WatchMen Opening Credits/Alternate History

I wonder if I am the only one on this site who found himself in a late night screening of Watchmen on Thursday or Friday of last week…

Anyway, I really enjoyed the montage in the beginning of the film that sets up the alternate history. It was a very creative touch to bring the audience up to speed, set to “Times They are a-Changing” by Bob Dylan. The Watchmen opening credits clip can be seen here for the time being. If that link doesn’t work, you may find a new clip of it on YouTube that  has not yet been removed because of its copyrighted status. The few I found were taken down in a matter of hours.

I just wanted to comment on some of the things in that montage. You see, the trouble with doing an alternate history is that it may be lost on those who are not familiar with actual history. I found that many of the people waiting in line with me were barely old enough to get a ticket.  Many were clearly not versed in historical Americana. For example, I started laughing as soon as I saw Silhoutte walking up to the nurse after you see the “Japan Surrenders” headline on V-J day. The scene is an alternate history/parody of the sailor kissing the nurse in the famous WWII picture below (notice that the sailor was in the background of the montage scene). But I awkwardly found that I was the only one laughing until she planted a smooch on the nurses lips. I think they were laughing only because they saw two girls kiss. Haha. Lesbians.

Image taken the day victory was declared over Japan, ending the war

Image taken the day victory was declared over Japan, ending the war.

I also read a comment on Youtube to effect that the writer was disturbed by the image of the girl putting a flower in the barrel of a gun, then getting shot. That’s understandable, but he seemed oblivious of the actual historical significance of that image. It is from another famous war picture, shown below. Because of the similarity between the image below and the film shot in watchmen, I think I had better make clear that in reality the soldiers did not open fire. That too is alternate history.
Picture taken at 1967 war protest outside the Pentagon. It became a symbol of the innocence of the movement on one hand, and the disproportionate force used by the government on the other.

Picture taken at 1967 war protest outside the Pentagon. It became a symbol of the innocence of the peace movement on one hand, and the disproportionate use of force by the government on the other.

On a finer point, The JFK assassination has some noticeable differences with actual history (like the Comedian being the second gunman on the grassy knoll–a nice touch). If you watch the original footage, JFK’s head whips forward and the blood mist is to his front. The reenactment makes his head whip backward, and I think I can see blood spraying out behind him along the back of the car. This of course makes it appear that the shot came from the grassy knoll to JFK’s front, instead of coming from the book depository to his rear. I also like how the Comedian puffs his cigar right before he leaves, a possible reference to witnesses claiming to see smoke coming from the grassy knoll.

If you’re interested, here’s an ABC special that debunks the second gunman theory:


2 Responses to “WatchMen Opening Credits/Alternate History”

  1. P Woodson Says:

    Thanks for your analysis– it seems there are a lot of young folks out there who think the soldiers really DID open fire on the flower-proffering protestors. That shot disturbed me because I knew the actual history, and did not expect the point-blank murders of that girl and the others.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    you forgot to mention the best one… When they are all at the table paying homage to the last supper. My favorite.

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