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#1 Michael E. Marotta

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 06:45 PM

I saw the movie today. I enjoyed thoroughly. It validated my sense of life. The story is central to complex arguments on the RoR discussion board "Rorschach Doesn't Shrug," and here "Another view of The Watchmen" by Superhero Babylon writer Joe Maurone. (I also posted a review here.) The Watchmen novel was orginally given voice by Orion Reasoner in 2004, here. OR's few posts mentioning The Watchmen never won any echoes from other posters, so the work remained below their threshhold of attention. Then, Orion Reasoner was banned or marginalized. And the Watchmen had no advocates ... until now ...

How can this not be parody as an imitation of art? Among the many devices employed by Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged was the superhero with an alter ego. Even before computering gave us handles, I wrote in a magazine whose contributors included Harry Browne, and Robert Poole, Jr.,... and The Wolverine, Thor Xavier Challenger, the Friendly Falcon, Chance Corsair, Aragorn Beowulf and El Rayo, published by the pseudonymous Skye d'Aureous and Natale Hall.

So, now, a new generation of alternate identities in a virtual reality argue which comic book character most closely personalizes their opinions of Objectivist Ethics and objective morality.

They wring their hands because the moral complications, evasions, compromises, unstated premises, stolen concepts and floating abstractions rob them of the simplicity that only knows understading.

I did not enjoy the graphic novel. About halfway through, it became a chore. I recognized the high artistry and achieved craftsmanship, as I admit that Toni Morrison and Saul Bellow write as I cannot. But the sense of life was sewage. I was glad to be done with it. I put the novel and the movie tie-in book both into plastic and both into a box of stored first editions.

But the movie came recommended.

So, I made the time and attended a matinee.

It was worth it.

The flaws were removed to make the story fit the screen -- as it was about 2 1/2 hours worth of screen, actually...

The moral problems remain.

They are for you to sort out.

On your own.

Mike M.
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#2 Michael Brown

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Posted 31 March 2009 - 02:39 PM

[This is an edited version of what I posted elsewhere.]

Well, I read "Watchmen" when it first came out, and got the collection when it first came out. While I've enjoyed a lot of what Alan Moore has done, this is one of many times where I don't agree with him on everything. I thought V was better as a comic then what they did in the movie. Moore can do some great comic book stories when he doesn't let his PoMo and similiar crap get in the way. (Marvelman, 1963, Supreme, LoEG, most of the ABC line, Swamp Thing, D.R. & Quinch, and a few others).

I found that the Watchmen movie a kind of 'mixed bag'. While overall faithful to the comic (the actors did a spot-on job of their characters, and a lot of scenes and dialogue was lifted almost verbatum), I found that some stuff was cut (understandable because of time), some stuff was altered (many times because of other things being cut), and some stuff was added (again, to make up for the stuff cut).

A few things were ALTERED, and I didn't like those alternations, because I felt it made some real changes in the storyline and theme. Some of those were:

* When The Comedian got his face cut in Vietnam, it was a lot more horrific then what is seen in the movie. Afterwards he wears a full-face leather mask, similiar to a gimp mask. But in the movie they show him still wearing just a domino mask (ie: riot scene in NY with Nite Owl & Comedian). Since they were so faithful with the look of everything, why not do this right??

* The fight between Ozy and The Comedian was way longer then in the comic. I saw no real purpose in that. I guess they figured they needed a kick-ass opening... Others have commented that the movie seems to imply that the 'Watchmen' have some degree of superstrenght (which they didn't in the comic) to do some of the things we see in the movie). On this same theme, the fight between Ozy and Nite Owl & Rorschack was also way longer then in the comic.

* the fight between Nite Owl & Silk Spectre and the street gang was both way longer in then in the comic, and a LOT more violent (no was killed or shot in that fight in the comic).

* Rorshacks's dispacting of the kidnapper did NOT happen that way in the comic. In the comic he chained him to the stove, gave him a hack saw, then dumped gasoline around the room and set it on fire (similiar to a scene in Mad Max). I frankly think the comic did it better and I think most audience members would have been more sympethetic to R doing that then what happened in the movie. I almost wondered if they did that so the audience won't have been as sympathetic toward R.

