This past weekend I went to see V for Vendetta. It wasn’t something I had planned on seeing immediately, I was planning on waiting for the DVD. My husband really wanted to see it so I went as well. I thought it would be just another comic book inspired Hollywood blockbuster with no real message or agenda. I was wrong. Even though the movie was based on a comic book created about 25 years ago, the movie presented ideas that are relevant not only to affairs in the world today, some would say that the filmmakers were offering their commentary on the policies of Bush Administration and terrorism. However, they also resemble affairs that took place in the 1700’s.
The movie is set in a not too distant future Great Britain where in the name of security a totalitarian style government has evolved in the wake of war, poverty and disease. The Government is similar to the government in Great Britain during the 1700’s. The Chancellor, Sutler, and his regime reminded me of King George and the English Parliament which had become too controlling and too powerful leading up to the American Revolution. In the movie there are government finger-men who are the equivalent of King George’s standing army. It is through these men that we are introduced to an average young woman named Evey. She encounters them while out after curfew one evening, by “coincidence” a masked man, known only as V, comes to her aid and fends off her would be attackers. This accomplishes a couple of things right off the bat. Number one, it introduces the audience to the idea that we will be following Evey throughout the film, we will see things as she sees them we will become aware of things as she does. Secondly, it introduces V as an admirable protagonist; our vigilante hero. Or is he?
Shortly after he rescues her from the finger-men the very eccentric V invites Evey to accompany him to a concert that he is conducting that evening, to which she agrees. As he begins to conduct an invisible orchestra on the roof tops of London, as music begins to play from the government sound system that lines the street the entire neighborhood awakens, V begins the climax of the piece and the church across the street explodes in numerous bomb blasts, fireworks are set off and the music continues to play. It’s at this moment that the film changes and we realize at this point that this is not going to be your average comic book movie.
We follow V as he begins to unravel Sutler’s government as he plans to unite the citizens challenging them to join him on November 5th of the following year as his plan culminates in the violent act of blowing up Parliament, much like the Catholic’s plot to overthrow the English parliament that had failed in the 1700’s. It would appear that V is a valiant freedom fighter. However, it is slowly revealed that V is not only trying to remove an oppressive government, but he is also out for revenge against the people who had held him prisoner and destroyed his life. V had been held captive and almost killed by the government and everyone who played a part in his torture, and imprisonment are now in high government positions. Taking his personal revenge, V murders each of them. Not exactly the acts of a typical hero.
As one of the best comic book movies ever, V for Vendetta definitely delivers everything you would expect from a big budget Hollywood blockbuster; it has great action, a wonderfully unique story, and fully developed, interesting characters. But this movie offers much more than that. The filmmakers also use this movie to offer their commentary on the Bush Administration’s policies and to ignite debate by its audience, debate over issues like, terrorism, violence, domestic spying, and government. When is it acceptable to use violence to overthrow an oppressive government? The biggest issue that the movie deals with is the relationship between governments and their people. The title character, V, is a terrorist or freedom fighter, depending on your point of view, who is striving to unite the people to rise up against an oppressive totalitarian government. He is fighting for the good of the people. Throughout the movie the filmmakers challenge us to reevaluate the way we think about violence, terrorism, revolution, and vengeance. The hero is a freedom fighter using terrorist tactics, but he is not attacking a foreign country and murdering innocent people. He goes against a government that has taken total control of the people forcing them to live their lives in fear. I feel that the heart of this movie can be summed up by one of its own lines, V tells Evey that, “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”