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V for Vendetta

Years ago, when I read Alan Moore and David Lloyd's V for Vendetta, I didn't like it. I came to it after reading a lot of Moore's later work, and it struck me simply as bland and, for the large part, cold. A lot of Moore's early work, such as Halo Jones and D.R. and Quich and even the early work with Superman, are quite emotionally cold, I find. Almost as if they were technical exercises, and very little else.

Which is how I found V for Vendetta.

It was also why I was going to avoid the film, really. Cinema has made a good butchers work of Moore's scripts and I figured that anything with the W-Bros in it wasn't going to be rising above this. Still, the blogworld were filled with people saying that, hey, this is okay, so that when one of my friends said he wanted to see a film, and see this film, I agreed. Besides, it was pretty much one of the last days I could use my student discount card. You have to put these things into perspective, you know?

So I went, sat, watched, and you know, it is not a bad film. It isn't a great film, either, mind you, and it's very simple in its portrayal of a dystopia, or the politics surrounding it. At one stage, actually, it occurred to me that the film was really more an alternate history film, where the future was defined by Nazi Germany winning power, if they hadn't used death camp stuff. There was John Hurt looking a little Hitlerish and a little Big Brotherish (and ho ho, he was Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty Four) and the Fingerman symbol didn't look that far from the Nazi swastika, and everyone was white... well, perhaps the Nazi bit is going too far, but the thought occurred to me.

V for Vendetta is set in a future where people have lost their freedoms, where the news lies to them, where people disappear, suddenly, where, basically, things are not too good. There are curfews, homosexuality is outlawed, material is banned, and I'm sure you can draw yourself a picture. Into this world steps V, his features hidden behind a Guy Fawkes mask, and who is on a quest for revenge, while also trying to incite the populace of Britain to rise up and get back their freedoms. One of his first acts--almost out of character, given his later statements on revenge and his goal driven agenda--is to rescue the young Evy, played by Natalie Portman, from being raped.

(Portman's accent, by the way, changes as her character does. It's quite funny. As Evy moves away from being the pretty, scared woman, and into the independent, tough woman, her accent turns rougher, more cockney, even.)

The real problem with the film, however, can be drawn from one of the central theories. It suggests, through V, that an idea does not exist within any one person, that ideas are stronger than people. Which is all fine and dandy except that V for Vendetta has a plot about the man behind the mask, and his reasons for vengeance, about the horrors that have been inflicted on him, and which, in the end, negates the idea of people rising up against their country, or being in control, for them moving beyond the individual to embrace an idea. The two central strands of the film--that of the personal and that of the political--do not, therefor, bond together within the film, and by the end, as you are given final climaxes that grow out of personal conflicts, it begins to ring hollow and shallow and just not terribly thought out.

Still, if you ignore the political, and view the film rather as a revenge film, set in a dystopian society, it is a slightly stronger film. It makes sense, for one, and it's even entertaining for the most part.

Comments

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frumiousb
Mar. 31st, 2006 06:44 am (UTC)
Good to hear. I have been very suspicious about seeing it. I heard an interview with Moore where he felt like they just changed *way* too much about the comic for it to have anything to do with his work. I actually agree with what you said about his work often being very cold, but I still really respect him. The fact that he went to such lengths to get his name off the project made me quite nervous.

But perhaps I'll go and see it.
benpeek
Mar. 31st, 2006 10:24 am (UTC)
you know, they really haven't changed that much of the comic, from memory. i mean, obviously it has been changed, but there not in the ways that FROM HELL or LEAGUE were.
ex_chrisbil
Mar. 31st, 2006 08:59 am (UTC)
I read an interview with Alan Moore too... which just made me think he's a a bit of a tit really, sometimes. You can take the whole troubled artist thing too far...

I was glad that the blog world (for once) didn't have to take an extreme stance on either side of this movie, and acted it's age (which is probably about five or ten now, right? Haha...) by saying "you know what? It's ok. Go and see it if you feel like it."

So I did, and it was cool. It helped that I went with someone very pretty.
deadcities_icon
Mar. 31st, 2006 09:19 am (UTC)
What? You took me to a movie and didn't even tell me???
ex_chrisbil
Mar. 31st, 2006 09:41 am (UTC)
Yeh, remember? We got it half price 'cos we put our heads together and bought the tickets while facing backwarsds so they thought it was just one big giant mullet... he said it looked like an orange on a toothpick!
benpeek
Mar. 31st, 2006 11:27 am (UTC)
i think moore was more upset by the fact that someone thought he was part of a plagiarism case, whre he just made up his work to cover a studio exec's ass. or something like that. so i can understand where he's coming from, though i think he should just say he won't sell his work to hollywood, even if it means leaving the artist in a fucked position.

anyhow, i went with ugly people.

i need pretty people.
ex_chrisbil
Mar. 31st, 2006 12:34 pm (UTC)
Ah, well I screwed up things with my pretty person pretty good two days later. You can have her!
benpeek
Mar. 31st, 2006 12:42 pm (UTC)
just remember to poke holes in the box, thank you.
(Deleted comment)
benpeek
Mar. 31st, 2006 11:27 am (UTC)
the accent is a great laugh :)
strangedave
Mar. 31st, 2006 04:58 pm (UTC)
Hmmm... I had quite a different reaction. I see what you mean by bland and cold, but I took that as virtues, in much the same way as I might describe Le Carre as bland and cold, or the TV show Callan. The cold and bland lets the morality play stand without being padded with histrionics and spectacle. But its thoroughly a question of taste.

The regimes symbol is far more swastika like in the comic, and the Nazi analogy more explicit.

I think the politics of the film became muddled when they change it from the graphic novels overt anarchism to a sort of extremely pissed off small-l liberal fantasy. Anarchists have no problem reconciling politics with individuals making a difference!
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