Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

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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.
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