Verse broadens the mind, scientists find

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Verse broadens the mind, scientists find

RICHARD GRAY (rgray@scotlandonsunday.com)

IF LITERATURE is food for the
 mind, then a poem is a banquet, according to research by Scottish scientists
 which shows poetry is better for the brain than prose.

Psychologists at Dundee
and St Andrews universities claim the work of poets such as Lord
Byron exercise the mind more than a novel by Jane Austen. By monitoring the way
different forms of text are read, they found poetry generated far more eye
 movement which is associated with deeper thought.

Subjects were found to read
 poems slowly, concentrating and re-reading individual lines more than they did with 
prose. Preliminary studies using brain-imaging technology also showed greater
 levels of cerebral activity when people listened to poems being read aloud. Dr
Jane Stabler, a literature expert at St Andrews University and a member of the research group, believes poetry 
may stir latent preferences in the brain for rhythm and rhymes that develop
 during childhood. She claims the intense imagery woven through poems, and 
techniques used by poets to unsettle their readers, force them to think more
 carefully about each line. “There seems to be an almost immediate
 recognition that this is a different sort of language that needs to be 
approached in a way that will be more attentive to the density of words in
 poetry,” she said. “It may be because readers are trying to hear the 
words or recreate the imaginary event the poet has provided a script for.
” Also, children seem to be born with a love of rhyme and rhythm. Then
 something happens and by the time we see them in the first year at university
 many of them are almost frightened of poetry and clamouring to study the
 contemporary novel.”

To study readers’ reactions,
 the research group focused an infrared beam on the pupils of their eyes to
 detect minute movements as they read.

They found poetry produced 
all the standard psychological indications associated with intellectual
 difficulty, such as slow deliberate movement, re-reading sections and long
 pauses. Even when they used identical content but displayed it in both a poem
 format and a prose format, they discovered readers found the poem form the more
 difficult to understand. Stabler said: “When readers decide that something
 is a poem, they read in a different way. As literary critics we would like to 
think that this is a more thoughtful way, more receptive to the text’s richness
 and complexity, but in psychological terms it is the same sort of reading
 produced by a dyslexic reader who finds reading difficult. “We focused on
 poetry that disturbs or unsettles readers like the work of Lord Byron. “We
 found that his stanza form in Don Juan does make subjects read more quickly
 than readers focusing on the rhymes of an elegy in a similar metre.”

Stabler believes those
 reading other poets, such as Robert Burns, would show similar increases in
 brain activity.

The group hopes to use
 Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans to watch how the brain reacts as people 
listen to poetry and prose. Early results suggest a larger area of the brain
 lights up in the scans upon hearing poetry by Byron than prose by Austen. The 
research has profound implications for the way English literature is taught in
 schools, and Stabler believes they should consider placing greater emphasis on 
teaching youngsters poetry.

Both rhythm and rhyme have been found to be
 intricately linked with making and recalling memories. Stabler asked: “If 
poetry helps to stir memory, might it be useful in the treatment of age-related
 or injury related memory problems?” Dr Martin Fischer, an experimental
 psychologist at Dundee University involved in the project, claims the findings could 
also form the basis for producing new techniques for helping dyslexic children.
 He said: “It certainly has implications for children who have certain
 difficulties, like in dyslexia where a rhyming deficiency could be compensated
 for by exposing them to more poetry.” Members of the literary world have
 welcomed the research and insist it underlines the importance poetry has played 
in literature.

Bestselling crime novelist Ian Rankin said too many people felt
 intimidated by poetry without realising it was designed to be challenging. He
 said: “Novels first began as a form of poetry where story telling was used
 to pass tales from one generation to the next. This was done with rhythm and
 rhyme as it made the stories easier to remember. “We are even seeing that
 today with song lyrics – the only way rap artists can remember all those lyrics
 is because they have rhythm and rhyme. “Not many people pick up books of 
poetry anymore to read. You have to wonder if people find them too hard. “
Edwin Morgan, the nation’s official Makar, the Scottish equivalent of the poet
 laureate, added: “Writing poetry is almost a physical experience as well
 as mental. Children are rarely worried about extracting too much meaning from
 poems, but they seem to get a much deeper experience from it.”