* Since I think most people know the big ending, I'll let you know that in the comic, it was a little different (or maybe a whole lot different). Ozy only blew up NY, and made it look like a possible alien invasion, so the idea was to unite the US & USSR against a common threat: aliens. Sounds more doable then going after the god-like Dr. Manhattan. I guess the movie people thought they needed to hit other cities (I guess they figured many in the audience won't care if just NY got it, vs major cities around the world as well), and the fake alien invasion think won't fly. The rest happened as shown, expect Dr. Manhattan left because he was tired of dealing with us, and would go off and explore the universe.

In fact, I was so bothered by these alterations I had to pull out my copy of Watchmen when I got home to verify if I was remembering some things correctly.


Many have commented on the basis of the comic and its characters. Alan Moore was originally going to use the characters created by Charlton Comics that DC had recently purchased, but his plans would have made them unusable afterwards, hence he created new characters inspired by (some cases very loosely) on these characters. Many of these were done in some part by Steve Ditko. Rorschack is inspired by Ditko's The Question, an early Objectivist hero he created (his Mr. A. that came out soon afterwards is usually seen as a more 'purer', Ditko-owned Objectivist hero). Rorschack is more of Alan Moore's take on what an Objectivist hero would be.

For those who care:

Dr. Manhattan- Captain Atom (art by Ditko, an air force officer who is blown up by a nuclear missle, and comes back an atomic power superhero)
Nite Owl I- Blue Beetle (rookie cop turned superhero, created by Fox Comics, later bought by Charlton)
Nite Owl II- Blue Beetle II (inventor Ted Kord, who has no powers, but used a flying bug to go fight crime, inspired by the original Blue Beetle. Created by Ditko)
Rorshack- Question (reporter who fights crime, using a 'false face' mask and Objectivist philosophy. Created by Ditko)
Silk Spectre- based on various early female heroes like Phantom Lady, etc
Silk Spectre II- Nightshade (super powered character who worked alongside Captain Atom)
Ozymandias- Thunderbolt (man who is at peak of mental/physical condition)
Comedian- Peacemaker (diplomat who so believed in peace, he would fight for it as the Peacemaker)

I've posted over in the Library section about Ditko's Objectivist work, for those interested.

#3 Ross Barlow

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 09:30 AM

I am not familiar with the “Watchmen” graphic novel, but I did see the movie here in Bangkok, and I found it to be very interesting. (I think it is still playing here, and I may try to get my wife interested in seeing it since she likes action flicks and it’s an excuse for me to see it again.) I will probably get the DVD when it comes out here to examine it closer. It is a complex and intriguing story.

My favorite part – although it is one among many cynical parts – was when the Comedian faces the NYC rioters with a vintage M-79 grenade launcher, the “Blooper” as we used to affectionately call it. That was my own weapon 40 years ago, and I dearly trusted it. It is an archaic but elegant piece of armament. It was unexpected nostalgia to see it in the film.

The “Watchmen” is a different world. It has quite an edgy quality.

-Ross Barlow.
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for the Misty Mountains."
~~Led Zeppelin~~

#4 Brant Gaede

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 10:30 AM

I am not familiar with the "Watchmen" graphic novel, but I did see the movie here in Bangkok, and I found it to be very interesting. (I think it is still playing here, and I may try to get my wife interested in seeing it since she likes action flicks and it's an excuse for me to see it again.) I will probably get the DVD when it comes out here to examine it closer. It is a complex and intriguing story.

My favorite part – although it is one among many cynical parts – was when the Comedian faces the NYC rioters with a vintage M-79 grenade launcher, the "Blooper" as we used to affectionately call it. That was my own weapon 40 years ago, and I dearly trusted it. It is an archaic but elegant piece of armament. It was unexpected nostalgia to see it in the film.

