V for Vendetta

 

       Led by director James McTeigue, V for Vendetta is overflowing with action and  adventure, made to keep you on your toes. The 2006 flick is somewhat complex, but its political and romantic storylines are interesting and entertaining. Together Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving will stop at nothing until the people of London, understand the deceitfulness, lies, and hardship the English parliament has caused them.

“Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot”

    The movie starts of with this quote, and practically throughout the entire film, we can see re-enactment on what happened on the 5th of November, when a man named Guy Fawkes brought the gunpowder into the tunnels, in an attempt to blow it up he was caught, and executed. This takes place at the very beginning of the movie.

     I saw this film twice: once in class and a second time at home. I’ve got to admit that I got much more out of this film seeing it a second time. At first, the film seemed long, boring, and way to complicated.

    V for Vendetta is set in London that has been taken over by a fascist mean and manipulative dictatorship. This government survives on the fears of its citizens to keep them in order. The story follows a young woman named Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) who meets the so called terrorist V (Hugo Weaving) in an alley,  as he plans to bring down the fascist government with madness ,sabotage and the assinations of important vital members of parliament.  He believes this will in fact “change” government.

    The movie begins as Evey, (Natalie Portman) is rescued by V from a group of men in a dark alley, just as they were about to rape her. V, then takes Evey away to see his “show” on the rooftops,  little does she know, she is about to witness the demolition of The Old Bailey, London’s town symbol. V is sure that blowing up buildings can fix parliaments problems. V makes a promise that, after the destruction of The Old Bailey building, that on the next November the 5th, he will continue in the footsteps of Guy Fawkes and blow up Parliament.

   The government in V for Vendetta can be compared to Nazi Germany, with its flag symbols and many evil dictators. To me, V for Vendetta is a film based on “the right” What does a government really do if they are  never questioned; if citizens just accept everything they tell us or do. Although this movie is obviously fake it makes us think about our own “problems” with society and the government that leads us.

“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”- V.

   On the other hand V for Vendetta is a just a movie that should have of made you think? As it made me think.  Which I believe was exact intent of the film, to make you think.  People need to decide for themselves: Is V a hero or terrorist? Is what he’s doing right or wrong?

    I believe Natalie Portman’s performance as Evey is very well played out. Basically, she starts out as an unsure young woman, somewhat frightened of life. Throughout the course of the film, she gains an inner strength and is shaped into a person very mush  like V. She becomes a strong, confident, and direct force focused on changing the world for the better, and no longer burdened by fear.

   Chancellor Sutler, the “leader” of the government on the other hand is mean, manipulative, and runs a corrupt government. He only appears on the television during the movie. Sutler, whom I believe is more like the modern day Hitler, believes in a total dictatorship. Sutler, who was the leader in the so called nuclear “war” years ago , was held responsible for ruining and killing the lives of innocent immigrants, muslims, and homosexuals,  sending them to concentration camps. These crimes against humanity were unknown to the citizens of London.

    However, it is V who stands out, although his face is very well hidden by a Guy Fawkes mask the entire movie .He is a very intellectual man whose signature musical interests throughout the film include Beethoven’s 5th symphony. I found myself rooting for the guy and his cause, although he is a “terrorist.” It makes someone reconsider exactly what a terrorist is?

    The movie also emphasizes some romantic aspects as well. One between Valerie and Ruth, two lesbian’s lovers torn away by the government and eventually killed. And the other with  Evey and V. In my opinion their relationship is not one of sexual feelings, but more of a kinship between two individuals who feel, love and act very similar. Evey grows to love V, because he makes her see who she really is. Fearless. She admitted to V that her fear has taken over her and when he takes it away, well that opens a new window in her life.

    While the middle and the end of the movie are somewhat slow, it has its times where it picks up and gets good, but not too much. The last part of the film comes through with the visuals and action sequences that are actually, in my opinion really good. Audiences should definitely be prepared to be entertained, but also do a little bit of thinking too.

     I also like the interesting use of music. The music used over the scene of the Old Bailey courthouse being destroyed, is great and adds the entire effect to the moment . As a huge fan of the stones I especially loved the song being played in the ending credits “Street Fighting Man” which is a very political song about anti-war. Also, the music that comes out of V’s jukebox is wonderful stuff. I really love the tune that they eventually dance to “Cry Me a River”, because all this point it shows the kind of love V has for Evey, and how he is longing to share a dance with someone.

     In the end, V succeeds in his attempts to blow up Parliament, but not without cost. Evey is forced to lay V’s lifeless body into the stack of explosives inside a train that is to be sent under Parliament. This train is then wired to explode under Parliament, and therefore, ignite the revolution V dreamed about.

