V For Verisimilitude

I saw V for Vendetta on Monday. Therefore I shall write about it here.

With spoilers.

You have been warned.

I only read the comic for the first time last year, so I never really connected with the background of the millieux presented by Alan Moore in the book. I understand why there was a need to alter it in the movie, giving it a more up to date topical setting and tying it with current events.

A Neccessary Reflection of The Here And Now

[[image:v00.jpg:Vox Populi:right:0]]As as example of what I’m talking about, the movie talks about the Norsefire regime in the UK rising into power because of the release of the St. Mary’s Virus as a terrorist attack in England killing 80,000 souls. Soon after the supposed terrorists were captured, tried and executed. The conservatives played upon the fear of the people and became the ruling party, thus plunging the UK into a fascist state where among others blacks, homosexuals, and Muslims are imprisoned.

In the graphic novel, regime took power after a limited nuclear war which left the United States and Europe decimated, somewhat an outdated notion leftover from the Cold War. It would have been a powerful concept in the early 1980s when it was written, but it’s lost its potency now.

Therefore, I understand why there was a need to refer to terrorists attacking on a county’s home soil, triggering the need for a ultra-conservative party to take total control and enforce their standards upon an entire nation, thus sacrificing personal liberty for safety.

I understand the reason for this change, I said. But I do not necessarily agree with this.

A Protagonist Is Not Necessarily The Hero

V For Vendetta was never about one man’s fight to liberate the sould of a nation. It was quite simply a study on fascism, as portrayed by the Norsefire regime, and anarchy. V is no hero. He tortures Evey Hammond. He destroys buildings. He kills. He takes the structure of an oppresive society and uses the legacy and imagery of Guy Fawkes to wreak havoc upon not only the government, but the people.

I guess what bothers me the most about the is the ending where thousands of Londoners join together wearing Guy Fawkes masks to witness the destruction of the Parliament building and Big Ben (it was 10 Downing Street in the comic), despite the military being there. Having the military let them pass by and allowing them to all watch the explosion together and removing their mask together turned the movie’s ending into a sudden feel-good, (dare I say it) Disney-esque conclusion where it was implied everyone would live happily ever after thanks to V.

Despite the Leader’s death and those close to him, what was there to ensure that no one else would seize control of the government and order the military to fire on the mask wearers just after the end, and the next morning even with a new government everything was status quo?

I prefer the comic’s ending (without the masks) where it was explicity shown that the government collapsed violently and the entire city descended into violent anarchy where people died. And the only one to don a Guy Fawkes mask in the end was Evey who inherited the Shadow Gallery upon V’s death. In the end, fascism was dead. But it would be along time before any semblance of order could be achieved to ensure fascism would not return in the immediate future.

The Movie on Movie Merits

[[image:v01.jpg:Rebirth:left:0]]Moving backwards from the ending and watching the movie on its own merit, I have mostly good things to say about the movie. Director James McTeigue brought together the Wachowski Brothers’ script with beautifully-shot (but not over the top) visuals, subtle but evocative score (the rooftop rain sequence as shown to the left), sparse but effective action sequence, and turned them into a fantastic movie. It makes you root for Finch (even though it was Finch that shot V in the comic) and it makes you feel for Evey’s odyssey thoughout the movie.

I am saddened by two things. This was the last movie worked on by acclaimed cinematographer Adrian Biddle, who worked on movies like Aliens, Willow, The Mummy and Reign of Fire. He gifted this movie some great visuals, and the movie is dedicated to him.

The other thing I’m saddened by is the credits that mentions David Lloyd as the only creator of the graphic novel. It should have been both David Lloyd and Alan Moore up there, but I can understand why Mr. Moore refused it after his much-publicised dispute about League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and From Hell.

Even then, I think this movie is much, much better in quality compared to the other two movies adapted from his comics.

Posted in Movie Review and tagged , , .

Khairul Hisham J. is a tabletop RPG artist, writer, proofreader, translator, teacher, grad student and learner-in-general.

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