Fans of Watchmen have a bonus headed their way as Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter/Under the Hood heads their way on Blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday, March 24. The DVD will contain two features - an animated presentation of "Tales of the Black Freighter" - the comic within a comic from the Watchmen graphic novel, and "Under the Hood", a mockumentary about the autobiography from Hollis Mason/Nite Owl I.
Alex Tse is the screenwriter behind the "Tales of the Black Freighter" segment, although he wrote it without knowing what the final incarnation would be.
"Black Freighter went through a lot of incarnations - we talked about doing it live action, then 300 green screen-style, then we decided it would be animated - so I wrote it without a firm idea of the format," said Tse, who had not previously written for animation. "I guess I just didn't treat it any differently than any writing project I normally undertake. And I'm guessing this was probably like nothing I ever will work on again."
"Tales of the Black Freighter" was presented as a comic-within-a-comic in the graphic novel version of Watchmen, and concerns a sea captain (voiced by 300's Gerard Butler) whose ship is attacked by the pirates of the Black Freighter. In his desperate attempts to get home before the freighter arrives, he delves into madness and desperation, leading him to commit attrocities of his own. This story acts as a reflection of the arc taken by several of the heroes of Watchmen, most notably Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias.
"In the book, I think it was written as a parallel to the Watchmen story - with one major difference," Tse said. "In Black Freighter, the sea captain thinks everything he is doing is for a good purpose. But then he realizes, no matter how well intentioned his acts have been, he has done some horrible things. In Watchmen, even though Adrian Veidt says he realizes the consequences of his actions and that he has made himself feel each death he has caused, he never seems to express that pain or sorrow. There's no real remorse for what he's done. So either he doesn't fully realize it or he just doesn't care."
Tse made a strong effort to keep the plight of the captain and his descent into madness grounded in situations which would be relatable to the audience.
"I am not a huge fan of movies where you're just watching someone go crazy - as a viewer, it's hard to connect to that idea," Tse said. "You need to be able to relate to his situation, to understand why he's going insane. With Black Freighter, it was important to keep it grounded in the cause of his madness. He's been through a traumatic experience, he's alone, and now he's doing anything he can to get back to his home and save his family. So when he does these horrible, crazy things, you know he's doing it to try and save what is dearest to him. An audience can understand that situation."
They're in the book. And on this disc. From the director of Watchmen and 300 come two tales from the celebrated graphic novel that do not appear in the extraordinary Watchmen Theatrical Feature. Tales of the Black Freighter (featuring the voice of 300's Gerard Butler) brings to strikingly animated life the novels richly layered story-within-a-story, a daring pirate saga whose turbulent events may mirror those in the Watchmen's world. Stars from the Watchmen movie team in the amazing live-action/CGI Under the Hood, based on Nite Owls powerful first-hand account of how the hooded adventurers came into existence. Two fan-essential stories. One place to watch the excitement. Watching the Watchmen begins here. Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter/Under the Hood is available on DVD, Blu-Ray and on-Demand on March 24, 2009.