reenacting it in the movie's 1945. No matter that it's an alternative timeline, the Watchmen world doesn't seem any more permissive than the real world. If anything it's even less so. Remember, if you have read the comic, that quite a deal is made of two superheroes of the forties having a secret gay relationship. If their 1945 was so open about the subject as to have two women kissing in the middle of a celebration crowd and in front of photographers and no one cries scandal, those two dudes wouldn't have much of a reason to keep things secret...
 

Flix Capacitor

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If the issue here is only with the shot of Silhouette and the nurse kissing, I agree that the depiction of that is more over the top than what we see in the comics. Further into the slow-motion sequence it shows the Silhouette and the nurse were murdered, so I don't know if the world is meant to be more permissive in 1945-- perhaps it's there just to show that these kinds of characters were more bold than other people around them (they also wore colorful costumes in public and fought crime, etc).

Earlier into my first round of editing, I considered removing the Silhouette/nurse moment from the sequence because it's not found anywhere in the comics. So far I've kept the parade moment in there because it serves as an historical placeholder (the newspaper headline "Japan Surrenders" which parallels the later headline about the USSR having the bomb) and it provides the on-screen credit to actor Matthew Goode.

I'm still interested in removing the parade shot, in which case I'd like to recreate the 3D text credits for Matthew Goode as well as visual effects supervisor John DesJardin (cut from the JFK assassination bit).

Regarding the parade shot being cut: I think the A-bomb blast preceding the parade shot also sets the WWII era but the headline is still a nice motif that's reused in the film. Although the parade shot clearly sets up the relationship between Silhouette and the nurse, the sequence already introduces the old Minutemen together in the "Last Supper" retirement party shot for Silk Spectre, then typically shows how they met tragic ends -- Dollar Bill shot while caught in a revolving door and Mothman carted off to an asylum. The nurse is beside Silhouette at the retirement party, and since Silhouette's sexuality was already established during the movie, this subtle positioning at the party is probably enough for a viewer to make the connection. Without the parade shot in this sequence, Silhouette's fate would keep the pattern and we'd then see her and the nurse after they were killed. Also, those three fates shown in the sequence (Dollar Bill, Mothman, Silhouette) would neatly conform to the way Rorschach, our narrator, describes the characters' fates.

With this whole slow-motion credits sequence acting as a elegy at the end of the fanedit instead of a primer for the story-world at the beginning of the original film, I think it's easier to treat these character details as though the viewer has more familiarity with the events.

Thanks Dwight Fry and TM2YC for this discussion :)
 

TM2YC

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Dwight Fry said:
TM2YC Yes, I'm aware of the reference, but still I think it's fail to have two people of the same sex reenacting it in the movie's 1945. No matter that it's an alternative timeline, the Watchmen world doesn't seem any more permissive than the real world. If anything it's even less so. Remember, if you have read the comic, that quite a deal is made of two superheroes of the forties having a secret gay relationship. If their 1945 was so open about the subject as to have two women kissing in the middle of a celebration crowd and in front of photographers and no one cries scandal, those two dudes wouldn't have much of a reason to keep things secret...

Very good point but it never struck me as out-of-place for an Alan Moore adaptation. It could easily have been something they'd have put in there. Moore's comics almost always have well written openly gay/lesbian/bi-sexual/multigendered/etc characters in them. But I suspect Snyder just put that shot in there because he wanted two women in uniforms Lezzing up! ;-) (I don't think his brain operates on a higher level than that).
 

Dwight Fry

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Since we're at it: can we hope for the speeding up of at least some of the slo-mo sequences? They are the main reason for me to dislike this movie. Every time I was starting to enjoy it, Snyder put another goddamn slo-mo show-off there that kept souring the experience to me. I love the graphic novel and as an adaptation it's not too bad, but the style kills all my enjoyment.

Also, can the Nixon scenes be trimmed? The makeup is completely ridiculous!
 

jelio

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I already love your original version, I'm existed to see this one!
 

Flix Capacitor

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Speaking of cartoons, I'm sure most of you Watchmen fans have seen this version by now:

[video=youtube_share;YDDHHrt6l4w]

For the HD remaster of Watchmen: Midnight, I'm interested in trimming the post-WWII parade shot and I have some other changes planned. For example, I want to incorporate some 1980s-era military shots from other films that could convey the mounting threat of nuclear war (e.g. shots of bomber planes getting fueled up, nuclear missile silos). Unfortunately, the film lost some of these broader dramatic elements when it condensed the narrative. As it is, the film's Dr. Strangelove-esque scenes with Nixon are the only major indicators of an impending nuclear war. The comics included bits where the military was gearing up for an attack, and it would be nice if the film had something raise the stakes in the same way. I'm open to movie suggestions -- I was thinking WARGAMES, TOP GUN, etc.

On that note, I agree that Nixon doesn't look great in the film but, just as in the comics, he has a purpose in the film for maintaining the tension of that nuclear war thread and delivering the important message to the world that Dr. Manhattan was the source of the mysterious attacks around the globe. I wouldn't want to totally remove Nixon from the film and lose what he represents in the narrative, and since Nixon is the focus of those scenes it would probably be less effective without him. Hmm, it would be a fun experiment to digitally replace him with another Nixon look-alike actor :)

Others have expressed their dislike for Snyder's signature slow-mo, and I get their point, but the slow-mo doesn't particularly bother me. Despite the changes I've made, I still think of it as a film directed by Zack Snyder. While making this fanedit I've been confronted by some of the insurmountable differences between films and comics, and I suppose Snyder's ramping the speed down at certain moments is one of the ways he attempted to capture the experience of reading the comics and lingering on a particular panel or page to take in the graphical detail and on-screen action.

Still, I like experiments, so I'd probably try ramping-up a slow-mo moment here or there to see how it plays out.
 

njvc

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Dwight Fry said:
TM2YC Yes, I'm aware of the reference, but still I think it's fail to have two people of the same sex reenacting it in the movie's 1945. No matter that it's an alternative timeline, the Watchmen world doesn't seem any more permissive than the real world. If anything it's even less so. Remember, if you have read the comic, that quite a deal is made of two superheroes of the forties having a secret gay relationship. If their 1945 was so open about the subject as to have two women kissing in the middle of a celebration crowd and in front of photographers and no one cries scandal, those two dudes wouldn't have much of a reason to keep things secret...

No one cries scandal?? I thought the kiss in the street was a necessary setup for this:

Watchmen_1357.jpg
 

Dwight Fry

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njvc said:
No one cries scandal?? I thought the kiss in the street was a necessary setup for this:

Watchmen_1357.jpg

Yes, but we're not talking one homophobic psycho here. We're talking 1945 being treated by Snyder like it was modern day, with them kissing in front of a crowd that would most likely have become a lynch mob under those circumstances, and press photographers taking pics that would have been unpublishable in the era except for sleaze magazines. Them thinking they were in private and an indiscreet photographer taking the pic would have made sense, but the way Snyder depicts it it's absurd.
 

TM2YC

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'X-Men: first class' has some nicely shot Cold-War material...

XMFC_CINESITE_VFX_10.jpg


It would pass for the 80s (50s,60s,80s Russian hardware looks kinda similar) and the footage looks similar in design to Watchmen IMO.

Two Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton era Bond movies might yield footage: Octopussy and Living Daylights.

Kevin Costner Cold war film 'Thirteen Days' might have something...

9068_4.jpg


9068_20.jpg


More screenshot here...
http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Thirteen-Days-Blu-ray/44334/#Screenshots

http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/X-Men-First-Class-Blu-ray/24937/#Screenshots

Red Dawn? Hunt For Red October? RamboIII? JFK? Nixon?
 

