Documentary Sidebar : “The Mindscape Of Alan Moore”

Posted: May 28, 2012 in comics, movies
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’ve always said that if Mrs. TFG and I ever have a son, I’m naming him after Alan Moore. Although Moore himself would probably hate the idea and (rightly) tell me to come up with something original, the urge to pass on the greatness inherent in that name would just be too much and I don’t think I could resist doing it.

Moore is so much more than just a comics writer, you see. In fact, he’s so much more than the greatest comics writer of all time. He’s also one of the most complex, interesting, challenging, and insightful intellects on the planet. Not just in this day and age, but probably ever. And it’s been my pleasure to follow the trajectory of his career as not just an author but also an occultist and thinker more or less from the beginning.

Well, nearly the beginning, at any rate. I started reading his legendary run on Swamp Thing when I was about 12 years old, and he was already a good few issues into it by that point. Since then, though, even during periods when my interest in comics in general waned (as it has currently), I’ve eagerly snapped up and immediately devoured anything with his name on it. Watchmen. V For Vendetta. From Hell. Lost Girls. Hell, I even read all his works for Image and Awesome like Supreme, 1963, Violator Vs. Badrock, and Spawn : Blood Feud — none of which were all that great, but all of which were head and shoulders above anything else of that admittedly bleak and, frankly, stupid ilk.

So yeah, Alan Moore is da man in my book. Always has been, always will be.

So it’s nice to see him get his due and just expound, generally in free-form, stream-of-consciousness style, on anything and eveything of concern and/or interest to him in front of a camera, and that’s exactly what documentarian DeZ Vylens (yes, that’s how it’s spelled, and no, I don’t think it’s whatit says on his birth certificate) allows the Warlock of Northampton to do in his shot-in-2005-but-released-a-few-years-later effort, The Mindscape Of Alan Moore.

Over the course of 78 densely-packed minutes, Moore holds court on everything ranging from the comics industry to pornography to his continuing forays into the occult to politics to social and economic class divisions to the nature of time, reality, and consciousness itself. Needless to say, it’s a fascinating ride every step of the way and contains more concepts ready-made to blow the pedestrian mind than pretty much anything else you’re ever going to see.

But — and it’s a big “but” — if you don’t go into the film with some foreknowledge of,  if not outright admiration for, Mr. Moore, then there’s nothing in here to grab you since it’s less an introduction to the man and his work than it is just an opportunity for him to preach to the choir. Lamely-staged (although give Vylenz points at least for trying, especially since it’s evident he had more or less no budget to work with here) re-enactments of key scenes from Swamp Thing, Watchmen, and V For Vendetta don’t help matters much, nor do the student-film-quality CGI effects that Vylenz chooses to include in order to emphasize key points that Moore is making in his various diatribes. In short, while Vylenz’ stated goal was not to have just a “talking head” documentary here, it would be better and frankly more effective if he had, indeed, gone that route.

Still, for those already on the Moore wavelength, this is a real treat. The two-disc DVD set from Vylenz’ production company, Shadowsnake Films, is jam-packed with extras (some of which are infinitely more interesting than others) including a “making-of featurette, on-camera interviews with Vylenz and the film’s chief FX man and music composer, deleted scenes,  a scene-specific director’s commentary track on key points of interest, and interviews with various Moore collaborators such as Melinda Gebbie (who’s also his girlfriend, by the way), David Lloyd, Dave Gibbons, etc. — which are of special interest to dedicated Moore fans given that he’s currently not on speaking terms with several of them these days due to disagreements with them stemming from Hollywood’s handling of their various co-creations.

Final verdict, then — if you’re even modestly interested in Moore’s works, either artistic, occultic, or both, this is absolute must-see viewing and one of the most thoroughly engaging and consistently enthralling documentaries you’ll ever see, and you’ll wish it was twice as long (at least) as its way-too-short run-time — but if you really have no knowledge of the man and don’t care to possess any (your loss), then The Mindscape Of Alan Moore won’t hold your attention in the least.

Me, I’m about to pop it back in and watch it again, just to fully grasp the richness of some of the ideas Moore elaborates on, and frankly because even the second time around some of this shit is, I have no doubt whatsoever, still powerful enough to blow my mind.

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