As those of you that have read the Watchmen graphic novel and seen the movie will know, the Tales of the Black Freighter sub-story that is woven into the panels of the comic was conspicuous by it’s absence in the cinematic release. It’s no great surprise that the Black Freighter storyline was dropped from the movie, as it could be easily removed to cut down the running time, without compromising the already substantial film plot. However, the ‘comic within a comic’ wasn’t removed forever, and it’s looking very likely it will make it’s way back into the main movie when the director’s cut DVD is released.
The standalone Tales of the Black Freighter DVD release not only contains the Tales of the Black Freighter 20min animated short, but also ‘Under the Hood’ a mockumentory version of the extracts from Holis Masion’s (aka the first Nite Owl) autobiography.
Tales of the Black Freighter Animated Short
Tales of the Black Freighter (voiced and narrated by Gerard Butler) follows the a young sea captain’s descent into madness after a bloody battle with the sinister Black Freighter. Finding himself the lone survivor of his ship, he awakes marooned on a beach head, obsessing over his belief that the demon ship is heading towards his home of Davidstown. In desperation to try and reach the city to warn his family, he finds himself using the only materials to hand… the bloated corpses of his crew mates… to build a raft in the hope he can reach Davidstown in time. Dehydration, shark attacks, and only his dead crew mates for company cause the sea captain to lose his sanity, which further horrors cause him to lose his soul as well. The story stands up well on it’s own, although it does lose some of it’s punch when seperated from the main story arc.
Under the Hood
Under the Hood is the autobiography of Hollis Mason, where he explains the events leading up to the time when he became the Nite Owl, and discusses the formation of the Minutemen. Obviously, things need to be a bit more visual when bring Under the Hood to the screen. To this end, Zack Snyder chose to convert Under the Hood into a 60 Minutes style interview, fronted by a presenter in the 80s showing a retrospective of a show taped in the 70s with Hollis Mason discussing his life as Nite Owl in the 40s!…
The ‘video footage’ of the Minutemen is a credit to the costume designers of Watchmen, who have done a superb job of capturing those early capes, without making them look dodgy.
The DVD also includes a narrated animated version of the comic panels for the first volume of the Watchmen novel, and a behind the scenes of shooting the DVD.
All in all a decent accompaniment to the main Watchmen movie. I’m really interested to see how it works once it’s no doubt inserted back into the film in the Director’s Cut.