Dwight Fry

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Flixcapacitor said:
On that note, I agree that Nixon doesn't look great in the film but, just as in the comics, he has a purpose in the film for maintaining the tension of that nuclear war thread and delivering the important message to the world that Dr. Manhattan was the source of the mysterious attacks around the globe. I wouldn't want to totally remove Nixon from the film and lose what he represents in the narrative, and since Nixon is the focus of those scenes it would probably be less effective without him. Hmm, it would be a fun experiment to digitally replace him with another Nixon look-alike actor :)

Nixon is indeed important to the plot, so I don't suggest cutting him out but trimming his scenes down to the bare minimum, and ideally see him only from the back (we didn't really see him much in the comic, I can only recall him in one panel which displayed his shadowy profile seen almost from the back). Maybe your new Cold War era footage could help here, using it with Nixon's voice over it?

Flixcapacitor said:
Still, I like experiments, so I'd probably try ramping-up a slow-mo moment here or there to see how it plays out.

make-it-so-captain.jpg
 

theslime

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It's important to note that the 1945 of Watchmen is not the historical 1945 that we know. The comic's counterfactual history bits are pretty explicit about the fact that the paths of our reality and Watchmen's reality diverged not just after the creation of Dr. Manhattan, but as early as the first Minutemen (thus the absurd pirate comics angle). The comic's realist tone (IMO) implies that the actual superheroes of the late 30s were the gamechanging element and where the paths diverged.

My point: Watchmen's 1945 doesn't have to be realist. It's already of a world of flamboyant costumed heroes. But the fact that the openly lesbian hero is brutally murdered should be enough to establish the world anyway.

Also, a personal opinion, the intro was the only bold and unexpected element in a movie that neeeded lots of them.
 

Flix Capacitor

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theslime said:
It's important to note that the 1945 of Watchmen is not the historical 1945 that we know. The comic's counterfactual history bits are pretty explicit about the fact that the paths of our reality and Watchmen's reality diverged not just after the creation of Dr. Manhattan, but as early as the first Minutemen (thus the absurd pirate comics angle). The comic's realist tone (IMO) implies that the actual superheroes of the late 30s were the gamechanging element and where the paths diverged.

I agree, the story-world of Watchmen is framed by the premise of costumed vigilantes appearing in the real world, not merely the appearance of Dr. Manhattan. That's an important point Joel Silver, Sam Hamm, and Terry Gilliam misunderstood:

What Terry had done, and it was a Sam Hamm script--who had written a script that everybody loved for the first "Batman"--and then he brought in a guy who'd worked for him to do work on it [Charles McKeown, co-writer of "Brazil"]. What he did was he told the story as-is, but instead of the whole notion of the intergalactic thing which was too hard and too silly, what he did was he maintained that the existence of Doctor Manhattan had changed the whole balance of the world economy, the world political structure. He felt that THAT character really altered the way reality had been. ​http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=115185

Back to the issue of realism in 1945:

theslime said:
Watchmen's 1945 doesn't have to be realist. It's already of a world of flamboyant costumed heroes. But the fact that the openly lesbian hero is brutally murdered should be enough to establish the world anyway.

True, Watchmen's 1945 doesn't have to be realist and I also think Zack Snyder wanted this expository sequence to be sensational for the viewer by staging the kiss on screen (and the JFK assassination). Rather than throwing the sexuality in a viewer's face and creating possible plot holes as Dwight Fry has suggested, I'd prefer that the alternate world of Watchmen, including the sexuality of the characters, be revealed in a more frank way instead of sensationalizing it.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I also like the idea that the fates of these other Minutemen characters (Dollar Bill, Mothman, Silhouette) follow a pattern of tragic ends as recalled by Rorschach in his earlier narration. The original Minutemen are explored in greater detail during the "Under the Hood" segments throughout the fanedit, so placing this credits sequence at the end means it no longer acts as the story-world's primary exposition. Instead, as an elegy it can reflect on the characters and world we have just seen.

Thanks everyone for these great comments :)
 
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