October 18, 2009 at 1:02 pm Leave a comment

Go buy the DVD, now!!

Brittney Werts

 

James McTeigue‘s 2005 film “V for Vendetta” staring Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman tries to bring Alan Moore’s comic book character to the big screen. Though his ideas come together well in one hundred thirty two minutes, they maybe a bit too much for your typical movie goer to absorb in such a short period of time. However, I feel it is a must-see movie for all Americans, not just because of its action and amazing plot twist, but for the symbolic undertones and call for change.

 

The film traces V’s rise to power as he puts together his plan to change the state of his country. Several events force V and Natalie Portman’s character, Evey, together. Throughout the film you see his skill of manipulation and how he grooms her to be his successor to carry on his ideas.

 

Through the course of the film we get a closer idea of who V really is. Though we never find out his true identity, the back drop of the film reveals how V became the “humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate.” The more and more we uncover, we see just how the nation came upon its chaotic state and our curiosity behind V’s motives are satisfied. Through the myriad of events-the blowing up of buildings, kidnapping, shooting, stabbing, biological experimentation and vicious harangues from a hostile Hitleresque leader, we too are drawn into the movie. Perhaps this movie is more entertaining than I led you to believe, but I’ll let you be the judge.

 

I will tell you however, that the movie serves well as an ingenious and masterfully woven quilt of social commentary. From the social issue of the fear of homosexuals, to the political issues of government leaders abusing their power and even biological research on human beings, the film causes us to question the current and possible future state of our nation. In the opening dialogue from on England’s BTN news anchors Prothero, he mentions that “the former United States” has in his eyes become “Ulcered Sphincter of Arse-erica.” You immediately want to ask yourself, “how did we get to such a state?” I feel that McTeigue is deliberately making a warning to us. The events depicted in V for Vendetta, mirror those of a post 9/11 United States and are a possible omen.

 

The theme that the media plays a major role as a mass influencer is clearly seen in the film. The fact that there is only one news station shows that there is no objectivity. The station is “coincidentally” run by Dascomb, one of Chancellor Adam Sutler’s minions, this shows how the government plays an even bigger role in what the masses can and can’t know.  With his quote “our job is to report the news, not fabricate it… that’s the government’s job,” Dascomb is illustrating this theme even further.

 

            Another theme that is displayed well in the film is that nothing is a coincidence. As the plot unfolds before us, we see just how each and every character is connected. We also see how, the story, given the social troubles and woes, could happen, just about anywhere. During their initial meeting V states that he, like God doesn’t “play with dice and doesn’t believe in coincidences.” The dialogue in the movie is a little stressed as it goes on further to use the word “coincidence”.  As the story of V’s life is finally coming together, the officer, Dominic even goes so far as to say that the “coincidences are making him sick”, at this point in the movie I was quite frankly sick of them too. However, visually the film makes up for it with a scene on the eve of V’s big night where, with the symbolic help of red and black dominioes in the shape of a “V”, we see the connection of each us and how together we can reach a goal.

 

            Another theme in the film is that change comes through violence. Whether you totally agree or disagree with this thought,  McTeigue emphasis is clearly shown through the film. He does acknowledge that there maybe some people who disagree, so he tries to gain sympathy on V’s behalf, by telling us that V’s motives are partialy in rememberance of Vallerie. By using an innocent woman who wanted nothing more but want to be with her lover, as a motivation, it is clearly a ploy to gain sympathy. However, McTeigue is unappoligeitc about the violent ends V goes to, to reach change. He even opts to justify them with a voice over from Malcom X during the ending credits that talks about using violence in self-defense.  That’s what V’s character lived for; defending himself against a harsh and oppressor government.