The "Watchmen" is a different world. It has quite an edgy quality.

-Ross Barlow.

For some damn reason our M-79s fired about 30% duds.

I heard about a South Vietnamese soldier who fired one at a VC and got a direct hit on the head. That one wasn't a dud.

--Brant
war is not nice
war is horrible

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism


#5 Michael Brown

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 04:13 PM

The “Watchmen” is a different world. It has quite an edgy quality.


It's mean to be.

It was Moore's way of showing what a world would be like with superheroes (Moore is, IMO, VERY good at taking a more realistic view of superheroes). Most comic book creators just think a world with superheroes would be just like our world, just with superheroes. Instead, a world with superheroes would probably be very different.

So Watchmen shows us an alternate 1985 in which:

'masked mystery men' appeared in the 1930s & 40s.

A superpowered human appeared in the 50s. Thru him, we are able to go to electric vehicles (not clearly shown in the movie, but in the comic, almost all vehicles are electric, including Nite Owl II's owl vehicle) because Dr Manhattan was able to create the raw materials needed to create batteries for electric vehicles.

Because superheroes are real, superhero comic books go away. Instead, pirate comics are big. (this is an element missing from the movie. Thru the comic we see a boy reading "The Tales of the Black Freighter", and see his interactions with a newsman- in the movie we see these two characters, they are killed in the NY explosion, but really don't know their back story. They did do a direct to video animation of "Tales of the Black Freighter".)

Thanks in large part to Dr Manhattan, we win the Vietnam War. Vietnam actually becomes part of the US (51 state I think), they overturn the restrictions on presidential terms, and Nixon is still President into 1985. [we see this in the movie, with mass surrenders to Dr M, Nixon arriving triumphantly in VN, etc]

It's due to the Keane Act that the masked heroes are outlawed (we see the riots during that, when the NY police go on strike). Because Dr Manhattan worked for the government, and the Comedian has pretty much become a government agent (hence his involvement in the Vietnam War), they still operate (there are hints the Comedian killed JRK and maybe also the Watergate reporters- there was no Watergate scandal in this world). Nite Owl quits. Silk Spectre as well, by now pretty much just being Dr. Manhattans girlfriend. Ozymandias had already quit and started a financial empire, revealing his identity, thus avoiding the anti-mask stigma. Rorshach, of course, keeps on working. Not sure if this was before or after he went insane. (the death of the kidnapped girl is shown in the comic to have pushed him over the edge).

Because of Dr Manhattan, world tension between the superheroes is MUCH higher. This is, in fact, one of the main reasons for Ozy's plot. It gives the world a common threat to unite behind, eliminating the tension and preventing armageddon.

#6 Michelle R

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Posted 24 May 2009 - 08:20 AM

*Spoilers, I suppose*

It goes without saying that the movie is no match for the original comic series (later GN), but I'm not sure if this is fair. What adaptation is superior to the original? The filmmakers did an excellent job adapting what was considered an "unfilmable" story to film. Did it lose a lot in the process? Sure. But it made for good cinema, and has probably drawn many people toward the GN.

Some changes I wasn't happy with (counting out the exclusion of the Black Freighter story-in-a-story, which made good sense to exclude from the movie-version)

- Nite-Owl II's changed costume (In the comic, he looked like an...owl...but the costume in the movie makes him look like a batman reject)
- The soundtrack (For two reasons: 1. I hated the choice they made to stick with almost nothing but commercial songs. Why not give it a full original score like it deserves? 2. The placement of the songs makes no sense to me. I was taken completely off-guard during a scene where nothing of substance is happening, and then all of a sudden...BOOM! 99 Luftballons starts playing. Its inclusion felt so senseless and random).
- Matthew Goode as Ozymandius. I went to see this film with a friend who'd never read the GN before, and the moment after Goode's character was introduced, he turned to me and said: "I think he's the one who killed the guy at the beginning of the film." I wasn't surprised. Everything about him, from the way he talks to the manner in which he dresses, screams: VILLAIN! HEY, HEY, THIS GUY IS THE VILLAIN! He's like a bad parody of a Bond villain. Quite different than the under-the-radar guy we meet in the GN.
- The story tones down Rorshach's philosophy too much. It seems to remove the atheism as well as the existentialistic aspect (Rorschach believes that existence is morally blank, and that humans impose meaning onto it in the GN).
- All depth and dimension was taken from Rorschach's psychologist.
- Too much superfluous violence added to the story. It just felt immature after a while.
- I suppose it had to be expected with this director, but the overly-stylized slow-motion bits were irritating. They make the film feel very insecure and needy, like it can't trust audiences to have their attention drawn to the film's content, so it jumps up and down, waving its arms in the air, calling: "Look at me! I'm nice and shiny and pretty. Please like me."