–Raquel Ortega

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

August 7, 2008 at 2:45 pm Leave a comment

George Orwell Biopic

John Giangrasso                                                                                        Intro to Journalism

8/1/08                                                                                                                     Prof. King

 

            Eric Arthur Blair (Born June, 25th 1903 – January 21st 1950) was an English journalist, political essayist and novelist who wrote under the pseudonym George Orwell.  He is most famous for two novels critical of totalitarianism, Nineteen Eighty – Four and Animal Farm (a satire of Stalinism).

            Eric Arthur Blair was born in Motihari, Bengal Presidency, British India.  His mother Ida Mabel Blair took her from a three-month visit to England his father Richard Blair did not enter his son’s life until he was nine years old.  Blair described his family as “lower-upper-middle-class.”  His work at St. Cyprian’s School in Eastbourne, Sussex earned him scholarships to Wellington and Eton.  After a term at Wellington College, Blair transferred to Eton College where he was relatively happy because the school allowed students much independence.

            Blair joined the Indian Imperial Police in October 1922 because his parents could not afford to send him to Oxbridge without another scholarship.  He moved to Moulmein where his grandmother lived in April 1926 and at the end of that year went on to Katha where he contracted Dengue Fever in 1927.  In view of his illness he was allowed to go home in July and he reappraised his life and resigned from the Indian Imperial Police with the intention of becoming a writer.

            He moved to London and started his exploratory expeditions to the poorer parts of London and recorded his experiences of the low life for use in “The Spike”, his first published essay, and the latter half of his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933). 

            In spring of 1928, he moved to Paris, where the comparatively low cost of living and bohemian lifestyle offered an attraction for many aspiring writers.  He worked on novels but was more successful as a journalist.  He published articles in Monde, G. R.’s Weekly and Le Progres Civique.  In August 1929 he sent a copy of “The Spike” to The Adelphi magazine in London and it was accepted for publication.  In December, after a year and three quotes in Paris, he returned to England.

            Orwell did his leg and home-work as a social reporter: he gained entry to many houses in Waigon to see how people lived; took systematic notes of housing conditions and wages earned; and spent days in the local public library consulting public health records and reports on mine working conditions.  The Road to Wigan Pier’s second half was a long essay of his upbringing, and the development of his political conscience, including a denunciation of the Left’s irresponsible elements. 

            In December 1936, Orwell went to Spain as a fighter for the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War that was provoked by Francisco Franco’s Fascist uprising.  In conversation with Philip Mairet, editor of New English Weekly, Orwell said: “This Fascism…somebody’s got to stop it.  Fortuitously, Orwell joined the POUM (Partido Obrero de Unification Marxista), a revolutionary communist party, rather than the Communist International Brigades, but his experiences much increased his sympathies for the POUM, making him a life-long anti-Stalinist and firm believer in what he termed Democratic Socialism, socialism with free debate and elections. 

            I asked one of my classmates Matthew Fischofer if he thought Orwell’s criticism of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin damaged the socialist cause but he said, “No, because Stalin wasn’t true socialism.  He was a dictator with one ruling class that stood above everybody else.  Still there is a negative connotation of Socialism in this country, such as the Obama bashing for his support of socialized medicine.” 

            After the Spanish Ordeal, Orwell’s formation ended; his finest writing, best essays, and great fame lay ahead.  In 1941, Orwell worked for BBC’s Eastern Service, supervising Indian broadcasts meant to stimulate India’s war participation against the approaching.  Japanese army.  Despite the good salary, he resigned from the BBC in September 1943, and in November became literary editor of the left wing weekly magazine Tribune. 

            I asked Mr. Fischofer, during his employment at the BBC, Orwell became familiar with the methods of Nazi propaganda.  Do you think if he were around to watch TV today would he feel anything has changed significantly?  Fischofer said, “I think we still use the propaganda used by the Nazis.  Bringing the fear out of people is a good motivator.  Propaganda has snowballed.  People are to busy living their own little lives and when they hear it they take it too emotionally.”  

            In 1944, Orwell finished the anti-Stalinist allegory Animal Farm to critical and popular success.  With Animal Farm at the printers, with wars end in view, Orwell’s desire to be in the thick of the action quickened.  David Astor asked him to be the Observer was correspondent reporting the liberation of France and the earl occupation of Germany.  He had a baby later that year and also lost wife in the spring of 1945 during an operation to remove a tumor. 

            For the next for years he mixed journalistic work – mainly for the Tribune, The Observer and The Manchester Evening News, though he also contributed to many small-circulation political and literary magazines – with writing his best-known work, Nineteen Eighty-Four, which was published in 1949.  The book was originally supposed to be named 1980 but due to the illness it was changed to 1982 then 1984.           

            I asked Fischofer in 1984 Oceania is in perpetual war.  The enemy regularly changes but the state is always at war.  Do you think what Orwell is trying to say is that mankind will always find a reason to go to war?  Is peace a possibility?  He said, “There’s always going to be a power struggle, it depends if blood is going to be shed.  People strive for peace but they don’t get it.  Everyone really just wants for their own good.”  We were in agreement on the latter point. 

            Orwell died in London of tuberculosis at the age of 46.  When Orwell wrote “Down and Out in Paris and London” a semi-autobiographical account of his experiences in both cities this was a prime example of how journalism shaped his literary work.  Orwell said of the experience, “At present I do not feel that I have seen more than the fringe of poverty. Still I can point to one or two things I have definitely learned by being hard up. I shall never again think that all tramps are drunken scoundrels, nor expect a beggar to be grateful when I give him a penny, nor be surprised if men out of work lack energy, nor subscribe to the Salvation Army, nor pawn my clothes, nor refuse a handbill, nor enjoy a meal at a smart restaurant. That is a beginning.”  Orwell, in my opinion, most likely turned to journalism from literature because he found it easier to get work and found the work he was doing important.  John McNair (1887-1868), quotes him: “He said that this [writing a book] was quite secondary, and his main reason for coming was to fight against Fascism.” 

            Orwell, in my opinion, was a journalist at heart before he was an essayist or a novelist.  He did an extensive amount of work that was primarily journalist material and his two most famous books were so political they could be considered works of journalism too.  Animal Farm was an allegory in which animals play roles of the Bolshevik revolutionaries and Nineteen Eighty-Four a novel about life under a futuristic authoritarian regime in the year 1984.  Both describe how a society’s ideologies can be manipulated and twisted by those in positions of social and political power, including how a utopian society is made impossible by the corrupting nature of the very power necessary to create it. 

            I thought Nineteen Eighty-Four with its concept of the Big Brother is the most realistic example of how Orwell’s work is important today.  I asked Fischofer if he thought the concept of Big Brother in which people are always being watched and under constant surveillance all the time is a valid prediction from Orwell?  Does the Patriot Act prove this theory?  He said, “Absolutely, when people are afraid of something they will look to anything for security.  The more freedom you have, the less security you have.  Free will gives them a choice of failure.  They always wanted a Patriot Act in Congress but I haven’t heard of anyone being tried for it.” 

August 7, 2008 at 2:31 pm Leave a comment

“Ideas are Bullet Proof”

In the 2006 suspense fantasy, V for Vendetta, Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman are allies in a revolution against a corrupt government.

V for Vendetta , originally written by Allen Moore and David Lloyd takes place sometime after 2020. It is post a major war between England and the United States. The release of this movie in 2006 takes a stab at America. President Bush said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and years later America is still wondering where they are. Still we recruit soldiers to go over to Iraq and risk there lives every minute, every hour and every day. Britain used a similar tactic creating a virus and distributing it to three major water supplies killing thousands of its citizens. There is commentary on the war on terror.

He is known to the people in charge as code V. V is framed as a terrorist who continues to throw oppositions towards the government. He goes against everything the government and its party stands for because they are corrupt and deceitful. To the people he is known not as a hero, but as a force of justice they have been waiting for. V stands by the people and believes that, “people should not fear the government, the government should fear the people.” It is extremely easy to see injustices and not do anything, but V does not leave that option open.

The British run their country as a totalitarian society as indicated by the curfew, control of the media, and the image of the high chancellor Adam Sutler. The chancellor’s image is always very large and overwhelming to the human eye, and this is where the fear of those in power takes place. The government uses fear as a tactic because they believe it leads to an obedient society.

There is a parallel between the Count of Monte Cristo and V for Vendetta in revenge being the key emotion. Revenge becomes an obsession in both pieces. In the Count of Monte Cristo, Dantes acquires power and wealth; he disguises himself as he seeks out all who helped imprison him. In V for Vendetta, V seeks out those who led to his creation at the Lock hill camp. That is when V finds out that force requires opposite force and without it there would be no way to take those in power down. “Violence can be used for good. “Revenge is best served cold” (Christiana).

The overall film is white and black except for flowers and fire. The film gives power to both beautiful and dark things. The role of music is both powerful and used constructively. Although banned because it is said to cause emotion, music rings throughout the speakers when V is up to his antics for new world order. The actions are echoed by the music’s huge crescendo were followed by the bombing of Parliament and the Lady Justice. Music is also used at the end of the movie when the songs “street fighting man” by the Rollins Stones and Malcolm X’s in the end- “Violence in self defense” are played.

Two themes that play out in the film are: the power of love to change people in the world and the power of ideas to change the world. V is the male lead who is known as the terrorist in the film who wants fairness, justice, and freedom for Britain. When did that become a bad thing? V’s house consisted of preserved arts and artifacts from around the world. Evey who plays the female lead works for a television company named BTN whose slogan is, “this is BTN, we merely report, not fabricate it, that’s the government’s job” referring to the news. The media’s role in the British society is huge because those in power use the media as an instrument for controlling ideas instead of expressing free ideas. Evey is completely aware of the injustices that play throughout the media. She explains how she can tell when a broadcaster is lying with the action of rapid eye blinking. Her parent’s became revolutionaries when their son dies at Saint Mary’s for undisclosed reasons. They were later killed because they were seen as a threat to the “progressing” Britain. The film doesn’t succeed as a romantic love story because V wanted Evey to be with him but could not let go of the revenge.  However, the movie does succeed as a story about the love of humanity because in the process of attaining revenge, V helps the British people open their eyes.

Another theme is the power of ideas to change the world.  V says, ”beneath this mask there’s an idea, ideas are bullet proof.” V knew of the corruptions of the high chancellor Adam Sutler, Mc Creedy and other members of the government. They were the cause of what he had become. They were the same people who were controlling the media, using slogans to brainwash the people, and implementing curfew. V ultimately takes action against the corruptions of their repressed society. V takes action by destroying the Lady Justice which symbolized justice on the 5th of November, a date with historical significance dating back four hundred years ago. A year later he destroys Parliament, a symbol of the government, which indicated that change is needed. Evey takes action by pushing the lever sending the explosives towards Parliament. The inspector, Mr. Finch takes action by uncovering the truth while searching for the faceless terrorist V, which then leads him to not shoot Evey. They choose to fight against the regime that placed fear in their hearts.

How dare the president of a country say that fear is the best tool to keep his country in order? The Chancellor strikes against anything or anyone to gain control. Chancellor Sutler discriminates against anything he does not like. He is one minded and runs his society like that way. There is no loyalty. In the situation of Mc Creedy, next in line to the “thrown,” he shoots the Chancellor with no remorse in a deal he makes with V to spare his own life. Yes, this can be considered a film about revenge but it’s learned throughout the film that violence can be used as a means of justice.

 

-belfort

             

             

 

August 7, 2008 at 2:25 pm Leave a comment

V For Victory

In the futuristic drama “V for Vendetta”, director James McTeigue brilliantly brings to life the crisply written screenplay of the very talented Wachowski Brothers.   Set in totalitarian England at some unspecified time in the future, the film focuses on one mysterious mans plan to bring down the government.

            The character of V, cleverly played by the Australian actor Hugo Weaving, is a counter hero because he is attempting to organize a revolution against an oppressive British government that is full of corruption and deceit.  Hiding behind a gothic like mask, V conceals his identity from all the other characters and from the audience.

            Despite the title and the seductive nature of V’s violent personality, the film is really at bottom, a love story in it own way.   These love interests is a woman named Evey, who abducted by V and held in captivity for about three years.  When she is first captured, Evey, played by Natalie Portman, is a gentle and reserved British citizen who is unaware of the atrocities committed by the corrupt British government.  By the time she has survived her captivity, Evey has come to realize that her appearance of being a respectful citizen is just a disguise that covers her evil nature.  They fall in love when her evil nature connects to his evil nature making them perfect for each other.

            Once V and Evey “commit” to each other, his plot to blow up parliament on November 5th, Guy Fawkes Day, can proceed.  Evey, along with thousands of others, have now joined V’s masked army of rebels.  Each of V’s “soldiers” is wearing a duplicate of the mask worn by V.  The plan is for V’s “army” to march toward Parliament.  In the meantime, an underground train filled with explosives is ready to be sent to a location directly under parliament.  The ending of the film, which will remain a secret, will surprise even the most experienced film viewer.

            V for Vendetta is filled with many symbolic references and traditional themes.  When the masked army marches in unison towards parliament, the film viewer cannot help but be reminded of the famous scene in Shakespeare’s Macbeth when ten thousand members of the English army and the Scottish rebels each cut down a branch of a tree and use it as a disguise to attack Macbeth’s castle.  In both Macbeth and V for Vendetta, rebels are trying to overthrow an oppressive government.  The Wachowski Brothers evidently evidently know their Shakespeare.

