Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rorschach, the "Watchmen" flick's hero?

I really liked "Watchmen," and I think I could devote at least 20 posts to the issues raised by the differences between the film and the comics. But one stands out to me above all others: In print, I found Rorschach to be a man in much more psychological distress. In the movie, I found him psychologically challenged but with a prevailing nobility. If the film could be said to have a hero -- which is a stretch -- it would be Rorschach.

In print, the story's nuances are triumphant. There is more room to interpret, and there's more depth. In the movie, there are moments of overwhelming emotional power that dwarf what a comic can deliver. These moments are sometimes raw, sometimes sweet and generally big and boastful, with much less ambiguity than the comics celebrate.

As a character on pages, I found Rorschach as troubled as he is intimidating. On the screen, I found him to be constantly extraordinary and ultimately beyond defeat, regardless of what compulsions were driving him. These are the questions I'm left with: When you think of the movie Rorschach, do you empathize? Would you like to be just as pure in spurning compromise, no matter what other horrors that forces you to embrace?


  1. I think that Rorschach was the guy they could develop the quickest visually over the others. In the graphic novel, they had entire issues devoted to individual characters. With the comic medium, you have some time to develop characters and create empathy in a totally different way than a movie. If you look at Watchmen that way, it might have been better to develop it as either a mini-series or as a trilogy of films to allow better character development. Unfortunately, I think that as things like this get longer your audience begins dropping.

    As a character, Rorschach was interesting. Kind of like a Batman gone wrong. Looking at Rorschach's background, it would have been easy to see him becoming a villain rather than a hero. Unlike most heroes he had not one substantial event that "snapped something in his head to become a vigilante" but a number of them. One wonders why he bothers at all to do the right thing as much of a downer he is about humanity. It almost seemed that he kept himself busy to keep from going mad. Some of that came through in that disturbing scene with the child molester. In the face of such cruelty, what would any of us do? how would you cope? its hard to say.


  2. Everybody loved Rorschach even back in the day when Watchmen was coming out as single issues. I think they would have had to try really hard to take him down as a character in the movie.

    I really wish they had left in his line as it was in the book, "wasn't Rorschach then, was Kovacs pretending to be Rorschach" or something to that effect (sorry both my copies are on a boat coming back from Australia.) That line felt better than just "was soft on criminals, let them live" as a way to show that kidnapping was going to be a breaking point for Kovacs not a watermark for Rorschach.

  3. i didn't like the watchmen movie as much as you mike, but i did dig it. i thought rorschach was the only character they really nailed in the movie. they got almost all of his story in. i wished they hadn't truncated the scenes with the psychologist... one of the keys in the novel (for me) was the fact the guy broke down over time and started seeing the world in roschach's terms instead of his own. to me that was kind of where the novel turned. as for him being evil, i never saw him that way. just different. an abolutist. i mean if bruce wayne was the son of a lawyer or judge instead of a doctor, might he have become rorschach too?
    jackie earle haley was perfect in the role.