Tuesday, February 1, 2011

V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta is a stunning film. It is set in a near-future totalitarian Britain where the government's power is absolute. Curfews are strictly enforced. Special police make examples of those who question. The media and newspapers are tailored and falsified to support the government's point of view. Clearly, this is a situation that needs change.

V for Vendetta follows the actions of three people:

V is a mysterious masked figure who, for reasons revealed in the movie, believes utterly that the government of this fictional Britain needs drastic change. Channeling the charisma and flouted nobility of Zorro, V seeks to shock the people of Britain into action, inspiring them to take control of their own destinies from a government that merely wants to control them. And, channeling the revenge-focused inhuman determination of Edmund Dantes, V also desires vengeance upon those who have wronged him, forcing him to wear a mask and act alone.

Then, on the other hand, we have Chief Inspector Eric Finch. Finch heads the government team tasked with finding and arresting or killing V. Through his eyes, we, as the audience, see firsthand what makes the government flawed and also what makes V an extreme and manipulative figure. Finch himself wrestles with his conscience throughout the movie, unable to decide on which side and which idea is the right one. Will stopping V restore stability? Or will supporting him allow a chance for real change?

Finally, we have Evey Hammond, a girl who unintentionally becomes embroiled in the center of it all. She is perhaps the most interesting character of all, a symbol of the people. Her every waking moment is in fear and, through V's extreme tutelage, she is able to understand that perhaps that is no way worth living. She is in an interesting position, able to learn of the individual who identifies himself as V, and similarly able to realize that V is not entirely sane. Without her, it feels as if the film would have been far more two-dimensional; the forces of anarchy and change versus the enforced stability of government and leadership. But, with her inclusion, the characters become more multifaceted and the sides more complex and real. She is the lens through which the world and people of V for Vendetta become enhanced and brilliant.

A World Consumed by Fear

On the surface, V for Vendetta is an extreme reaction to the events in the George W. Bush administration, where the issue of security became paramount, issuing in a number of controversial changes such as the Patriot Act and increased government surveillance powers. V for Vendetta is an extrapolation of the fears that arose from that time period; what if the need for security was exacerbated to its maximum?

However, that is also an oversimplification of what V for Vendetta seeks to do. Fears of totalitarian regimes are hardly original or uncommon. George Orwell's 1984 is an earlier example. It is taken for granted that the regime is a dark and terrible evil; countless images evoke similarities to the extremes of the Nazis and the Soviet Union. And the reason for this is that the totalitarian government is not the focus. Instead, what makes V for Vendetta unique is its emphasis on empowering people to do what they believe is right. Time after time, the movie illustrates that, through the power of ideas and standing up for what you believe, even the most ordinary person can change the world. And this is an inspiring theme.

Rebirth and Renewal

But perhaps even more interesting to me was the character of Evey and how, through facing her fears, she is able to move on and grow as a person. This is actually one of the more crucial scenes of the movie. She undergoes enormous psychological and physical trauma and, despite all that, comes to learn that nobody can take away her spirit unless she lets them. In a sense, it helps us to see that, when it comes down to it, fear is merely something of the mind that can be conquered when worse comes to worse. This is of direct correlation to life and follows the quote, "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger." Even the worst things that happen to us in life can result in making you a better person for them. And, through the suffering and rebirth of Evey, we are reminded of that.

The character of V himself is also another example of this, although his path and end is a different one. Through V we see that, sometimes, it is better to allow yourself to open up to others instead of relying on yourself. V focuses on his goal with such fearlessness and such determination that it is hard to do anything but admire him. But the truth is that he is a deeply flawed character, and the movie definitely points this out, if you are paying attention. His focus is so powerful that his idea essentially consumes him; he does not even identify himself as an individual anymore. Thus does the most powerful and charismatic figure of the movie become the most tragic one.


In the end, it is clear to see that V for Vendetta a favorite of mine. It features deep themes both personal and political. It features characters of unsurpassed depth and interest. You can see yourself in any of them, be it the uncertainty of Finch, the growth of Evey, or the obsession of V. The dialogue is smart, the filming intense and exciting.

My only warning would be to point out that this is a very dark movie. Torture, emotional and physical, is present. The totalitarian government of the film is a nasty one. And V himself is an extremist who kills a lot of people. However, the ending is wholly inspiring and the overall message is a great one. Thus does this movie come with my highest recommendation.


  1. I absolutely agree, and this is one of my favorite movies. Great quote, V to Evey: "Would you prefer a lie or the truth?"

    Have you read the comic yet?

  2. I've read half the comic twice. I always end up deciding, "This is too depressing. I want to read something else," before finishing.

    But I do want to finish it at some point! On my vast list of things to do...