Doc of the Day: The Mindscape of Alan Moore Review - Dan Schindel

Doc of the Day: The Mindscape of Alan Moore

Posted in Days of Docs by - July 11, 2012

Admit it; you’ve always wanted to live inside Alan Moore’s head, if only for a bit. You just didn’t know it until now.

Dir. DeZ Vylenz (yes, really), 2003, 79 min

Alan Moore is one of the great literary geniuses of the twentieth century. His work helped bring comic books into mainstream acceptance, with his sophisticated, heavily allusive and layered, and deeply psychological and pscyhoquantumphilosophical style of writing. Watchmen, From Hell, V for VendettaLost GirlsSwamp Thing, and many, many more notable works of the medium sprang from his brow. He’s more than worthy of a documentary, and he more than lives up to this one. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t much live up to him.

Just looking at Moore, you can tell that he’s either a genius or a homeless man. That confusion honestly wouldn’t be cleaned up much by talking to him. After all, the man is a practicing magician who worships an ancient Roman snake-deity named Glycon (which is well-known as a hoax). Moore cares little for the conforming concerns of the likes of mortals such as us. Much like his character Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen, his consciousness seems to be on a higher plane. He’s constantly mulling over time, space, life, the universe, and everything. And yet he’s also an extremely grounded fellow, which makes him all the odder.

The movie amounts to little more than an extended soliloquy from Moore, dealing with his thoughts on writing, fame, religion, drugs, information, sex, and creativity. He’s masterful at distilling himself into catchy, homespun Northampton wisdom. Occasionally there are reenactments of brief snippets of his work, or creative interpretations of them, such as a scene from V for Vendetta or a Ken Burns-ish presentation of a psychedelic sex scene from Swamp Thing. If you aren’t familiar with his stuff, it gives a pretty good idea of what he’s about. But really, to best understand Moore is to just read his work. You’ll enjoy this movie without knowing about it, but to truly get where he’s coming from requires some outside information, and on that level, the doc kind of fails.

But where it really falters is in the presentation. The movie looks like a bootleg religious video from the eighties, which is actually a pretty great fit for the material. But it can’t escape the fact that this film is all wallpapering. There’s nothing, not even the reenactments, to justify this subject’s existence in this medium. It might as well be a written essay. Sure, you’d lose out on Moore’s rough yet soothing low-class drawl, but that’s it.

To be sure, this is a fun movie. Moore’s idea are rapturous and brain-swelling. Like the title says, this truly is a look inside his head (and I can believe that the inside of his head looks like a bootleg video), and it could very well make you see the world through that view for a while. It’s a strange, terrifying, and beautiful thing to behold. It’s a universe where everything is happening all at once in one “hyper-moment,” where ideas are energy and thought shapes reality. Space-time is shaped like a football, and life is strange fiction.

Moore is way too brilliant and crazy for this movie. In the end, you feel only like you’ve scraped a tiny shaving off of the diamond as big as The Ritz, rather than grasped anything like what Alan Moore really is. Maybe he would be too big for a three-hour movie or even a miniseries, but this isn’t enough simply through a lack of trying. And that’s why it falls short.

This post was written by
Dan Schindel is a writer and editor. He lives and works in Los Angeles.
%d bloggers like this: