V For Vendetta

V For Vendetta

Adapted from the 1980s comic, written by Alan Moore with artwork by David Lloyd (and contributions from Tony Weare), V For Vendetta has become traditional watching for Bonfire Night since its release in 2006. I’ve read parts of the comic, but I’ll mostly focus on the film. This article contains spoilers.

In the near future, after the disintegration of the United States, and with the rest of Europe under siege by a deadly virus, Britain is run as a facist police state by a totalitarian government, headed by Chancellor Adam Sutler (John Hurt, ironically also in 1984). This dictatorship boasts heavy surveillance, curfew for ‘citizen protection’, and corrupt secret police known as Fingermen. The government have complete media control, censoring news and issuing goverment-approved cultural material. Everything considered ‘other’ is dangerous, with political protesters and ‘enemies of the state’ removed to concentration camps.

Our anti-hero ‘V’ (Hugo Weaving) crosses paths with Evey (Natalie Portman), the daughter of political activists and employee of state-run TV station BTN, and enlists her help. After ‘V’ infiltrates the BTN, he broadcasts a message to the people of the UK, citing revolution and rebellion:

Evey, now considered a fugitive, is taken in by ‘V’ and begins to understand his motivations and empathise with his cause. However, after witnessing first hand ‘V”s stolen contraband and violent agenda, she flees to the home of friend Dietrich (Stephen Fry). After parodying Sutler on his TV show, Dietrich is ‘bagged’ by the government. Evey is also taken, but not by the government, as she believes. In an elaborate psychological experiment, ‘V’ imprisons Evey for several months, humiliating, interrogating and torturing her for information, simulating the real-life experiences of many citizens. Once she discovers the truth, she eventually considers it a kind of awakening. She is fearless and therefore the government are powerless against her sense of self.

Since his initial speech, ‘V’ has set into motions a chain of events caused by the people’s acknowledgement of their dissatisfaction with their government. With a plan to succeed where Guy Fawkes and the other conspirators failed, ‘V’ has asked people to join him outside the Houses of Parliament, in masks just like his, on November 5th a year after his broadcast. Even the police, after discovering the horrors created by their own government and the tragedy of ‘V’s origin, empathise. This protest is the amalgamation of an idea and that idea is chaos in their ordered world. And “ideas are bulletproof“, as ‘V’ tells us.

Whilst the film has many a plot hole, it is visually and aurally satisfying, has a cracking cast (imcluding Roger Allam as a bigoted soldier turned obnoxious TV ranter) and some ridiculous slow-motion action scenes (courtesy of the team that brought you The Matrix). It explores themes of revolution, rebellion, state control and the power of individuals.

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