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v for vendetta (and various veracious visions)

Catholic Media


v for vendetta (and various veracious visions)

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(this is a spoiler-free review)

the wachowski brothers' adaptation of alan moore's graphic novel does not disappoint as a stand-alone film (i haven't read the novel, but will now). though i understand moore didn't care for what was done with his story, the premise of the rise of an imperialist state in england following a civil war which renders the "former" united states a leper colony, is a timely cautionary parable. but this movie isn't about america, so the intended parallels of a government controling its people through fear generated by the media may be lost on the very people the producers are trying to edify. either way, moore's nightmares of fascist dystopia are as relevent today as they were 20 years ago when he wrote them.

this is one powerful movie that raises hard questions about the lengths to which a person should go to restore justice to a corrupt government and when terrorism (or perhaps in this case it should be described as counter-terrorism) becomes a necessary part of a dissenting faction's agenda.

psychologically frightening, the film does well not to overindulge in the glorification of the terrorist's acts and the character of V is nicely complex: he's human, but monstrous, and ultimately must take responsibility for his own monstrosity. though we never see actor hugo weaving's face, he does a great job making the character physcially interesting, charismatic, and sympathetic, but also deadly and uncompromising (no small task since he wears a mask throughout the entire movie). natalie portman is extraordinary as young Evey, who gets caught up in the terrorist agenda when she is rescued by the title character from corrupt "police" and finds herself unwittingly drawn into V's all-new gunpowder plot.

the film is beautifully shot and V's fawkes mask is appropriately disturbing (a la carnivale). no spoilers here, but for those of you anticipating a comic-book-style hero are in for some wonderful surprises. batman as an avenger and vigilante has nothing but a lot of cool bat-gizmos compared to V's commanding presence. and while the film only has a handful of violent scenes, i would say on the whole it's relatively restrained and places the emphasis on its message without being overbearing or sacrificing pacing or action.

a Catholic connection in this film that is never really stated can be found in the opening exposition about the 5th of november and the gunpowder plot ~ an interesting bit of british (and Catholic history) in which guy fawkes (and a band of others) plotted to blow up parliament and kill the royal family so as to overthrow the monarchy and bring an end to the Catholic oppression in england. can't say i would necessarily approve of such a thing (and neither did many who knew of it), but desperation brings men to desperate acts. unfortunately for fawkes, once the plot was uncovered and the parties drawn and quartered, it meant another 200 years of oppression for Catholics who were then not only treated as non-persons, but openly persecuted as "traitors". much martyrdom later, england would get more civilized and ecumenical, but it's still a subject on which feelings can run high. that, in and of itself, is an interesting springboard for discussion. if guy fawkes had succeeded would he be considered a hero or a villain today? it's the question Evey must struggle with when she's burdened with hard choices. "Why blow up parliament?" she asks. "It's just a building." "Because blowing up a building can change the world," V replies ~ something americans surely can relate to from the other side of the pond.

i thought what the Wachowski brothers did to From Hell (also alan moore's work) was appalling and unforgiveable. but i think this film vindicates them for me. one reviewer wrote:
V for Vendetta isn't the type of film that you watch again and again, nor is it a film for everyone, it's the type of polarizing experience that most people will either love or hate.
i don't entirely agree except that i do think people ought to see it for themselves to determine how it will speak to them. it's not a movie easily encapsulated or categorized. it's both Beauty and the Beast and The Matrix (but better). it's not a perfect movie, but whatever small shortcomings it may have in production (including natalie portman's painfully thin physique), it makes up for in its broader palette. it's a film about ideas and about how ideas can alter the course of history when there is action put behind them. whatever conclusions we may draw as to the morality of the terrorism, there are fundamental truths here well worth examining.

a view from the other side of the bridge ~
where the terrorists are the good guys

if you have seen this movie, share your thoughts!

: D
  • Very good review :). I didn't realize From Hell was a Wachowski film or based on an Alan Moore book...i thought it was rather dissappointing.
    • thank y ou ~ !

      ~ and yes, the From Hell film was a turd (can i say that? hahahahaha) ~ it's so unfortunate too because it's really a wonderful book. and johnny depp was so hopelessly miscast in that. ughhh.

      : o p
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