            The film also borrows thematically from another very famous futuristic story about an oppressive British Government.   George Orwell’s classic novel entitled 1984 is the story of Winston Smith who secretly tries to connect with a young woman who he thinks will join him in trying to go against “Big Brother”, which is the main branch of the totalitarian government.  Like “V for Vendetta”, Orwell’s novel about a world in which the majority of citizens have lost their rights is really a love story.  In both the novel and the film, one theme becomes clear: love cannot survive when individuals are not free to be who they are.

            Despite its political timeliness and despite its top-notch acting, the film fails in certain areas.  One problem lies in its complicated plot.  At times, the viewer struggles to follow all the ins and outs of the character’s motivations.  For example, V himself evidently has a personal grudge or “vendetta” towards the government.  What that personal grudge or vendetta is, is never made clear to the audience.  Also, the film is thematically dark because its backdrop is an oppressive government filled with corruption.  At times, this thematic darkness spills over into a visual darkness that clouds a scene and makes it hard for the viewer to distinguish characters and props. 

            The cinematography of the film was very effective.  For example, in one scene, V hurls his sword at the “bad government officials.”  Through an effective use of slow motion cinematography, the director captures the anger of V and his passion to execute those forces he feels have betrayed him and the rest of the world.  As that sword tumbles through air, the viewer has no doubt that it will find its mark a few times over. 

            The most interesting characters in the film are V himself and Evey.  V is a fascinating character because he never really changes his personality throughout the film.  He is intent from the very start on destroying the British government. V never really allows anything or any person to distract him from succeeding in his goal to overthrow parliament.  V easily seduces the audience because we feel sorry for him and then we feel empowered by him.  His one soft spot is his feelings for Evey.  Yet even his attachment to her is seen as less important than his passion to destroy the government.   To the audience, V is a very interesting character type because of his commitment to one goal.  Evey on the other hand undergoes a character change.  She moves from being an obedient citizen to a rebel.  Evey is a beautiful looking woman who falls in love with an obsessed man.  She never even sees who that person really is physically behind the mask.  However, Evey like the audience falls in love with V’s character and personality.  Like many of us, we would like to think that we see beneath the outward appearance of someone and appreciate more the inner person.

            All in all, “V for Vendetta” is a film definitely worth seeing.  If you are disgusted with the present political state of affairs, and you feel there may be hope for change, “V for Vendetta” is the film for you.   Although the extreme measures V goes through to overthrow the government are probably not the measures that a modern American audience would use to show their dissatisfaction with the government, the spirit of V’s rebellion is something that most Americans can identify with. 

            I would give this movie an overall rating of a 4. 

– Jared Albaum 

August 7, 2008 at 12:28 pm Leave a comment

V For Vendetta – Remember the idea, not the movie

by Adam Michaelson

In one of the opening scenes of V For Vendetta, Natalie Portman’s character Evey asks, “Are you like…a crazy person?” of Hugo Weaving’s V” Viewers need not worry, for the filmmakers certainly were a bit crazy themselves. V For Vendetta, while subjected to the Wachowski brother’s signature treatment, is definitely a film worth the two hours.

While the movie is set in the year 2038, the British government has been taken control of by a totalitarian named Adam Sutler, the leader of the Norsefire party. Later on in the movie, V explains, “Fear became the ultimate tool of this government.” It is through this fear along with numerous forms of propaganda, complete control of the media, use of curfews, violent operations, discrimination, executions, and constant surveillance and spying that the government retains its control over citizens.

When V For Vendetta begins, it is prefaced with Evey Hammond telling the story of Guy Fawkes. He was a revolutionary who had been caught in an attempt to bomb the Parliament building on November 5th in the 16th century. It is only minutes later when this date takes on even further meaning when the eccentric V bombs the Old Bailey while broadcasting Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture through the government’s own emergency loudspeakers.

The movie then goes on to document V executing a plot of both revenge and freedom from oppression. It is discovered that V had been a human test subject for biochemical warfare testing years prior to when the movie opens. This testing facility had been bombed and V had escaped with his life and his anger. Not surprisingly, the date of this bombing was November 5th. V consistently uses the anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ attempted revolution to exact his revenge. In the year after he bombed the Old Bailey, V makes careful work of killing everyone involved in the running of Larkhill, the facility where he and others were experimented on.

During all of this, he garners the attention of the public and delivers messages of truth and freedom. Slowly but surely, V gains the trust of the citizenry. The public opinion of him becomes far better than that of the ruling regime. This is exactly what V had planned.

The best aspect of the film has to be the idea of manipulation. Throughout the film, the filmmakers depicted manipulation as a tool of both good and evil. Even V acknowledges this notion when he quotes Evey’s father in saying, “Artists use lies to tell the truth.” He goes on to explain, “Yes, I created a lie. But because you believed it, you found something true about yourself.”

