DVD Review: The Mindscapes of Alan Moore

Review: The Mindscapes of Alan Moore

There’s a wizened old piece of conspiracy theory that says if you are aware of the Illuminati, that means you have become Illuminati. It does not define what the powers-behind-the-curtain truly are. You are “illuminated” because Toto pulled the curtain back and given you a glimpse of the Wizard.

As Dorothy found out, the Wizard was a lot of things, but not what he wanted everyone to think he was.

When it comes to Alan Moore, one gets the impression the comic book genius, performer, self-declared musician and whatever else prefers you wouldn’t define him either, thank you very much. What can be said is the man who’s populated our world with the likes of John Constantine, The Watchmen, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V and the Lost Girls is probably this: he would probably prefer to sit in his flat in Northampton and be left alone to study Hermetic Qabalah and the Principia Discordia one minute; Stephen Hawking and JG Ballard the next. Yet here he is, the star attraction of a 2-disc DVD covering his work up to 2006. It features an 80-minute lecture from Moore himself, as well as interviews of notable creators he’s associated with including Dave Gibbons, second wife Melinda Gebbie, David Lloyd and comic historian Paul Gravett.

Directed by Dez Vylenz, the main film is divided into three parts, which in the extra content the director explains should be seen as basic Moore biography, Moore’s perception of the world around him and then his thoughts on the future. Like a truly entertaining raconteur, Moore can mix his anecdotes and stories in ways that can truly be spellbinding. He discusses his rise to fame with charm with a nice touch of self-effacement. His commentary about how society handles fame is as pointed and sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel. His conclusion that the world is truly chaos and absolutely no one is in control is presented with the skill of a seasoned debater.

Throughout this, Vylenz peppers Moore’s exegesis with images of Rorschach reading from his diary, Constantine roaming the streets of London, images of the Tarot and other mystical props, and some subtle special effects. Yes, Moore looks like a cross between an aging heavy metal star and Rubeus Hagrid, but it gives the film a solid focus for everything else Vylenz drops in to break the tension. The only problem with the presentation is Moore’s voice is sometimes so soft spoken you find yourself being lulled into a daze and miss a vital point or three. This can be a problem as Moore does have some vital things to say. The side subjects also have their incredible moments, particularly Gibbons and Lloyd.

Is there room for improvement? Sure. We honestly didn’t need interviews with the SFX guy or soundtrack composer. If you are going to do a biography of a modern writer, shouldn’t a detailed and easily accessible bibliography be mandatory? If so, why wasn’t it included? Also, a little more about Moore’s ABC titles would most certainly have been appreciated.

Quibbling aside, while this documentary isn’t perfect, it certainly is an incredibly vast improvement over most of the self-serving and critically shallow other histories of the comic book industry and its creators. If you aren’t careful, Moore might actually drop a theory or two into your head that just won’t go away no matter how hard you or the Illuminati try.

As it stands, we all know Zack Snyder is hard at work at blowing our socks off with a Watchmen feature film. It should also be noted that Moore is supposedly getting several new lines of comic books together and Vylenz is hard at work on a documentary about the martial arts. They should all start dropping in the very near future.

As for this documentary, one could say Vylenz pulled the curtain back on Moore and gave us a glimpse. That doesn’t mean he’s truly defined Moore, or if he ever truly will. Don’t be surprised if Mindscape causes as much debate as any of Moore’s best works though. Just take it for what it is and be comforted you got this much.

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