When the Zack Snyder-directed film adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic 1986 DC Comics miniseries Watchmen was released in March, for a while, it was the talk of the town. Audiences and critics alike were sharply divided on the film and much debate was inspired among hardcore fans of the original miniseries as to the flaws and merits of the cinematic adaptation.
In my opinion the film of Watchmen had its problems but still remained a memorable viewing experience that was bound to improve with repeat viewings. One of the problems I had with the film was that in their quest to cram the sprawling and complex adult-oriented storyline into a two and a half hour film, the filmmakers had to sacrifice a great deal of character beats, including a scene depicting the brutal murder of Hollis Mason (the original Nite Owl).
That scene has been reinstated for the Watchmen director’s cut being released on DVD and Blu-Ray July 21. If you cannot wait until then to see it then it is available for viewing now on YouTube right now.
In the original miniseries, Mason’s death was one of the emotional highpoints of the story but it was mostly kept out of view. What was once left to the reader’s imagination has been beautifully realized on film and, best of all, gives the underrated Stephen McHattie one more chance to shine in the role. The scene is underscored by the intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana by the Italian composer Pietro Mascagni, an emotionally soaring piece that was previously used in the films Raging Bull and The Godfather Part III. Look closely during the opening moments of the scene and you will see pages from the Tales of the Black Freighter comic that closely resemble the animated short film that was released a few months ago. A tease for an inevitable even longer version? We will soon find out.