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Watch: the trailer for Alan Moore’s “Jimmy’s End"

What the only film approved by the godfather of graphic novels will look like.

The trailer for Alan Moore’s forthcoming film Jimmy’s End has been released by the Guardian. The two-part collaborative endeavour (he’s writing, photographer Mitch Jenkins is directing) was announced by The Creators Project in June. Act of Faith, an eerie eighteen minute prelude to the “noir-flecked” film, can be viewed online here.

In a wordless ninety seconds awash with macabre visuals (think sumptuous drapery, be-corseted harlequins and lots of heavy makeup), Jimmy’s End sets the tone for a continuation of the “unfamiliar atmospheres, precarious entertainments, and insidious detail” introduced in Act of Faith.

Have a look:

This is Moore’s first screenwriting project, a cinematic foray made all the mo(o)re interesting by his outspoken critique of any and every film ever made from his comics. Many adaptations of his sequential art endeavours (including Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) have made it to the screen, and Moore has famously denouncement them all. Following a plagiarism lawsuit put forth by a Hollywood producer after the film version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in 2003, the author declared henceforth that any film based on his work must drop his name and give Moore’s payout to the comic’s artists.

Of the 2005 V for Vendetta film, he said: “The screenplay was nothing to do with the story that I wrote. My story was hijacked into something that it was never meant to be discussing. That put me through a year of ranting, ferocious, black anger. “

And of 2009’s Watchmen: “Sounds like more regurgitated worms. I for one am sick of worms. I can tell you that I will also be spitting venom all over it for months to come.”

He’s even questioned the viability of comics as films in general and has called the modern comics industry a “pumpkin patch” for “growing franchises that might be profitable for the ailing movie industry”. He told Time Out in 2009:  

I wanted to give comics a special place when I was writing things like Watchmen. I wanted to show off just what the possibilities of the comic book medium were. And films are completely different. This assumption that if something works in one medium it will work as well or better in another, I've got no idea where that comes from.

Such biting antics are not wholly without a sense of irony – Moore once told Stewart Lee that turning down hefty royalty payments on the basis of pride has been difficult, and if there was a God punishing him for his hubris “at least he’s got a sense of humour”.

Click here to revisit Helen Lewis' excellent Q&A with Moore last year.


(Screen grab from Act of Faith. PHOTO: Mitch Jenkins and Alan Moore)

(Screen grab from Act of Faith. PHOTO: Mitch Jenkins and Alan Moore)

(Miss Khandie Kisses on the set of Jimmy’s End. PHOTO: Mitch Jenkins and Alan Moore)

(Mitch and Alan on the set of Jimmy's End. PHOTO: Mitch Jenkins and Alan Moore)

All photographs taken from Mitch Jenkins' behind the scenes blog.

Jimmy’s End is due to be released 25th November.


Charlotte Simmonds is a writer and blogger living in London. She was formerly an editorial assistant at the New Statesman. You can follow her on Twitter @thesmallgalleon.

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Shell-shock symphony: Berg’s Wozzeck – opera’s take on post-traumatic stress disorder

Begun in 1914 and premiered in 1925, Wozzeck has class struggle, poverty and mental health problems as its principal subjects.

When I was 12 years old, I made a devastating discovery. The arias from my favourite operas – Rigoletto, Turandot, The Barber of Seville – which I played over and over again, winding and rewinding the cassettes ­until they ceased to work, did not ­necessarily have words that matched the beauty of the music. Intense study of a book I had received for Christmas called Stories from Opera taught me that although some of the soaring melodies I adored carried words about love, death, horror and tragedy, other lyrics, in translation, proved to be people agreeing where to meet later, or misremembering each other’s names.

This crushing disappointment came to mind again recently while I was listening to an edition of Radio 3’s Building a Library, a segment of its regular Saturday-morning CD review, in which new releases are compared and contrasted with archive recordings to find the best listening experience. The reviewer Gillian Moore was surveying the available recordings of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck. She gave credit to several English-language recordings for the clarity they offer newcomers to this work, but eventually concluded that she must recommend a version using the original German, because there were crucial aural elements that could not be reproduced without it.

Moore, now director of music at the Southbank Centre, chose to kick off a series of semi-staged concert performances of operas with Wozzeck. Although undoubtedly an opera, it was a far cry from the fairy stories and doomed romances that filled my pre-teen ears, but it worked surprisingly well stripped of scenery, costumes and other theatrical accoutrements.

Zurich Opera’s presentation placed importance on the orchestral score above all else, allowing its jagged and insistent lines to remind us that this is music born of the dark years between the world wars. Begun in 1914, but delayed while Berg served in the Austro-Hungarian army (it premiered in 1925), it has class struggle, poverty and mental health problems as its principal subjects. The score owes much to Berg’s fellow Viennese composers Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg (Mahler’s widow put up the money for the initial publication of the score). At times in this production, the orchestra was so utterly central that it felt like a symphony with singing, rather than vocal melodies with accompaniment.

The Wozzeck of the title is a poor soldier, flawed and dogged by madness and visions we would probably now see as signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. He scrapes a living for his girlfriend, Marie, and their son by humiliating himself before his military and class superiors (the Captain, the Doctor, the Drum Major) and by participating in degrading medical “experiments”. The star of the show, the German baritone Christian Gerhaher, had to withdraw at the last minute for health reasons, so the British singer Leigh Melrose stepped in to reprise his Wozzeck from the widely acclaimed 2013 ENO production. Despite performing from behind a music stand, Melrose acquitted himself well, handling the transitions between Berg’s three singing styles: “half-singing”, Sprechgesang (or “spoken singing”) and full vocalisation to great effect.

Gun-Brit Barkmin, with a severe Twenties bob and a flowing scarlet dress, was a superb Marie – alternately harsh and soft as the music demanded it, flirting destructively with the Drum Major while conveying how little choice she had in the matter. Of the ensemble, Lars Woldt’s Doctor particularly stood out, using the German libretto to drag every ounce of black comedy out of his character’s fascination with Wozzeck’s bodily functions. The high vocal standard proved Moore’s point about the necessity of the original German libretto – it is a difficult language to sing, because of all the harsh consonants and modified vowels, but when used expertly can be unendingly expressive. We hear this in the way the double “zz” of the title character’s name becomes a derisory bitten-off “tz” in the mouth of the Captain; and Wozzeck’s exclamation in Act I that “Du, der Platz ist verflucht!” sounds so much more accursed and deranged with all those consonants in such close proximity.

The German sociologist Theodor Adorno once called Berg “the foreign minister of the land of his dreams”, much to the composer’s amusement; but, hearing the score for Wozzeck laid so bare, you understand what Adorno meant. The incredible double crescendo on a single B from the orchestra after Wozzeck murders Marie – raised by the conductor Fabio Luisi in this performance to an unbearable volume before being allowed to die away – feels like music from an other-worldly nightmare. Yet, for the war-battered men who inspired Wozzeck, his tragic half-life was all too real.

Caroline Crampton is web editor of the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 08 October 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Putin vs Isis