The Mindscape of Alan Moore

Format: DVD

Release date: 28 April 2008

Distributor: Shadowsnake Films

Director: Dez Vylenz

UK 2003

80 mins

Comics artist and founder of London Underground Comics Oli Smith reviews Dez Vylenz’s documentary on Alan Moore.

Do you like Alan Moore, comics writer extraordinaire? Me too.
Will you like Alan Moore after watching this bazillion-hour-long documentary about him? God knows.

I first watched this movie at the Brighton Comics expo in 2006 and the big screen and shiny graphics juxtaposed with Moore’s husky tones delivering words of wisdom blew me away. I watched it again at another comics convention the following year, then bought it on DVD to show me mum. She sat through it, got bored, fell asleep, woke up and turned to me during the ending credits to say:

‘Does he really believe all that rubbish he’s talking?’

Followed by:

‘THAT’s your hero?’

Ending with a condescending sniff and reinforced idea that I should do something useful with my life.

And that’s the problem; Alan Moore is too ironic for a film such as this. Mindscape takes itself too seriously, hanging on every word from the master and representing them with pretentious imagery. The whimsical details of his life and philosophy, culminating in a quite frankly ludicrous world view (although meticulously justified), are fascinating if you love the man, but if you do love him, you already know that it all needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Sure Moore is an idealist, but he’s an entertainer first, and that’s what he’s good at. The best moments of the film are the reconstructions of scenes from his comics with Moore narrating. His capacity to realise the voices in his head, especially Rorschach from Watchmen, is stunningly good. But dear god there’s padding. Maybe Dez Vylenz couldn’t afford a cutting room session after forking out all that money to make a man walk backwards in slow motion with his hand on fire. If only the running time had been cut to an hour, it could have been THE definitive documentary on Mr Moore.

Included on the disc are a series of interviews with various other artists and writers talking about the projects they worked on with Moore, but I didn’t have the strength to sit through them. Having met some of them in person, it’s a shame these interviews couldn’t have been incorporated into the main feature; they could have put some much needed perspective onto the ramblings of a man whose REAL persona remains a mystery to me to this day.

This is a lovely package for Alan Moore fans (it comes in a cardboard sleeve!) and I’m sure the special features give an even greater insight into the mind of the great man but to me it works only in context, and as such is probably not the best thing to convert your mates into graphic novel whores.

V for Vendetta is.

Oli Smith