 

            The theme of governmental manipulation was also played out well in the film. McTeigue chose to show us, the possible negative events they may come into play in America,  if we don’t do something about the government. Censorship, invasion of privacy, and fear tactics were heavily emphasised in the film. We saw how Detrich’s show had to have an  approved script or it wouldn’t air, and also that there were phone taps and investigators listening in on people’s conversations. Deranged with power Chancellor Adam Sutler  want s  “everyone to remember why they need” the governemnt. He did everything in his power to make absolutely sure of this and in the process created complete and utter chaos. By pumping fear into the land with man-made virsuses, curfews, surveillance to “protect” national security, and terror all over the news media, he slowly created a weakend and fearful yet, obedient nation. It was also a nation with people ‘s rights clearly being violated. By manipulating the people into fear and obedince he had complete control of the land. The film showed us the theme that the government can abuse it’s power and destroy a country and everything it once stood for.

 

 

One element of the film that was poorly done and clearly just for Hollywood, was the “love” Evey had for V. It wasn’t unnecessary to help bring the story along nor do I feel that it made the story any better. In fact, I feel that it slowed the movie down and caused confusion as to Evey’s true motives for her final actions in the film. I’d like to think that her “love” for him played a minimal part in her decision and that she chose to do what she did because of her own convicitons. The two seemed a bit off beat on screen when Evey’s feelings of “love” came into play. She seemed indecisive as to how she really felt. Her indesiciveness made her acting during these scences terrible and the whole idea of love between them unbelivable. It was clearly a request from Hollywood and didn’t fit in with the tone of the film.

 

            The sound for the film was rather dull, aside from the appropriate ending song. “Street Fighting Man,” from the Rolling Stones couldn’t have been a better choice to embody V’s character because that is exactly what V was.

 

            The cinematography in the film was well done. The editing technique that simulatnetously showed V and Evey’s characters after they experienced their change, showed us that they had a lot in common and that Evey was just starting her journey as a future defender of justice. In on of the most action packed scences of the film, we visually marvel at how well V’s sword training pays off. McTeigue’s choice of using actual footage of past riots and protests further showed us the possiblity that current day America could become the future England in his film.

 

The parellels of events in V for Vendetta definitely raise several questions and I feel that was McTeigue’s ulitmate goal. From the wide spread hysteria due to war, terror, and disease, to the conversion of a peaceful country into a totalitarian regime, the film makes us wonder if America could be next. V for Vendetta asks you what are you going to do as a citizen? V’s quote, “People should not fear their government. The government should fear its people,” sums up the movie in a nutshell.  Throughout the film V was on a quest to put fear back into the government for what they did to him and England as a whole. I would highly recommend this film for those who take an interest in social and political issues, but even more so for the average Joe. V for Vendetta will definitely stir some people emotions, and that is ultimately the goal of the film.

 

Brittney Werts

August 7, 2008 at 4:14 pm Leave a comment

V for Vendetta: Victory of Muslims in U.K

After the   biggest terrorist attack in the United States in 2001, across the world there have been enormous motion pictures published that includes political views. James McTeigue’s V for Vendetta is one of the films  It is not like other political films that I had seen before, because the film had been shot in the United Kingdom and has a very different taste.

           

In this movie we have a model hero Hugo Weaving who is playing “V” and Natalie Portman who is playing Evey. The movie is taking place in the early future in United Kingdom. Vendetta is a very mad to the political system in England. He wants some change in the system and he will do whatever it takes. He meets with the Natalie Portman who is a very cute televisionist and pulls her with him. Vendetta’s first goal is try to reach British citizens and show them how and why government lied to them about important issues in England.  In this point an inspector Stephan Rea is authorized to find out who is Vendetta by president.

 

              In the beginning of the movie I was very curious why James McTeigue who was also the first assistant of “The Matrix Reloaded” and The Matrix Revolutions” filmed this movie in the United Kingdom instead of United States.  Even though, United Kingdom and United States have same political view United Kingdom a lot more sensitive about Homeland security and terrorist attack. For Instance, while more than 30 million illegal people working in the United States in the United Kingdom it is almost impossible. And secondly; If you don’t have  a valid  U.K visa you can not even use the England‘s airport for transit service. For other European countries you are not required to have a transit visa but for England. To obtain a visa from U.K is more difficult than to obtain from other EU counties either. Therefore, The United Kingdom does not welcome immigrants or any kind of people which England might get hurt. I believe James tried to point out that United Kingdom is getting discriminator about immigrants. According to him, a Muslim might be a possible terrorist who can be cause of another terrorist attack in England.              In 9th of September in 2001 a group of Muslim people killed thousands of human in the