Then again, most of the casting was good, with a few GREAT choices (Crudup as Manhattan and Haley as Rorschach, in particular). The film's pacing was excellent. I thought the change made to the ending was actually a good idea (it might have worked in the comic, but nothing would have redeemed the film had some CGI beasty suddenly popped up on screen, which would have been the likely choice, as EVERYTHING seems to be CGI now). The film is intense and involving.

It isn't perfect, but I never would have expected an adaptation of Watchmen to turn out so well.
"After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with colour, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn't it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked -- as I am surprisingly often -- why I bother to get up in the mornings. To put it the other way round, isn't it sad to go to your grave without ever wondering why you were born? Who, with such a thought, would not spring from bed, eager to resume discovering the world and rejoicing to be a part of it?"
-- Richard Dawkins

#7 Michael Brown

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 02:17 PM

*Spoilers, I suppose*

It goes without saying that the movie is no match for the original comic series (later GN), but I'm not sure if this is fair. What adaptation is superior to the original? The filmmakers did an excellent job adapting what was considered an "unfilmable" story to film. Did it lose a lot in the process? Sure. But it made for good cinema, and has probably drawn many people toward the GN.

Some changes I wasn't happy with (counting out the exclusion of the Black Freighter story-in-a-story, which made good sense to exclude from the movie-version)


Overall I'd have to agree. In terms of a faithful comic book/movie adaptation, this one was the most faithful. But, like you I think, I also didn't care for the changes.

- Nite-Owl II's changed costume (In the comic, he looked like an...owl...but the costume in the movie makes him look like a batman reject)


Well, many of the costumes were changed. I was pleased the earlier characters outfits were fairly faithful. I thought both Nite-Owl II's & Ozy's costumes were too 'batmany'.

- Matthew Goode as Ozymandius. I went to see this film with a friend who'd never read the GN before, and the moment after Goode's character was introduced, he turned to me and said: "I think he's the one who killed the guy at the beginning of the film." I wasn't surprised. Everything about him, from the way he talks to the manner in which he dresses, screams: VILLAIN! HEY, HEY, THIS GUY IS THE VILLAIN! He's like a bad parody of a Bond villain. Quite different than the under-the-radar guy we meet in the GN.


Interesting. While I thought all the casting was great, I had a nagging issue with Goode. He was the only one I had issues with, I just couldn't put my finger on it.

- The story tones down Rorshach's philosophy too much. It seems to remove the atheism as well as the existentialistic aspect (Rorschach believes that existence is morally blank, and that humans impose meaning onto it in the GN).
- All depth and dimension was taken from Rorschach's psychologist.


Well, there were other areas they just had to cut out, so these were more that were victimized. I've heard they will release a longer 'director's cut'. Will be interesting to see how much it adds, but I somehow doubt this will be an area.

- Too much superfluous violence added to the story. It just felt immature after a while.


Totally agree. In addition to what I noted, there was also the prison scene stuff as well.

Then again, most of the casting was good, with a few GREAT choices (Crudup as Manhattan and Haley as Rorschach, in particular). The film's pacing was excellent. I thought the change made to the ending was actually a good idea (it might have worked in the comic, but nothing would have redeemed the film had some CGI beasty suddenly popped up on screen, which would have been the likely choice, as EVERYTHING seems to be CGI now). The film is intense and involving.


