Zack Snyder, director of the upcoming Watchmen film, has admitted he faces a daunting task in taking the novel's "sacred pages" to the screen.

Alan Moore's acclaimed graphic novel, heralded by many to be the greatest comic book ever written, has taken a tortuous route to cinemas, with directors such as Paul Greengrass, Terry Gilliam and Darren Aronofsky, as well as screenwriter David Hayter, attached to the project.

Moore's book, published by DC Comics as a monthly limited series in 1986 and 1987, tells of a group of 'superheroes' - without superpowers - whose role in society is called into question in a mid-80s US nearing nuclear war.

But while Moore has refused to be associated with the film - as with all adaptations of his work - artist Dave Gibbons has professed his support for 300 director Snyder, whose attachment to the film was announced in June 2006.

The first trailer for the movie version of what Empire calls the "Citizen Kane of comic books" was released earlier this month and Snyder has told the magazine he never envisaged making the film.

"I never thought the stars would align," he told the magazine. "I thought it would get made before I even thought about making it."

He went on: "I think enough time's gone by, and people are realising where Watchmen sits in the landscape of comic books.

"Now it's like we're dealing with sacred pages, where before it was fine to put Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie.

"But all those things have come together and made me able to go 'These pages are sacred, we need to do it like this.'"

Producer Lloyd Levine also moved to stress the care with which the filmmakers are treating the adaptation explaining: "It's simply the greatest comic ever written. It's that simple.

"There's a thing with Watchmen that scares the s**t out of you at the same time as it excites you. But we've all taken a blood oath that we're not going to f**k it up."

Watchmen is released in March 2009.

01/08/2008 00:01:01