World Trade Center. There are more than eight hundred million Muslims in this World and If we compare the Muslims who are called terrorists and killed innocent civilians are inconsiderable percent of Muslim society. So, Muslim terrorists are very small group in this Muslim society but all terrorist attacks have been linked to all Muslims. Aldof Hitler and Radovan Karadzic killed thousands of innocent people because of their religion. Nobody linked these genocides to Christianity. James strongly highlights that one day in England it will be hard to define your self as a Muslim.  Muslims will not be in the society and will be pointed as malicious people. In one of the scenes Vendetta illustrates to watcher how it is hard to have a Qua ran in the house after the televisionist is killed because of the holy book.               But, this motion picture fails if we consider about a love story. Natalie doesn’t fall in love with f Vendetta but she demands to know what the behind of the mask looks like. At the end of the movie conversations between V and Evey could be more excited. I don’t think anybody who watched the film liked the scene that Evey said “I love you and I want to be with you” This was the poorest scene and couldn’t deliver a true love story.  Evey’s performance is on the top and I think we will see her again with another film.

              As a result, V for Vendetta is a decent film that everyone will enjoy with it. However, it is not like other movies that you don’t forget for several months or several years. There are some decent scenes in this movie and excellent visual effects. It will take you to

United Kingdom and show how they will discriminate Muslims one day. Vendetta summarizes how it is hard to live in a Christian country as a Muslim after the terror attack in 9.11. In After watching the movie you are absolutely will compare the political views of the United States and United Kingdom. (3.5 stars out of 5)

Ozzy  G-

 

August 7, 2008 at 4:11 pm Leave a comment

V for Vendetta or V for Victory

       

Based on David Lloyd’s graphic novel of the same name, V for Vendetta is a movie that most people would want to see.  Set some time in the future in totalitarian England and its focal point is a self-determined man known as V (Weaving) who plans to bring down the Parliament.  Directed by James McTeigue an unforgettable narrative full of mystery, and action that will leave the viewer staggered with special effects. 

In the film, the main character named V plots to destroy the English Parliament Building, minutes into the movie V says, “Remember, remember the 5th of November, the gun powder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gun powder treason should ever be forgot.”  A local woman who works at a television station, Evey played by Natalie Portman gets wedged in the revolution with V.  The relationship that Evey develops with V represents one half of the plot of the movie; they have a bitter-sweet love story. 

This film has two plots which is liberty and revenge but centered on love.  Years ago, V was part of a human test for biochemical warfare testing.  The facility had been bombed on November 5th, date is no coincidence.  V escapes alive but scared for life and with avenges. V constantly uses the anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ attempted revolution for his revenge. V carefully kills everyone involved in Larkhill, the facility where he and others were experimented on the year after he bombed the Old Bailey.

Mentioned previously the film contains two plots that make for a good action packed thriller, and warm love scenes. Merging the two together could not have been easy for the writer. It also makes vital political statements which add to the intensity of the film.  The movie was released in 2006, which I think was the director’s subtle way of highlighting the War on Iraq, which is still going on today.

The love scenes are somewhat out of place.  V tortures Evey and gives her physical and mental strength; this is what makes there relationship stronger—very strange and unrealistic. Tortured by V unwittingly Evey discovers that V does have what it takes to carry out this revolution.  It teaches us an important life lesson that we all need other people at time to help us our most difficult problems.

The movie distorts social reality because as the viewer you know that this love story would never take place in the society we live in.  V can almost be considered a stalker in some sense.  Evey in the beginning of the film was a very timid woman who then later turns into this “hardcore” female because of V.  I thought that was interesting the way they transitioned her character into something else.  As far as the political aspect, would we as Americans go against our government? I find that hard to believe that we could take a stand as the people in the movie did against England.

V as both the hero and the villain in this movie; he explains the brilliance behind his plans.  He also explains his hidden agendas, not once in this movie do you see give up his fights for this cause that is so dear to his heart.  The fact that he is filled with revenge is what keeps him going but is also what kills him.

V for Vendetta was engaging but unrealistic. The intention of this movie is to arouse the mind of the viewer.  Although there were a couple scenes that were too long, and complexed maybe that would have taken away from the film without them.  It showed that every action has a reaction.  If you turn your head for one moment you could miss a large portion of the movie.  It is worth is merit the two hours and twelve minutes, just to view the revolution and the point the V tries to make that “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”  I definitely recommend this movie.

 

Martine E. Antoine

 

 

 

August 7, 2008 at 4:00 pm Leave a comment

V for Vexing

            V for Vexing

 

            While 2006’s V for Vendetta may sound promising- A politically critical thriller with a talented cast set in the not too distant future- it ends up having set the bar a bit too high for itself. Instead of being a provocative, exciting think movie, it ends up being a jumble of themes and ideas the filmmakers just couldn’t sort out.

 

Based on the graphic novel by English writer Alan Moore, the film takes place in 2038 London, where a George Orwell-esque society is under the rule of Dictator Adam Sutler (John Hurt, Hellboy.) Suddenly, out of the shadows comes a masked Hugo Weaving (Lord of the Rings), saving the character of Evey (Natalie Portman, Closer) but ultimately not being able to salvage the film.

 

We soon learn that Weaving’s ‘V’, who wears a mask meant to symbolize 1600s revolutionary Guy Fawkes, is bent on revenge on the movie’s government and a new future for London. Evey soon finds herself embroiled in his plan. While the politically-interested might be intrigued by the similarities in the film to today’s government ( the film’s version of London bears a color-coded curfew system that seems to mirror the United States’ own color-coded threat level system) they will be forced to squirm through the seemingly inappropriate pseudo-romance between the Portman and Weaving characters.

 

While the political aspect of the film may be interesting, an intelligent piece is morphed in to a loud propaganda-like mess. Speeches are made and images are shown targeting terrorists, real and accused, as well as the United States, who is made out to be a villain in the movie, as the viewer finds out America’s war spreading overseas was the reason for the state of England in the film’s universe. The solemn, harsh environment that is meant to be depicted is made gratuitous by scenes of a young girl being shot, unholy priests and hate crimes. The viewer is no longer sympathetic for the people of the movie’s version of London, but uncomfortable.

 


           Portman, baffled as to what kind of movie she finds herself in.

 

Also making the audience uncomfortable is the thriller movie’s uneven punctuation by saccharine ‘love’ scenes, which, regardless of their significance in the graphic novel, seem to have been emphasized by Hollywood to appeal to the female chick-flick viewing dynamic. V and Evey share cheesy dances and embraces, and this only adds to the mystery of what kind of character Evey is meant to be portrayed as in the first place. Is she a strong female, brave as she helps set V’s plan in motion, or a weak and naïve one, as she is shown tortured, and apparently falling for a masked man. The hardened female with her head shaved that we see develop throughout the film becomes softened as she returns to vulnerable girl we are introduced to back in the start. This confusing characterization pendulum continues to swing back and forth for the remainder of the time.

 

            Another story is the one following the detectives being played by Stephen Rea (Breakfast on Pluto) and Rupert Graves (the Forsyte Saga.) While their attempt to unravel the mystery behind V is intriguing at times, it is also another parable to keep up with. Instead of having a gracefully intricate plot, V for Vendetta is tiresome to follow. The stories jump around and by the time the viewer has rejoined one of the many characters again, they may have forgotten exactly who they were watching and why. The payoff for the confusion and mystery after a puzzling array of crimes, coincidences and courtships comes frustratingly late in to the film.

 

            Music is another weak point. As the Old Bailey, London’s housing for Criminal Court is blown up by V early on in to the film, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture is blared over the city’s intercom system. But the musical choice seems hollow, as the fantastical elements of the film are outweighed by the ‘reality’ of it. In another head-scratch-inducing move, the soundtrack was made overly eclectic by its featuring of bass-y techno beats, the Rolling Stones, and indie (hipster) favorite songstress, Cat Power.

 

           What may be considered the strong points are the acceptable acting performances by the able cast. Weaving delivers some of V’s monologues with a curiously entrancing quality, while Stephen Fry (Wilde) plays a friend of Evey’s, likable enough to endear the viewer to the people living under Sutler’s harsh rule.

 

            Also redeeming is the climactic fight scene, stylized to their liking by the Wachowski brothers- the minds behind the Matrix trilogy. While many of today’s movies feature shoot-outs, this scene contains actual fighting on the part of V. And while some of the casualties here are almost humorously grotesque, it is one of the most entertaining and visually stimulating episodes.

 

            Early on, V prompts us to “remember the idea, not the man.” But since the idea of revolution, which V preaches, is no new idea, perhaps the filmmakers should have passed, and let award-winning author Moore (who was ultimately disgusted with the film to the extent that his name appears nowhere in the credits) have his book left alone.

-Amy Eiferman

August 7, 2008 at 3:57 pm Leave a comment

V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta is a film based off of a comic book by Alan Moore that is a rich display of political imagery on top of stunning effects.  V for Vendetta finds England under the ruler of a totalitarian government that supposedly represents our government.  James McTeigue is a first-time director for this film, but has worked his magic on the Matrix films, as well as Star Wars episode 2 and we can see the results in the explosions and fights scenes for V for Vendetta.  Although you never see his face Hugo Weaving gives a great performance as well as Natalie Portman making quite a showing for her as well.  V for Vendetta leaves audiences with a strong message and a story that will have them coming back to the movie time and again.

Although many of the action scenes are over the top and filled with explosions and violence, many of the loves scenes in the movie seem to be very artificial like they were placed in there just to keep us moving from dramatic scene to action scene.  These love scenes between Eve and V are artificial are artificial at best due to the both of the characters distraught backgrounds and necessity for each other.  I see V’s need for a replacement incase he meets his own end as well a need for interaction due to at least 20 years of being alone.  Eve on the other hand has a need for any parental roles such in case a father figure or someone who would give strength to her so she could stand up for herself.

The film is a very controversial one dealing with hot button issues that we face today.  The issue of giving up rights for the safety of a country is what many feel has happened today in America with the Patriot Act.  Another is the take over of the country by the conservative party in England which happened in the United States with the Republican Party and presidents such as Ronald Regan and George W Bush.  A problem that seems to face V for Vendetta is that the movie draws it source material from a comic written by Alan Moore at least 20 years ago.  I see the director and the writers trying to make the story relevant to today by trying to use England as America without going as far as saying “this is the United States”.  It seems when you try to fit something established like the comic and put it into a movie setting the story itself becomes molded to fit some aspects of Hollywood such as a love story and political idealism.  This seems to be the reason why Alan Moore has taken his name off most of the films that have been based off of his comics. 

The St Mary’s incident represents that kind of controversy, it was an act perpetrated by the government to put a political party into office.  The main idea was to create a virus that would kill many human lives and allow the government to come and save the day so they could be elected into office in November.  Since the blame of the attack is on terrorism its showing that it may reference atrocities that have happened in the Untied States such as 9/11.  Although no clear link is made in the film to it many of the events afterward creating a culture of fear many believe has happened in the United States of America under the Bush administration.  They also make show how the pharmaceutical company is hand and hand in the government and how much of a killing they made of selling the antis dote to the virus.  This is another clear example of showing how the government is hand in hand with big business.

One thing is for certain is that V for Vendetta separates itself from most comic book movies by delivering its hart hitting story as well as revolutionary ideals played out by deep characters.  Hugo Weaving who played Agent Smith in the Matrix films plays V a man who wares a Guy Fawkes mask and who uses violence to stir the masses and return freedoms to the people at any cost.  Although he is hidden by a mask we feel the emotions of a tortured soul that cries out for freedom.  Many scenes in the movie show his expertise in martial arts as well as his veracious verbose vocabulary.  V seems to represent anarchy in a political system that has oppressed its people.  He goes as far as saying “people should not be afraid of their government, their government should be afraid of the people”.  He has seen first hand the freedoms that have been destroyed by the government as well as the atrocities they have committed and believes that it must be held accountable.  We are never truly sure who V is at the end of the film which was a good choice that is unlike other movies of the genre. 

The character of Eve is played by Natalie Portman a young girl living in an oppressive world that seems to have been beaten in the opening scenes of the movie.  Eve has a childhood filled with tragedy due to the death of her brother in the St Mary’s epidemic as well as the death of her radical parents by the government for standing up.  She is very scared since this happened and hopes for the day when she can be as strong as her parents and stand up. Soon she is introduced to V she becomes enthralled in his radical ideals and works with him even though most of his plans become too violent for her to go through. One scene in the movie shows Eve being put through the torture that V faced earlier in life; although she hated V for it she seems freed by the rain in the end and is no longer afraid of the future.  The character of Eve never needs to know the identity of V because he stands for so much more than a man in a mask but ideals that she has coveted for many years.

Without a villain V for Vendetta would not succeed as well as it did and with High Chancellor Adam Sutler played by John Hurt we are given that villain. He is the antithesis to V and older man who hides from the public underground although his face is broadcast everywhere.  He uses fear mongering that keeps any kind of opposition to his regime underground and weak.   He institutes his values and judgments on everyone leading to arrests known as black bagging where people are dragged away never to return again.  The fear mongering of Adam Sutler’s administration is a clear stab at the Bush administration and the measures they will use to keep us safe from terrorism at any cost. Sutler believes that if the terrorist known as V is destroyed he can keep any type of change from occurring in the country.  What Sutler doesn’t realize is that what V believes in can never be destroyed “Ideas are bullet proof and can not be destroyed”.  Sutler and his administration fall to V and their infighting among themselves mainly due to Mr Creedy’s greed.

V for Vendetta succeeds as a movie that serves as model for a future that may or may not be true.  The movie ends at a point where we are guessing what happens next or if the natural order will be restored.  At points V for Vendetta can be a little drawn out but distances itself from other comic book movies by having a solid story that serves as a political piece against totalitarianism.  As we leave the film we can hear quotes by Malcolm X preaching about being able to fight back against those who attack against us.  Another quote by Gloria Steinem tells of a world order that is not based on race or sex.  These two quotes echo what happens in the film and help the viewer come out of the film with a better understanding of what the director was trying to get across.

-Matt Fischofer

August 7, 2008 at 3:33 pm Leave a comment

V for Vendetta: An Intellectually Intriguiing Work of Cinematic Art

V for Vendetta: An intellectually intriguing work of cinematic art.

                                                A review by Mary Kate Leibman

 

Thrilling and daring, V for Vendetta is more than just a movie based on a comic; it is the catalyst for intense political debate.  The film will keep you on the edge of your seat, and not because of fancy CGI and stunts.  Produced by the Wachowski brothers (responsible for the Matrix trilogy) the film outdoes the success of the Matrix by far.  It is brilliant in the way it entwines two separate stories into one intense plot.  It is a film which takes us into the realms of a completely new world: one in which our freedoms have been stripped, and America is no more.

 

Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and directed by James McTeigue, the story revolves around Evey (played by the multi-talented Natalie Portman), a slave who works at the government-run TV station.  She is introduced to us as a quiet, shy, obedient citizen of the current British Totalitarian government set in the near future.  After being out after the government appointed curfew, Evey is approached by the government police who attempt to rape and attack her.  It is here that we are introduced to V, the masked avenger who sets out to kill off the key members of the totalitarian British state.  He rescues Evey from her attackers, and takes her to the rooftop where he blows up the Old Bailey.

 

V explains that the destruction of the Bailey must happen in order to remember the 5th of November.  The 5th of November, 1605 is when revolutionary Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Parliament.  V states that on the next year of this date, he will assure Parliament’s destruction.  Here starts the revolution, as the impressionable Evey bites into V’s plan hook, line, and sinker. 

