Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving star in the much acclaimed V for Vendetta, a film with vengeance and revolution at its heart. Commenting on fascism, totalitarianism as well as the very real fear of terrorism the film makes some interesting political statements.
Originally a graphic novel created by Watchmen creator Alan Moore, V For Vendetta is set in a strangely corrupted version of the UK where the right wing prevails, curfews are implemented by a cruel and intimidating force known as the ‘fingermen’ and freedom of speech is a thing of the past. The characters that inhabit this Orwellian setting are diverse and intriguing. Its protagonists Evey (Portman) and the masked V (Weaving) are linked from the off and their lives become increasingly entwined as the film progresses, culminating in a delectable chemistry. Having saved Evey from various perils V soon discovers that she is an ally he cannot afford to ignore. As he gains her trust she discovers how powerful his revolutionary intents are. Having emerged from a harrowing past V aims on bringing down the government that sanctioned his detention in a scientific experimentation facility that ultimately saw his body horribly scarred.
With V the film boasts a verbose and physically-adept anti-hero. Although his explosive actions and plans are deemed to be against the state (and lead to him being classed as a terrorist) he insists his actions are for the good of the people; and in most respects they are. Hood-winked and conditioned by its government the society portrayed in V For Vendetta need the masked ‘terrorist’ in order to free themselves from the shackles imposed upon them. Through promising to carry out the work Guy Fawkes couldn’t centuries before, V offers hope in a world where hope has been replaced with government and laws. His words are powerful when he addresses the nation but even his confidant Evey needs some gruelling (and rather cruel) goading to believe what is good for her.
V’s revolution plays out against the film’s detective strain where Detective Finch begins to unravel the mystery behind the nation’s would-be saviour. Although Finch is likeable he is, unfortunately, rather forgettable when he has the likes of burgeoning ideals, totalitarianism and a stellar performance from Stephen Fry to contend with. V’s ideals, although quite different from his graphic novel counterpart who favoured anarchy over the film’s quest for freedom are both commendable and memorable. In labelling V a terrorist the film’s villainous government also manages to highlight the highly poignant idea that terrorists are only human; it being there ideals that should ultimately be feared. The corruptibility of religion is a recurring theme whilst the imposition of government jargon on the national consciousness hits very close to home.
Although Natalie Portman’s English accent is a little too perfect and the film preaches its point a little too sharply at points it is nonetheless intellectually stimulating as well as being a riveting story. Filled with red herrings, the film’s ideas are fascinating and brings revolution to the apparently stable UK’s doorstep. In kissing V Evey makes an important gesture, although she clearly loves the man who proved to be both her captor and her saviour it also symbolises the love she holds for the ideals he holds. In standing up against government he captures the nation’s attention and unites them against their subtle oppression. When everyone who has died throughout the film appears in the film’s chaotic ending the film’s echo of the cyclic nature of life is revealed. In revealing themselves as hiding behind replicas of V’s mask the dead hark back to film’s proclamation that ideas live on even if their mortal representatives do not.
Viva la revolution!
Best bit: The climatic end is great whilst all of V’s speeches are captiavting.
Best performance: Stephen Fry
Best line: Any of V’s (including his quoting “By the power of truth, I, a living man, have conquered the universe”) as well as ‘ideas are bulletproof’
Watch this if you liked: The Matrix, The Concert, Nineteen Eighty Four
V’s mysterious voice, which happens to be that of Hugo Weaving’s (star of the Matrix trilogy) is also the voice used for Rex, the less than friendly sheepdog in Babe.