The movie V is for Vendetta was released in movie theaters on March 17, 2006. Directed by James McTeigue and produced by Joel Silver, Lana (formerly Lawrence) Wachowski , and Andy Wachowski, the film is based on a comic book of the same name by David Lloyd and Alan Moore, although both asked not to be credited. The movie takes place in the future and is set in the United Kingdom which is the last surviving country as the rest of the world is in turmoil including what in the movie is called the former US, the United States.
Immediately you can tell that the society is a dystopian one where the government, known as the “party”, is a fascist one that rules under strict orders and curfews for the citizens. There are not only these rules that the society must follow, there is also the British Television Network that is run by the government and is used to instill fear and to outright lie in order to control the citizens. Citizens who disobey the orders of the government risk being arrested by the Fingermen (a separate government run police), and sent to concentration camps.
Another way the “party” controls the society is by using listening devices to spy on people’s conversations and figure out if they are actually believing the lies that they are being told. This fear and the cruel nature of the “party” keep the citizens in order. There are loudspeakers on every corner of the town, that frequently remind citizens of their curfew and the other laws that are imposed on them as a country.
When the movie comes on we can hear a voiceover of the main character Evey- played by Natalie Portman saying:
“Remember, remember, the fifth of
November, the gunpowder treason and
Plot. I know of no reason why the
Gunpowder treason should ever be
She continues to speak in the background while we are shown the story of Guy Fawkes, a man who threatened to blow up the House of Parliament in 1605 but failed. Instead he was caught and killed.
Evey continues to speak:
“He was caught in the cellars with enough gunpowder to level most of London.”
“Sometimes I wonder where we would be if he hadn’t failed. I wonder if it would have mattered. I suppose the answer is in the rhyme. More than the man, what we must remember is the plot itself. For in the plot we find more than just a man, we find the idea of that man, the spirit of that man, and that is what we must never forget. This, then, is the story of that idea, of that spirit that began with an anarchist’s plot four hundred years ago.”
At this point the scene changes and she continues to speak in the background now speaking of her childhood and when things in the world changed. She speaks of how the society in the United Kingdom got to where it is “They offered such a simple deal; give up control and we will restore order.”…
After we are given the full background we meet Evey,( Natalie Portman) who is in her house watching the British Network Television station (where she also works), and getting prepared to go outside. We learn from the broadcaster “FATE” the date is November 4th in the year 2019 and it seems Evey is getting ready for an important date perhaps. Simultaneously, who we later find out to be V, is in his house getting prepared for what also seems to be an important date and is also watching the British Network Television while he gets ready.
Evey then leaves her house and while going to her destination is targeted by the Fingermen for being outside after her curfew. She gets into a fight with them and they are just about to rape her when “V” played by the actor Hugo Weaving, comes into the scene and kills the Fingermen. At this point he asks her to join him as he is a performer and wants her to hear his music. :
Fast forward and the next day V is able to break into the British News Network where Evey works and he broadcasts a message to the society over the emergency channels:
His goal throughout the movie is to kill off as many corrupt political officials and leaders to not only seek out his own revenge but in order to help rile up the citizens in London. He keeps Evey locked up in his home as he fears they may try to capture her in order to find him. She is later captured and sent to a concentration camp where she is tortured in order to hopefully obtain information about V. She becomes a different person during this time and not only transforms physically but also emotionally and mentally.
V’s pursuit is simple he hopes to succeed where Guy Hawkes failed. The film follows the events that take place over the year and is filled with suspense as Evey is catapulted into the events of V’s journey and is desperately trying to understand if this man who saved her when they first met is actually a friend or enemy. She struggles with who he is and who she is, while we see V is always determined and strong.
We are lead through the story of a corrupted government and the potential overturning of that government. It all depends on V and if he can go through with his plans. The dystopian society is based on many of the themes we have discussed in the course. Fear and Government are the main ones that come through as the citizens are in fear of the government and are ruled by that fear.
The notion of the great lie also is evident as the government has lied about many of the events that have taken place in history and events currently taken place in their lives. They lie not only about their country but other countries as well. Devising chaos and turmoil is another way that they try to convince citizens of their need for the “Party”. The end of the movie brings all of these themes together and we learn the final fate of Evey, V, the “Party”, and the dystopian society they live in.
2 thoughts on “V is For Vendetta”
One word kept popping up in my mind while reading this post: corruption. The ruling party does not care about its people even though they make it seem like they have a great society without war and crime. However, the government’s absolute control has allowed authoritative officers and leaders to abuse their power. Fingermen try to rape Evey when she is out past curfew; the Archbishop of the church is a child molester; and Norsefire, the ruling party, feeds false propaganda to its people. However, V works to kill these corrupt officials and bring their injustices to light—all while wearing a Guy Fawkes mask.
It seems that corruption has a knack for surfacing to the public. Looking at our own society, we’ve had our own share of political scandals—the Keating Five scandal in 1989, in which US Senators received campaign funding in exchange for helping Charles Keating (Chairman of Lincoln Savings and Loan Association) from being audited; congressmen, governors, and other political leaders have succumbed to sexual indignities (e.g. Elliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner); and the NSA spying/surveillance scandal went public in 2013. While guilty parties have not been brought to justice through ‘death by vigilante’, they were caught and/or reprimanded by the law.
However, Guy Fawkes lives on till this day. The hacker group, Anonymous, work outside of the law and have cyberattacked government, religious, and corporate websites/systems. They wear Guy Fawkes masks, made popular by this film, to display their anti-establishment stance. Last year, they began “Operation Free Korea” as an effort to install free democracy in North Korea and call for Kim Jung Un to resign. Many praised their efforts, as Anonymous released usernames and passwords for the North Korean regime’s web services and threatened to wipe its data. However, most recently, they threatened the singer Iggy Azalea—calling her “guilty”—to apologize to fellow singer Azealia Banks (they are having a public disagreement about blacks and hip-hop music) or Azalea’s alleged sex tape will be released to the public. It is clear that many people may disapprove of Anonymous’ use of powerful intimidation.
While viewers of the film may side with V, it’s hard to side with a vigilante in real life. People want to trust someone who works outside of the law, if his motives and goals align with ours. However, what if they didn’t? Then he is simply stripped of his vigilante title and is labeled a terrorist or criminal instead. Then he himself is the corrupt disease that must be stopped by the law. So, who decides whether he is the hero or the villain?
I just watched this movie over the weekend, and it terrified me. Those guys who listened into and watched what everybody was doing, and the high chancellor looking down from everybody on that huge screen, reminded me of Big Brother and the thought police from 1984. It also reminded me a little bit of We, except that the government used technology to spy on the people instead of glass.
V for Vendetta particularly made me thankful for the free speech we have in America. When the comedian makes fun of the high chancellor he is killed for it. If that were true here, Jimmy Fallon would be dead in a heartbeat. In fact, the entire news media would go down with him. This reminds me a lot of Stalinist Russia- everybody knows something is wrong and hates the government, but they do whatever this government orders and don’t say a word about it because of its totalitarian control. In V for Vendetta, fear is also the tool used to govern the people. Machiavelli says it is better to be feared than loved, but ideally a leader should have a mix of both. I found myself fearing V as a very powerful terrorist, but I also empathized with and respected him for having the courage to do something to change the corrupt world he lived in.
Comments are closed.