 

Throughout the movie, the filmmakers make an artistic attempt to tie in symbolic undertones to parallel today’s government with the totalitarian regime in Britain.  For the politically savvy, the allusions to today’s fear-based politics in the Bush administration are hard to ignore. 

 

High Chancellor Suttler, played with chilling detail by John Hurt, is what many consider to be today’s Bush.  He stands in front of a screen telling his cronies that the people need to believe that they are endangered.  Somehow, one can’t deny this is exactly how Bush was re-elected, playing the terrorist card.

 

What is more is that terrorism plays a key role in this film.  And no, they are not from the mid-east either.  Anarchy was the key theme in the graphic novel, which the film was based on.  V is the anarchist in this movie. He is labeled a terrorist in the movie. And a massive manhunt ensues to try and find him and bring him to government style justice.

 

V was the unfortunate victim of a fire in a government testing facility.  He underwent cruel experiments and was exposed to viruses that would eventually wipe out a 3rd of Britain.

 

It is no wonder that the viewer is supposed to sympathize with the terrorist.  It is the real genius in this movie the way we as viewers sympathize with the terrorist.  Ultimately, regardless of political ideals, the filmmakers have us questioning government.

 

With strong symbolic ties to the current administration, the makers of this movie have us realizing that the government is just as lethal as the terrorists who challenge it.  Though exaggerated in this movie, the producers want us to believe the government is the real threat.

 

Treating V like a hero and giving him a cause glorifies his stance as a revolutionary.  Much like the play Wicked, it toys with our notion of what is good and evil.  More so, it has us questioning why people do evil things (or what is considered to be evil). 

 

After the connections have been established through symbolism, we start to see clever ploys that attempt to inject more criticism of government.  The filmmakers allude that the American military are terrorists, and government profits off of other’s misfortunes.

 

Brilliantly disguised in a heroic tale of revenge, V for Vendetta really comes across as a tool of propaganda for certain leftist beliefs (of which some are true).

 

On the other hand, the movie focuses on the manipulation of Evey, and how convincing V can be.  He manipulates her into his cause by having her face her fears.  Facing her past, Evey is able to rationalize V’s killing spree of government officials.

 

The cinematography also plays with the emotions more than your average film.  As it is supposed to be; a movie is supposed to externalize the internal.  Using brilliant color schemes to reflect certain feelings, the film will make you feel as cold as the blue tone of night, and as warm as the yellow of the day.  Frequently, the lighting will change drastically, so much so, that you feel the change of emotion in the pit of your stomach.  At certain points, the film takes on a “noir” feel to it, using shadows to create edgy effects of suspense right out of a 40s horror flick. All in all the film combines artistic cinematography to illuminate the emotions of the viewer.

 

Though a genius political thriller, the film never strays from its action packed roots.  Sorry Matrix fans, no dodging bullets here just plain old Zorro style sword fights.  With V’s charming side to him, it seems as if you are watching something out of The Count of Monte Crisco (V’s favorite movie).

 

Almost perfect, the movie does have some definite weaknesses.  In fact, the film is very confusing.  The filmmakers try to reach too many different audiences with stories, sub-stories, and a smattering of symbolism.  On one hand we have the intricate relationship between V and Evey.  Love story, not exactly, but Hollywood would want you to think so.  We have the tackling of major current events to reach the politically intellectual viewers.  With the amount of symbolism they use, it becomes tiring trying to piece it all together.  In the end one tires because their brain feels like it has exhausted it’s self into a state of paralysis; where the only thing that will make you function again is a trip to the bathroom (a well needed diversion from a drawn out film).

 

Overall, this movie was a creative way to insert political viewpoints as an undertone to a dystopia that some think is possible.  Though extremely exaggerated, the film tells us what can happen to our future if we are not careful now.  The message this film sends makes it the most politically charged movie of the past decade.  So, if you are in for another comic book film filled with explosions and drawn out fights, this is not your movie.  If you are in for a rewarding, intellectually intriguing work of art, then enjoy what is arguably one of the best films I have seen in a while.

August 7, 2008 at 3:32 pm Leave a comment

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