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Saturday, April 11, 2009

What Started as a Simple Movie Review

I have now seen Watchmen four times. Never before in my life have I seen a movie four times in the theater. Under the right conditions, I would even see it again. During the latest viewing, I picked up a few details that I had previously missed... some subtle inside jokes happening in the background or a nuance to a portrayal. But I didn't really see it in the hopes of noticing more... I saw it in the hopes that it would still impact me emotionally. And sure enough, even though I know every line of dialogue and every stunt and every cheesy comic book pose that the characters strike, I still cry every time.

I am somewhat stunned by that. It seems out of character for me. I don't really have a list of favorite tearjerker movies. So I sat down and tried to think of what other movies have hooked me emotionally time after time. There's really only one. And I'm not proud of it. It isn't exactly a good movie; it just speaks to me.

The film is called Powder. It was released when I was about 18 years old. It's a tragic fantasy tale revolving around a young man with a strange kinship to electricity. He is ash white and completely bald (he's the embodiment of electrolysis.) His "powers" are that he can manipulate magnetic fields and the electricity running through power lines. Incredibly sensitive and intelligent, he feels like an alien in our modern brutal society. It ends in bittersweet tragedy.


This is Powder


When I realized that Powder was the only other movie I had seen more than three times that still brings out tears, I was startled. There is a marked similarity between Powder's main character and the character in Watchmen that I feel the most emotional resonance with: Dr. Manhattan.



This is Dr. Manhattan


Both are completely bald. Both exude a kind of post-human quality, with the twin traits of extreme mental prowess and electrical/magnetic manipulation (though Manhattan's powers are of an atomic nature and near godlike in their capacity.) Both are baffled by the human drive toward cruelty, violence and chaos. Both ultimately choose to leave this world behind in a self-sacrificing but redeeming gesture. I suppose they could be considered aloof Christ figures. (If Jesus had been more intellectually detached and bald as a naked molerat, maybe I'd be a Christian!)

I don't know what this means exactly, but it strikes me as a significant insight into my own personal mythology. Whatever these characters represent must be profound for me at some level, conscious or subconscious. And what if I told you that one of my other favorite comic book heros was this guy?!

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13 Comments:

At 4/11/2009 08:50:00 PM, Blogger Walaka said...

Then why, oh, why, can you not recognize the glory that is the greatest comic book movie of all time:

FF2:TROTSS

I weep for your loss.

 
At 4/12/2009 05:23:00 PM, Blogger Yojimbo_5 said...

Two things amused me about FF2:
1) the pronged Galactus-shadow in the non-committal "Galactus-cloud."

2)Mr. Fantastic stretching up in a Gene Kelley-styled "Gotta Dance!" moment at his bachelor party.

That's about it.

John, you and I need to have a long talk about "Powder."

 
At 4/12/2009 05:24:00 PM, Blogger Yojimbo_5 said...

Oh, and if you wanted to do something REALLY worthwhile, start listing the things you love so much in "Watchmen."

There is, after all, a lot to like. One of the densest (in a good way!) movies I've seen in awhile.

 
At 4/13/2009 03:51:00 AM, Blogger lowcoolant said...

I thought your favorite character in "The Watchmen" was the monk on fire. Who, by the way, was BALD.

Also - I called you Sagat at Evergreen. Sagat is BALD. (Then I met Stilts, who was the true Sagat.) And at some point at Evergreen you shaved your head. Shaved it BALD.

 
At 4/13/2009 11:02:00 AM, Blogger Jimmimoose said...

Maybe you're going bald, Johnny?

I'ma call you the Eggman.

 
At 4/16/2009 07:46:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the movie powder~ haven't seen watchmen~ yet. John there has got to be some other movie that hit some emotional chord with you?!?!?!
dig deep and maybe you might remember one you missed.?!

 
At 4/18/2009 12:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't resist,
Does 'Iron Giant' ring any bells?
-a different anonymous blogger

 
At 4/19/2009 06:18:00 PM, Blogger John said...

To LowCoolant:

You're right! The self-immolating monk (from that classic footage of the war-protesting guy who set himself on fire and sat there burning to death) was my favorite character! And he's a baldy who also makes the ultimate sacrifice.

To both anonymous bloggers:

Plenty of movies have touched me, but very few have compelled me to go back and watch again and again... and on the few occasions that I have, the emotional impact rarely holds up. That said... Iron Giant is a pretty damn good one. I think I still cried on a 3rd viewing of that classic.

And, interestingly, The Iron Giant does have some similarities. He's sort of bald... and Vin Diesel (who voices the Giant) shaves his head. He has a childlike innocence and ultimately makes a big sacrifice to help everyone else. I guess the themes are holding true.

 
At 4/22/2009 06:24:00 AM, Blogger lowcoolant said...

I was reading an article about Hugh Jackman which mentioned "The Fountain." Then I remembered how much you loved that movie and how Hugh Jackman was. . . BALD in part of it!

 
At 4/22/2009 03:41:00 PM, Blogger John said...

Holy crap! You're right!
This is starting to get really creepy.

 
At 4/24/2009 04:50:00 PM, Blogger Yojimbo_5 said...

Okay, I'll break it up. You don't like Sean Connery.

 
At 4/24/2009 08:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are all bald nazis!!!

 
At 5/18/2009 09:58:00 AM, Blogger Ana Brígida Gómez said...

If it makes you feel better I also had this fixation with Godlike, nearly perfect and often bald emotionally different guys: Dr. Manhattan, Powder, Xavier are bald, Superman and Data are not bald but perfect and innocent/curious to human affairs also big crushes of me.
I adored this movie because of Dr. Manhattan I think I will dress myself as Silk Spectre III since II was not the one for him (I shipped hard Dan and Laurie)...And to make things creepier I married the sweetest/innocent in many ways bald guy that adores Superman on the world! Well at least my marriage will last forever!

 

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