If you are still reeling from a disappointing night in Sin City, another project makes it’s world premiere from the mind of a genius graphic novelist. Many people consider Alan Moore one of the most important writers of the last fifty years, lumping the comics legend in with more traditional story-masters. His dystopian superhero story Watchmen is often regarded as the greatest graphic novel of all time (and is the only graphic novel to appear on Time’s 2005 “All-Time 100 Greatest Novels” list.) Moore is also responsible for the anarchic revolutionary guide V for Vendetta, the Jack-the-Ripper investigatory From Hell, and Batman: The Killing Joke, which is basically the foundation of the Joker as a tragic character, and a huge influence on both Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan’s portrayal of the iconic character. My favorite Alan Moore creation is The League of Extraordinary rGentlemen, a steampunk version of the justice league set in Victorian England and featuring heroes like Captain Nemo, Allan Quartermain, Dr Jeckyl, and Mina Harker (from Bram Stoker’s Dracula).
Over the years, a number of film adaptations have been made from his works; Moore has always distanced himself from the final products – to date he still has not seen the Johnny-Depp-starring FROM HELL or the Sean-Connery-starring LXG. He had a very public disagreement with producer Joel Silver during the release of V FOR VENDETTA, which he called “a Bush-era parable by people too timid to set a political satire in their own country.” He asked that his name be removed from any future film versions of his work that he did not own the rights to and this included Zack Snyder’s WATCHMEN and the Keanu-Reeves-starring CONSTANTINE. In a 2012 interview with LeftLion magazine, interviewer Jared Wilson asked Moore how much money he had walked away from by refusing to allow his name on film adaptations of his work. He believed it was a couple million, saying “You can’t buy that kind of empowerment. To just know that as far as you are aware, you have not got a price; that there is not an amount of money large enough to make you compromise even a tiny bit of principle that, as it turned out, would make no practical difference anyway. I’d advise everyone to do it, otherwise you’re going to end up mastered by money and that’s not a thing you want ruling your life.”
Now, two years later, Alan Moore brings his highly anticipated SHOW PIECES into the world, debuting 3 of the 5 pieces today at London’s Film4 FrightFest. Show Pieces are the first films by Alan Moore written specifically for the screen. The development of the short films led to the creation of a book featuring the full color storyboards, the original screenplays and tons of additional background material written by Alan Moore about the universe of The Show, a new world created by Moore and director Mitch Jenkins. Set in the town of Northampton, UK, Show Pieces is an occult noir thriller starring Siobhan Hewlett, Darrell D’Silva and Andrew Buckley. Alan Moore himself also appears playing a small but important part in the story.
I had the opportunity to preview these three pieces and I can tell you, they are very bizarre and full of visual wonder and despite their fractured nature, tell a far more cohesive story than Sin City 2. The first piece, my favorite, “Act of Faith,” is like a perverse episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It follows the evening’s preparations of a young female reporter’s night of sin, and its surprising ‘climax.’ She finds herself in a mysterious nightclub on the edge of life of death, surrounded a cavalcade of odd and disreputable characters. One of these men, hard-drinking womanizer James Mitchum, is willing to make any deal to get his life back in “His Heavy Heart,” a frightening parody of Egyptian funeral rights.
It is great to see Moore enter the film world on his own terms. These are low-budget cult pieces but they manage retain a life and ‘danger’ that a Hollywood film could never obtain. The horror in them is disturbingly real, despite being set in a fantasy world. Lex Films is releasing the anthology in deluxe box set featuring all five short films (90 minutes) on DVD, a book with both the original screenplay and storyboard illustrations by Kristian Hammerstad, and a soundtrack CD. The first 200 copies will be signed. More information can be found here.