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Watchmen, $Alchemy_Keywords

How the ‘Watchmen’ Team Carefully Crafted the Emotional Lynching Scene

In the sixth episode of HBO’s “Watchmen” adaptation, entitled “This Extraordinary Being,” Angela Abar (Regina King) lives inside her grandfather’s memories of how he became the vigilante Hooded Jus…

8/11/2020 12:15:00 AM

Damon Lindelof says there was debate whether or not to use the n-word in the series in Watchmen , 'but Cord Jefferson and many of the other writers of color in the room were unanimous about the idea of, ‘That’s even more racist to not use the word'

In the sixth episode of HBO’s “ Watchmen ” adaptation, entitled “This Extraordinary Being,” Angela Abar (Regina King) lives inside her grandfather’s memories of how he became the vigilante Hooded Jus…

” adaptation, entitled “This Extraordinary Being,” Angela Abar (Regina King) lives inside her grandfather’s memories of how he became the vigilante Hooded Justice. In one harrowing sequence, Angela experiences how a cabal of white supremacists in the NYPD attacked Will (Jovan Adepo) in an alleyway while a haunting love song plays in the background. The cops dragged Will to Central Park and lynched him, with the camera taking Will’s point of view from inside the black hood they pulled over his face as they hanged him from the tree. After 10 agonizing seconds, they cut him down, and delivered this warning: “You keep your Black nose out of white folks’ business, n—–. Or the next time, we won’t cut you down.”

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Cord JeffersonCo-writer“Damon [Lindelof, showrunner] is a fan of homework in his writers’ room. The assignment for one of them was: What spawns Hooded Justice to go into action on his first night in battle in New York City? So I think about a Black man who wears a noose around his neck. To me, the most obvious connection was that this is somebody who has suffered from at least one act of serious racial violence, and probably the noose that he carries around his neck would be what was used in his attempted lynching. I think by the time that we started discussing this we’d already decided that he would be in the New York police force. Knowing what we know about so many police forces, particularly the police force in the 1920s and ‘30s and how they might respond to a Black person being in their ranks, it made sense to me that he ran afoul of the other police officers in some way. And so in order to teach him a lesson they’re going to lynch him.”

Stephen WilliamsDirector“There was the technical challenge of how do you stay in this character’s point of view while he’s undergoing this horrific experience of being lynched. We started to piece together how we were going to transfer the camera from the operators hands to a device that the grips constructed that would be hoisted into the air over a branch of the tree, held there for the required amount of time, roughly 10 seconds, and then lowered back into the waiting arms of our camera operator, who was then going to continue the sequence as if it were all one unbroken shot. The whole exercise was designed to create as subjectively immersive an experience as possible.”

Gregory MiddletonCinematographer“We had to build a custom rig for Will being dragged towards the trees, so we could have the legs being pulled, and have the camera being pulled with them, to keep the person low to the ground and make it really appear like he’s being dragged. And we rigged a small hose up to the matte box [on the camera] to imitate his breathing, so the hood wouldn’t just be a thing sliding over the camera and just hanging there. We wanted to feel it moving, so we had a bladder so you can blow air and you could see his breath, so you could really feel like you were hanging if you were Will.”

Justin ReimerStunt coordinator“It was one of the hardest scenes I think I’ve been involved with emotionally because of what is happening in the scene. In terms of a stunt sequence, it’s very simple, but it’s a matter of not overdoing the stunts. You could make that scene where he got hit 100 times and you drag him all over the place. I think we probably took the violence down from originally where we thought it was going to be, so the focus stayed on the emotion. Don’t let the stunt outdo the emotion of the scene.”

Trent ReznorCo-composer“We get this call from Damon: ‘Hey, I hate to ask you [but] for this integral scene, they won’t f—ing license us the song [we want]. In fact, the publisher said, “Not only will I not license you that song, I won’t license any song we have for that scene.” We need something that has to sound like it’s from the period, but it also needs to hit all these beats, because we’ve cut the scene. And we have to do it a week.’ I got the idea of ‘holding you in my embrace,’ as those guys are dragging him away — as if it were lovers speaking to each other, but juxtaposed over that scene, what’s happening could feel particularly goosebump-cringey, in a way.”

Damon LindelofShowrunner Read more: Variety »

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