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.