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A Brief History of Alan Moore’s Hatred of Movies Based On His Work

The outspoken comics legend isn’t a fan of adaptations of his stories. So ‘The Show’ receiving his seal of approval makes it a must-see.
V For Vendetta
Warner Bros.
By  · Published on December 18th, 2018

After spending years criticizing how Hollywood has approached adapting his iconic works, Alan Moore has finally given his seal of approval to a movie sourced from one of his stories. As reported by Empire, Protagonist Pictures has unveiled the first look at The Show, an independent fantasy film with an original screenplay by Moore that’s been helmed by frequent Moore collaborator Mitch Jenkins.

Moore hasn’t just given his blessing with this movie, though. He is also starring in it alongside Tom Burke, Siobhan Hewlett, Ellie Bamber, Sheila Atim, and Richard Dillane. The story, which takes place in Moore’s beloved town of Northampton, England, follows a man’s search for a stolen artifact that leads him on a journey filled with voodoo gangsters, masked crusaders, private dicks, and chiaroscuro women. If that synopsis isn’t enough to sell you on this, then I don’t know what will.

The Show
Protagonist Pictures

The most exciting thing about this project, though, is the fact that Moore himself is over the moon. Chatting with Deadline, he described the movie as “a piece of radical and progressive cinema that [is] also ridiculously sumptuous, involving and entertaining. A genuinely spectacular show.”

Any movie that has Moore’s passion and genius behind it is bound to be as brilliant and original as his comics and graphic novels. That said, with The Show, one thing is guaranteed: this will not be like any other movie out there. And with Moore’s newfound passion for films based on his writing, he’ll finally be able to establish a cinematic legacy that’s no longer littered with stories of him voicing his disapproval towards adaptations of his work.

Moore doesn’t crave the spotlight, nor does he care about becoming a household name in Hollywood. He’s an anarchist, a practicing magician, and an occultist whose artistic endeavors are more than just a job. A man of unwavering principles, he’s not all talk when it comes to rejecting riches, either. Not only did he demand that his name was removed from Zack Snyder‘s Watchmen movie, but he also insisted that his share of any profits went to the graphic novel’s co-creator, Dave Gibbons.

Moore’s ill feelings towards Snyder’s polarizing adaptation extend way beyond the artistic differences creators often have with adaptations of their work, though. His main issues were with the executives at DC/Time Warner, who tried to manipulate him into agreeing to the sale of products related to the film. As he told The Guardian, “I decided I didn’t want anybody at DC to ever contact me again. That was what made me curse this wretched film and everything connected with it.”

The through-line of Moore’s decision to distance himself from movie adaptations can be boiled down to disagreeing with the creative liberties Hollywood has taken with his source material. That’s understandable, though, considering that authentic portrayals of his stories in film form are considered too difficult to make. Instead, they incorporate the most basic components or reinterpret them in ways Moore believes misunderstood his original message.

The From Hell graphic novel is considered by many Moore fans to be his magnum opus. The author’s acclaimed reimagining of the Jack the Ripper murders is a dense but riveting mystery that also serves as a biting commentary about sexism, misogyny, and classism. The 2001 film, on the other hand, strips away the thought-provoking thematic elements in favor of a stylish, foggy, gore-splattered Victorian crime-horror caper starring Johnny Depp as a Sherlock Holmes-esque drunken detective. Moore wasn’t impressed with Depp’s incarnation of the character, as he called him an “absinthe-swilling dandy.”

V for Vendetta also lacks the original ideas Moore was trying to convey. When he wrote the story in the ’80s, he was commenting on the political divide in the UK at the time. The much-maligned Conservative figurehead Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, and left-wing activists were rioting in protest of her. Elsewhere, Moore was concerned about the emergence and growth of far-right groups like the National Front.

According to Moore, V for Vendetta is a political parable about fascism and anarchy in Britain. The Wachowskis-produced 2005 movie adaptation, however, was an Americanized misinterpretation of the context and themes within his epic tome.

“Those words, ‘fascism’ and ‘anarchy,’ occur nowhere in the film. It’s been turned into a Bush-era parable by people too timid to set a political satire in their own country.”

For some, the beauty of great works of literature is that they can be reinterpreted and reapplied to reflect the state of different zeitgeists. For many, the V for Vendetta movie works because of its political commentary about Bush. Moore just wasn’t a fan of the movie’s vision, but it’s arguably the best translation of his work to date. At least in terms of enjoyability factor anyway.

Of course, the less said about 2003’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the better. This movie was so unanimously panned that it marked the end of Sir Sean Connery’s acting career until he decided to make a grand comeback in 2012’s Sir Bill.

Unsurprisingly, Moore was cynical of the film from early in its development, as it bore little resemblance to the source material. Back then, though, the author seemed more open to accepting a paycheck and trying to forget that these movies existed. “As long as I could distance myself by not seeing them,” he told Comic Book Resources. “This was probably naïve on my part.”

When people started assuming that Moore’s graphic novels were like the movies, that’s when he started being more vocally critical of the Hollywood machine. I also assume that he had no interest in seeing Batman: The Killing Joke since he doesn’t even like the comic.

Hollywood and Moore aren’t the most agreeable bedfellows. But Northampton and Moore go hand in hand, therefore it’s only fitting that the first feature-length he’s actually endorsed is a home-grown affair.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.