NEW YORK (Dagbladet): The new Watchtower series on HBO is based on the classic graphic novel of the same name, created in the 1980s by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
At the time, the books were about the alternative United States in which Richard Nixon was still president, and the great fear was nuclear war. The new series is set to alternate US in 2019 and may seem eerily up-to-date.
– When we decided to air the series in 2019, we had to answer the question: What is the current cultural moment in the US? What creates fear? The answer for me was undoubtedly racism and distrust of authority. Not only the police, but the top teams of public authorities. If the people we are responsible for law enforcement decide that the law does not apply to them, they make them awake, who can do whatever they want, Lindelof explains to Dagbladet where he sits and meets with world journalists on the back floor of the modern Gramercy Park Hotel in Novi York.
He likes the best
Lindelof himself is a big fan of original books and says that in addition to difficult topics, he has tried to preserve some of the absurd qualities in them. Throughout the episode, viewers are exposed to a variety of genres. Something is a black and white movie from the 1920s. Something becomes a musical. Then Jeremy Irons appears naked. About that later.
– I always make TV that the audience doesn't understand. That's the kind of story I like the most, one that draws people into a world where they don't know the rules yet, and they'll have to finally figure it out. So is life. We have to do it again and again. There is no user guide. You have to figure things out on your own or through the community, Lindelof says.
He thinks watching the first episode of the new series raises many questions.
– You know one of the main characters was killed. You want to know why. You want to know why the police wear masks. You want to know why police can't use guns. You will know many things. Over the course of nine episodes, you'll get the answers, Lindelof promises.
He also tells how the original "keeper's books" influenced him when he created "Lost."
– They influenced me in so many ways. In almost every issue of Watchmen, much was seen from the perspective of one of the characters in the group. We did the same thing in Lost. We also used non-linear storytelling in which we jumped back and forth in time and mixed genres, Lindelof explains.
Oscar winner Regina King has the lead role, as a very independent former police investigator, Angela Abar.
– Many of us wonder what happens to an athlete who destroys his Achilles heel. How is it coming back? Or how about being with drummer Def Leppard, who loses his arm but finds another way to do it. My character's version is that no one should know what she's doing, but she can still protect them, explains King Dagbladet.
She herself had nothing to do with the original graphic novels.
– This is one of the few cases in my career where the question is: What do you want people to get out of it? And my answer is: I want them to have their own individual experiences. I think the only thing that might be in common with them is that there was a lot to do, King explains.
The worst racial violence
The series is set in alternative Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2019, but also dates back to the racial riots and massacres that took place there in 1921. At that time, white people were attacking the residents of Montenegro and their businesses around Greenwood.
At the time, this was the most African-American neighborhood in the United States and was called Black Wall Street. The riots have been cited as the worst single case of racial violence in American history. 35 blocks destroyed. 800 people ended up in the hospital. and probably between 100 and 300 people were killed.
– The question was how can we have fun attacking such topical and serious issues. Today, especially in this country, there is no greater theme than racism and police violence. Drawing on the historic Black Wall Street event, it's also a reminder of how far we haven't come. Or how much we choose to rewrite history, King says.
Lindelof himself describes a cultural moment in which we find ourselves dangerous.
– We are in a cultural moment where the needles are red. The idea of a decent discussion is gone. Now these are short letters with capital letters. We enter into these interactions with the fists attached, ready to fight. We are all very tense. It's a very complicated and dangerous place, Lindelof says, adding:
– Although it sounds very politically correct, I think it's true: We all need to listen more.
– It's nice to sit naked
British Hollywood star Jeremy Irons (71) adds to the absurd qualities of the series. He plays the role of Ozymandias, a highly intelligent and eccentric British nobleman, operating in an isolated place completely separate from the rest of the story.
In one of the first scenes, he sits naked and writes a play while being massaged by his two assistants.
– They told me I could sit in a dress or naked. I thought it was pretty weird sitting there naked. And it is immediately made clear that the other two mean nothing to him. I do what it takes to make a character. The character has some interesting, enigmatic and bizarre traits, Irons says and smiles.
He had never heard of the Guards before Lindelof persuaded him to play the role, explains Dagbladet. But this is not his first role in one of the popular superhero franchises in recent years. Irons starred in 2016's "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice"
– There used to be great western movies. These are superheroes. I think it has something to do with the fact that people living in cities have a desire to escape the boredom of their lives and imagine themselves as people with limitless abilities. It will be interesting to see how long this trend continues. And this series definitely has more bone-in meat than many others in the same genre.
Like Dagbladet Kultur on Facebook