On the other hand, the government in this film uses tools of manipulation for its own agenda. While broadcasting a false news story to make the destruction of the Old Bailey seem like a planned government project, Sutler’s man Dascomb remarks, “This is the BTN. Our job is to report the news, not fabricate it. That’s the government’s job.” It becomes difficult to differentiate which entity is which. In one of the later scenes of the movie, V explains the situation to Chief Inspector Finch (Stephen Rea) by saying, “Fear became the ultimate tool of this government.”

This is, of course, the main message of the film. In a pirate broadcast to the British public, V reminds the public of the wrongdoings of the government and then offers up the blame by saying, “If you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.”

The influence of the government is also witnessed when Dominic, Finch’s assistant, says, “He’s a terrorist, you can’t expect him to act like you and me.” Finch is quick to correct him by saying, “Some part of him’s human.”

V’s use of alliteration is another success of this film. Phrases like “censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission” flow like rivers and are memorable, and therefore more powerful. This is a show of writing talent and Weaving’s delivery of these lines is impeccable.

One problem in the film is the lack of consistency; not in the plot but in the production. In the two scenes where V and Evey are on the rooftop of V’s hideout, there is an overwhelming hair light. This makes the scene feel awkward as it gives it a surreal feeling in a place that should be more real. Either the moon is much brighter in 2038 or someone forgot their light meter. The look would have been much more acceptable had the filmmakers continued it throughout the film, but alas no such look was achieved on any consistent basis.

Something else that is a bit distracting is the “futuristic-retro” look of the film. The special effects give the film a futuristic look, reminiscent of The Matrix at times. This comes as no surprise, but thankfully is not overbearing. In the flashback of a woman who had been in charge of Larkhill, the production causes the scene to have a 1950s wartime look. While it is understandable that the filmmakers want to note how far in the past this event was, it creates a rift in the timeline of the story.

The soundtrack of the film seemed to have been chosen by a catholic group. While the instrumental music selected for effect added momentum and suspense, V’s music taste is that of slow jazz accompanied by female vocals. He is seen listening to both Julie London’s old time “Cry Me A River” as well as modern day Cat Power’s version of Lou Reed’s “I Found A Reason.” The soundtrack also entertains such artists as Boots Randolph, Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society, and Antony and the Johnsons. The Rolling Stones begin the credits with their song “Street Fighting Man.” This variation in music is a bit odd and at times out of place.

The existence of a love story between Evey and V is questionable at best. While they do share one or two moments of intimacy, such as when they kiss just before V leaves to face certain death, there is doubt as to whether or not it is the typical Hollywood romance that viewers might be used to. This love shared seems to be more of a bond which is formed between people who share a common situation; it is created when people share the same plight.

While Hugo Weaving (Transformers, Lord Of The Rings) is becoming more recognized for his voice, he is able to employ an enticing accent. Even behind the Guy Fawkes mask, his voice remains sharp and articulate throughout the film. Weaving’s line delivery is both inspired and attention grabbing, which makes him a perfect fit for his role. Also fitting for their roles are Tim Pigott-Smith and John Hurt as Creedy and Adam Sutler, respectively. Pigott-Smith delivers a chilling performance as Sutler’s right hand man, “a man seemingly without a conscience,” as V tells Chief Inspector Finch. Hurt portrays a control obsessed Sutler without missing a beat. Like Weaving, Hurt’s voice is the most fitting part of his character.

The character of Evey Hammond is played excellently by an emotional Natalie Portman. While her character may be a bit confused as to her intentions, Portman does an impressive job of making the best out of an iffy part in the script. Stephen Rea’s Chief Inspector Finch is one of the most convincing characters in the whole movie. He achieves this with a quiet concern always on his face and the constant impression that there is more going on in his mind than he lets out. Viewers will connect the most with Finch as he is the most accessible due to his more humanistic nature and understanding.

In all of this, there are a few roles that missed the mark a bit. Ben Miles’ performance as Dascomb had a good start but fell off as the movie went on. In a scene inside a television studio, he seems almost out of place and begins to overact as he tries to think up a plan. This happens again as he ponders how to cover up V’s murder of a prominent Norsefire party member. It appears as though Miles was thinking more about his body language than about his character’s plans.