Overall, I thought most of the casting was spot on. Other then some issues with Goode, and I didn't think the guy doing the Comedian pulled off the elderly Comedian before he died (other scenes of him were great).

#8 Michelle R

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 03:53 PM

Well, many of the costumes were changed. I was pleased the earlier characters outfits were fairly faithful. I thought both Nite-Owl II's & Ozy's costumes were too 'batmany'.

Well, there were other areas they just had to cut out, so these were more that were victimized. I've heard they will release a longer 'director's cut'. Will be interesting to see how much it adds, but I somehow doubt this will be an area.

Overall, I thought most of the casting was spot on. Other then some issues with Goode, and I didn't think the guy doing the Comedian pulled off the elderly Comedian before he died (other scenes of him were great).


I actually liked the changes in Silk-Spectre II's costume. I didn't mind the change in Ozy's costume. In both the film and GN, he looked like something out of Superman.

I can see this in terms of the psychologist's character, but they didn't need to make the changes with Rorshach. They could have added, say, four or five minutes to the running time and presented Rorshach's philosophy correctly. That one is pretty inexcusable. But it is obvious why they excluded it: Americans, by and large, still aren't responsive to atheism. And Rorshach is very explicitly atheistic in his philosophy. Moreover, the way they changed Rorschach's handling of the child killer was more of the 'ADD GORE' sentiment that the moviemakers seemed to be following. Because the movie was supposed to be "edgy." Honestly, though, including the atheism would have been much "edgier" than including a bunch of gore effects.

It didn't bother me. He looked like the comedian, and in the book, he's there for...what...five panels?
That reminds me. Making the fight scene so long was completely unnecessary. Maybe they'd have had more time to include vital plot elements if they hadn't opened the film with a long fight scene. In the book, Ozy just tosses him through the window after a minute. He doesn't batter the comedian to a bloody pulp like he does in the movie. It's totally against Ozy's personality. He didn't take joy in senseless violence.

Edited by Michelle R, 26 May 2009 - 03:53 PM.

"After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with colour, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn't it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked -- as I am surprisingly often -- why I bother to get up in the mornings. To put it the other way round, isn't it sad to go to your grave without ever wondering why you were born? Who, with such a thought, would not spring from bed, eager to resume discovering the world and rejoicing to be a part of it?"
-- Richard Dawkins

#9 Michael E. Marotta

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Posted 05 November 2009 - 08:23 PM

Blockbuster had a bunch of inventory on close-out, so I bought the movie and watched it again... twice...

Plot, theme, (plot-theme) and characterization were all identifiable and integrated. One of a handful of self-made superheroes who take responsibility for making extra-legal justice discovers a plot against them when one of their number is murdered. He rallies the remaining members to track the killer who is actually one of their own number. The theme is Justice the plot is The Pursuit of the Killer of the Comedian. The plot-theme is Justice following its trajectory to its ultimate target.

Subsidiary plots play out within the wider drama. A love triangle hinges on the complexity of one of the heroes, Dr. Manhattan, who lives a quantum-relativistic perception and who is, therefore, completely alienation from humanity at the metaphysical level. His realization that each person is unique and therefore important brings him to the conflict at a critical moment. The irony that he is blamed for the "nuclear" destruction is ultimately irrelevant to him: humanity does not touch him because he lives completely in a different frame of reference. Dr. Manhattan is easily contrasted with the protagonist "Rorschach." Unlike the government physicist who is accidentally endowed with super powers, Rorschach is a self-made man from the lowest of socio-economic strata. Whereas Dr. Manhattan's alienation from humanity distances him from it, Rorschach's horror at the depths of human depravity draw him to the pursuit of justice.