Through and through, this movie was made with the intent of stimulating the mind of the viewer. Although it may seem over-intellectualized and out of reach in certain places, the message of responsibility rings through loud and clear. A few scenes did seem to go on just a bit too long, however the film would probably lack without them. “I suddenly had this feeling that everything was connected. It was like I could see the whole thing, one long chain of events,” says Finch. That is exactly what this movie is, one long chain. If it were missing just a single piece, it would be incomplete. All in all, V For Vendetta is worth the two hours…even if only once, just to bear witness to a revolution.

August 7, 2008 at 11:25 am 1 comment

V for Vendetta Raises the Bar For the Action Genre

Ryan Hendricks

ENG 215

V for Vendetta is an action packed thriller staring Natalie Portman (Evey), Hugo Weaving (V), and directed by James McTeigue. This story is a modern interpretation of the story of Guy Fawkes. Fawkes was member of the Roman Catholic Revolutionaries from England, and he planned to carry out a plot to destroy the English Parliament Building in 1605. This plot is similar to the plot that V plans to carry out against a fictional totalitarian regime that has taken over the British Government (Britannica.com).

In the film, the main character named V battles a totalitarian regime and conspires to destroy the English Parliament Building. A local reporter named Evey gets caught up in the revolution, and suddenly her life crosses paths with V. Evey’s relationship with V represents one half of the plot of the movie. This portion of the plot is a classic love story with a twist. Through weaving together many different genres, the director of V for Vendetta has created a rather interesting film that never fails to disappoint.

As mentioned earlier this film contains two main plots. The two plots combine into a love story that is wound around an action packed thriller, and this makes for a movie that is filled with plenty of unnecessary violence and warm love scenes. Delicately weaving these two genres together is by no means an easy task. Not only does V for Vendetta successfully combine two genres that are polar opposites; it makes important political statements which add to the intellectual depth of the film.

One of the strongest attributes of this movie is its ability to make political statements. This movie gives its viewers many reasons for denying totalitarianism, and all types of oppressive governments. Many viewers many only notice the action sequence and the at times subtle love story. However, for those of us with an imagination there exists more to this movie. This movie seems to make the case against the American occupation of Iraq. In the movie, the fictitious totalitarian regime uses fear to control the population. This is similar to the American war on terrorism in which President Bush used the treat of weapons of mass destruction to convince American’s to support a war that was unnecessary. It should be noted that this movie was released in 2006, which could give credence to the fact that the director was trying to subtly disapprove of the American occupation of Iraq.

The love scenes in the movie often at times seem out of place, and serve to distract the viewer from some of the subtle political statements. The love story develops between the two main characters, V and Evey. This relationship starts off as one that is necessary for their mutual survival. However, after a few scenes the relationship becomes a loving relationship. In the film, V is forced to torture Evey in order to increase her mental and physical strength. This is one of the tensest parts of the movie: Evey Hammond: “You got to me? You did this to me? You cut my hair? You tortured me? You tortured me! Why”?
V: “You said you wanted to live without fear. I wish there’d been an easier way, but there wasn’t”.

After being tortured and refusing to turn V into the authorities Evey gains the strength of character to confront the many things in her life that have been tormenting her. V also learns from Evey that during the most difficult of times he possesses the strength to carry on with the revolution. Even though the love story is at many times out of place, it teaches us an important life lesson that sometimes we need other people to help us tackle our most challenging life problems.

V for Vendetta is a movie that has many positive qualities that are evident as you watch the movie. The special effects in this movie are phenomenal, and keep the viewer thoroughly entertained. The scene where the English Parliament Building is blown up is an excellent example of special effects being used well in this movie. The color emanating from the screen lit up the room with a wide array of vivid colors.

In addition to making political statements this movie makes social statements as well. Two openly gay characters named Valerie and Gordon Dietrich play an important role in the movie. Both characters are persecuted for being gay in the movie by the evil Norsefire government. This movie aims to combat stereotypes of homosexuals by making their characters play pivotal roles in the movie. Gordon and Valerie are depicted as being some of the most heroic characters in the movie. Gordon refuses to give up his Koran and eventually dies for having illegal written materials. The Koran is more than just a religious book; it serves as a symbol of Gordon’s refusal to give up his personal freedom. Valerie shows strength in the movie by writing her autobiography in a jail cell. This autobiography written by Valerie inspires V to carry on with the revolution when he is confronted with significant obstacles, and thus Valerie’s strength was able to give strength to V.

This movie is an extremely good action film; however it does have some areas that need improvement. With a running time of over two hours this movie is extremely long for the action genre. Consequently, the movie seems to drag at the end, and this made the viewer wonder when the movie was going to finish. The script of this movie is another area that needs work. At times one feels as if the script is restricting the creativity and acting ability of the cast, especially Natalie Portman, who many consider to the one of the best actresses of her generation.

V for Vendetta is an excellent example of an action movie that works outside the normal conventions of the genre. The movie makes important political and social statements that add intellectual depth to the movie. The aforementioned factors combine with stellar graphics, and top notch acting to create a cinema masterpiece that will serve as a standard for many years to come. This is an excellent movie and it received a rating of 9 out of 10 stars. Do yourself a favor and see this movie, “remember, remember the fifth of November”.

Works Cited

“Guy Fawkes: A Biography.” Britanica. 7 Aug. 2008 <http://http://www.britannia.com/history/g-fawkes.html&gt;.

August 7, 2008 at 6:26 am Leave a comment

V For Vendetta—V For Very Good

 

                V For Vendetta is a movie that if you think you normally wouldn’t see, you should! If you are not a fan of graphic novels, you should see it as well! And if you are not into villains and violence, you just might be surprised with this one, because the villain in this movie, while some call a terrorist, others may call a freedom fighter. The villain’s quote “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” rings like the Joker’s “Riddle me this, riddle me that…” and sends shivers down our spines every time we hear it repeated like a sacred prayer.

            V, the leading character, is a man you might just love and hate…or at least that’s how Natalie Portman’s character, Evey, felt in the movie V For Vendetta, directed by James McTeigue. He is a man in a mask, whose purpose in life is to overthrow the UK Parliament in 2020. Within the first ten minutes of the film, we see the first of few violent scenes, where Evey is invited to an event that would be “like nothing she’s ever seen”—the explosion of the The Old Bailey, a courthouse in Britain—the first thing V does to bring down the government to show that “people shouldn’t be afraid of the government, the government should be afraid of people” and that “people blowing up a building can change the world.” Soon after the explosion, V announces in Trafalgar Square to the city that the government “needs to slow down and there’s something wrong with the country—if you want to know who’s guilty, then look in the mirror.” Are you interested yet? At this point, the viewer is swept into a foreign land and time, yet something feels familiar.

            Evey is chosen because she lost a brother and parents to a fire that burned down St. Mary’s, a hospital that V was in as well, but escaped. It is implied that the government planted a virus in the hospital, causing a biological attack that killed 178 people. That is the event that links the two characters together in an odd, unidentifiable relationship that is neither nurturing or loving, but appears to help Evey in ways she could not have imagined.

Evey endures as a puppet-like troop (actually, prisoner) of V because Evey wants to make things right too. At least that’s how her political parents would want her to be. The movie shows an overthrow of Parliament from beginning to end, spanning several years. Ultimately, we see that there were many individuals behind V’s revolution, but they are unmasked and unknown until the very end.   

            The presumed references to 9/11 might scare some, but the book, which it is based on, was written before 9/11. As a post-9/11 movie, one may be able to see many parallels to our government and world terrorism, and it is truly a thought-provoking movie that, after the second or third view reveals original, creative writing that yields deep symbolism and sub-plots that unravel simultaneously. Much like any world disaster, in the movie, life still goes on. Here we have priests attempting to kiss Evey, a young girl, and a comedy show portraying the chancellor as a funny guy, instead of the demon that V thinks he is. One strange and compelling thing to hear, however, was the U.S. with the word “former” in front of it. Can that actually happen? I began to think.

            This is a movie to be discussed in film, art, music and political science classes. The beauty of this futuristic, somewhat grimy, London is accompanied by a montage of political underlyings (There is a poster saying “strength through unity, unity through faith” that indicates V’s needs for people’s help) and foreshadowing and irony that makes you peer close to what the voices are saying  (“God is in the rain” is often repeated as much as you see the playback of V running, burning to near death, in the fire scene.) The musical score is the icing on the cake, utilized at the most brilliant times, indicating that the events that have occurred are indeed, celebratory.

            The cast is superb, as each character had a purpose and told a story. You begin to think the events and characters are real and the situations could someday, somehow arise. However, our feelings toward most characters remain neutral or so up and down because their behavior is so inconsistent. Evey tells V she loves him after he has had her head shaved and sent to a very Hitler-esque prison. It is very good to see that this relationship didn’t turn into anything more than it was, because not once did you see the face under the mask. It is not a relationship of love, but one of loyalty. He was very manipulative towards her, but she always came back for more, knowing that this was bigger than just the two of them and for the greater good.

            This is a must-see movie for young adults and adults, not for its special effects (although they were good and not overbearing), but more for the message it is telling about the governments that we exist in and our roles in them. It makes you wonder what our country (and others) will be like in the future and who our V and Evey would be. Overall, I give this piece four out of five stars.

 

–Catherine Livigni

 

August 7, 2008 at 3:37 am Leave a comment

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