The love affair between Silk Spectre and Night Owl depends on their search for identity. The superheroes were outlawed and forced into retirement. Now, back in action to find the murderer of The Comedian, they must reconnect their lost past to their present. Night Owl-2 has been a regular drinking buddy of Night Owl-1, the hero of a previous generation. All they have is the older cop's memories. When Night Owl-2 and Silk Specter (also a 2, asher mother was Silk Specter 1), first have dinner, their conversation is a reminiscence. After dinner, caught in an alley by punks, they find their inner selves in close quarter combat. But that is incomplete, as back at Night Owl's apartment, they cannot consumate their passion -- he cannot. His internal conflict prevents an integration of personality necessary to enjoy sex as a triumph. Later, after rescuing people trapped in a fire, again working as a team, they are able to give physical expression to their shared admiration, thus underscoring the reintegration of their personalities.

The final scenes complete the search for justice. Although Ozymandias believes that he has pulled off this necessary horror to save humanity from itself, Rorschach's Journal has been delivered to a conspiracy magazine, THEN NEW FRONTIERSMAN. Thus, despite Rorschach's death at the hands of Dr. Manhattan to preserve the duplicity of Ozymandias, the truth is waiting to be revealed.

The use of rock 'n' roll music was at first compelling in its integration: The Times They Are A-Changin' at once shows the rollout of history, but also, from our point of view, rolls out this alternate history in which Dr. Manhattan won the war in Vietnam, The Comedian killed President Kennedy, and Nixon was granted a third term. So, too, did many of the other tracks provide depth of understanding. Unfortunately, this was uneven and at two places apparently gratuituous: "Sounds of Silence" for the funeral of The Comedian and Leonard Cohen's "Halleluiah" for the love-making between Night Owl and Silk Specter.

Mike M.
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#10 J.S. McGowan

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 02:04 PM

Is Rorschach as an objectivist superhero as a result of his uncompromisable dedication to a black and white moral code?
in the comic and movie: he doesn't seem to be be persistent with his morality: he brakes a bystanders fingers to coerces people into giving him information (that doesn't seem to be very objective but rather the act of a brute) when he kills the kidnapper in the movie and the book he appears to be driven more by emotion than thought, and is it "objectivist" to make oneself a martyr? Ayn Rand has specified that it is OK to lie when one is faced with death...
Id like to hear what other people think about this though. At present I am unsure of whether Rorschach can be considered an objectivist...

#11 Michael E. Marotta

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 12:50 AM

J.S., thanks for your interest I agree that your question are cogent. However, if you want to get beyond a rhetorical question and a moot point, you might want to look at the substantive literature.

Reason magazine "Rorschach doesn't Shrug" here.

The moral center of Watchmen, both the original graphic by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons and the new, much-discussed movie based on it premiering today, is a curious and prickly masked vigilante who goes by the name Rorschach. ... In the original conception of the comic book Watchmen, the characters were going to be old Charlton Comics second-string superheroes that D.C. Comics had won the rights to. In that conception, the Rorschach character would have been The Question—a character created by Steve Ditko, co-creator of Spider-Man.


You probably know that Steve Ditko is an explicit Objectivist. In addition to Spider Man, he created Mr. A., a randian character, whose calling card is black and white.

Read another discussion on Rebirth of Reason here.

If you Google "Rorschach Objectivist Saint" you can find that discussed on Objectivism Online here and also discussed http://rebirthofreason.com/Forum/GeneralForum/1411.shtmlhere on Rebirth of Reason. So, you and I might form our own opinions, but the consensus is that Objectivists find Rorschach agreeable and compelling.

Mike M.
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#12 J.S. McGowan

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 01:13 PM

thanks Mr Marotta. you provided links to interesting reads :-)
I'm still uncertain about Rorschach. but i certainly have gained some insight.
One question I have remaining is: whether Rorschach's martyrdom can be compared to Kira Argounova's in We the Living?

#13 Samson Corwell

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 08:00 PM

I only watched a "compressed" form of the movie, but I remember siding Rorschach. Hiding the truth out of paternalistic motives was just wrong. As for that Ozy guy, well that's what happens when you combine perverted utilitarianism with delusions of grandeur and a winning smile.


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