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 V for Vendetta - A Review

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ScoutsHonor

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PostSubject: V for Vendetta - A Review   Sat 05 Dec 2009, 9:48 pm

http://www.emcit.com/emcit128.php?a=9

Who Was That Masked Man?

V for Vendetta - A Review
Issue#128 - April 2006

By Pádraig Ó Méalóid





Put simply, V for Vendetta is one
of the best films I’ve ever seen. Its impact on me when I first saw it
was such that I found myself in tears almost continually from beginning
to end. On the other hand, I can give you a very good argument as to
why the film should never have been made in the first place. More on
that later, after a quick synopsis of the film.

The setting for V for Vendetta is
Britain in the near future, with a far-right, fascist regime in charge.
After a brief piece about Guy Fawkes, presumably for the US audiences,
who may not have heard of him, the film starts with Evey Hammond, a
young PA for British Television Network, going out to keep an
assignation with Gordon Dietrich, one of her superiors at work. Evey
knows she will be out after the 11:00 pm curfew, but decides to take a
chance anyway. She is soon in trouble with the Fingermen, this
government’s version of the secret police, and is about to be raped and
probably killed, when a mysterious figure, wearing a cloak, hat, and
Fawkesian mask, appears, kills her attackers in spectacular fashion,
and introduces himself with a long monologue largely consisting of
words beginning with the letter V. This is worth repeating here, not
only because it more or less sets out his basic motivations, and
because I’ll want to refer to it later, but because is also quite a
decent piece of writing:

"In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both
victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate. This visage, no mere
veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the
vox populi,
now vacant, vanished; a vital voice once venerated, now vilified.
However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation now stands
vivified, and has vowed to vanquish those venal and virulent vermin
vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violent, vicious, and voracious
violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance. A vendetta, held
as votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one
day vindicate the vigilant and virtuous. Yet verily, this vichyssoise
of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it is my very
great honour to meet you, and you may call me V."


V then brings Evey up to the rooftops of London, just in time for him to conduct an imaginary orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture,
which starts playing over the city’s ever-present loudspeaker system,
and which climaxes with the explosive destruction of the Old Bailey,
complete with fireworks, just as Big Ben strikes midnight. The date is
the fifth of November.

Within hours, the government’s various agencies are trying to get to
grips with the situation. The Finger, in charge of security services;
The Eye, in charge of visual surveillance; and The Ear, in charge of
audio surveillance, are all trying to find out what they can. Two
further agencies, The Mouth and The Nose, in charge of propaganda and
criminal detection respectively, attempt to deal with the situation in
their own ways. The Mouth releases a statement about a scheduled
nighttime demolition of what was a dangerous old building, with the
fireworks put down to high spirits by one of the workers. In the
meantime, Eric Finch, once a policeman but now reluctantly in charge of
The Nose, is trying to find the culprit using good old-fashioned police
work. From this point, the film goes into high gear, and simply never
stops until the very last shot. To say more than that would simply be
giving away too much. Along the way it has time to be a political
thriller, a detective story, a conspiracy theory, and a love story, of
sorts. It’s possibly even a SF story, if the fact that it’s set in the
near future is enough to allow it to qualify. It seems to be influenced
by all sorts of things: obviously the original graphic novel by Alan
Moore and David Lloyd, but also by things like 1984, Beauty and the Beast, The Count of Monte Cristo,
and of course the story of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. It’s
also, of course, a product of the times in which it was made, in the
same way the original story was a product of its own times. And it’s
really, truly, absolutely, one of the finest things I’ve ever seen on a
cinema screen.

From this point on, I may be revealing more about the film than
you wish to know at this point, but I’ll do my best not to ruin any of
the actual surprises. None the less, you have been warned!

V for Vendetta

is the story of a year in the lives of three characters — V, Evey, and
Finch — and the world in which they live. All three will be transformed
by the end of it, and the world they live in will be transformed also.
V starts by seeking only revenge for his hideous treatment twenty years
before, and finds compassion through love. Evey wishes not to live in
fear any more, and finds strength through revelation. Finch wants to
find the truth, and is illuminated by the truth he finds. All three
characters are well realized, and very well acted indeed. Natalie
Portman, in spite of her slightly wobbly accent at times, is
harrowingly good as Evey and Stephen Rea gives a very solid performance
as policeman Eric Finch. Hugo Weaving does astonishing things with his
role as V, given that he spends the entire film wearing a mask and
dressed in black. Subtle movements of the head and slight changes of
body posture, along with clever lighting and direction, serve to give
what is a fixed and seemingly immutable Guy Fawkes mask a whole range
of emotions.

V is probably the most intriguing character to grace the big screen
for many years. He’s part action hero, part political activist. He’s a
dangerous anarchist and a champion of democracy. He is, undoubtedly, a
demented lunatic, but also a dashing and mysterious romantic male lead.
This last aspect — that of an attractive and romantic figure — is
certainly one that I would never have imagined, but I have been assured
by several ladies of my acquaintance that this is definitely the case.
On top of this V’s home, the Shadow Gallery, is simply magnificent. It
is full to the brim with books and paintings and various cultural
artifacts of all sorts, whether high art or popular culture. Jan van
Eyck’s The Arnolfini Marriage shares wall space with a framed copy of The Beezer,
and native carvings from all over the world are scattered on tables and
desks. Evey’s bedroom is simply stuffed with precariously stacked
mountains of books. It’s the kind of place any sane person would want
to live, and makes a very attractive and intriguing backdrop for
certain scenes in the film.

Lots of other actors give great performances. John Hurt as High
Chancellor Adam Sutler is suitably angry throughout, only addressing
his underlings through a huge television screen, much like Big Brother
in 1984. It makes an interesting
contrast to Hurt’s own role in the film version of that book. He played
Winston Smith, whose torture and transformation finds an echo in Evey’s
own transformation. Tim Piggott-Smith is superbly menacing as Creedy,
the head of The Finger and a thoroughly nasty piece of work. Stephen
Fry, essentially playing himself, gives a very touching and very moving
performance as Gordon Deitrich, a performance that would make the film
worth seeing all on its own.

On the other hand. . .
Much has been made of the fact that Alan Moore is not a supporter of the movie of V for Vendetta.
There are good and strong reasons for this, as I hope I can show. To do
this, I’ll have to delve a little into the history of Moore’s work.

I read the first installment of V for Vendetta in the first issue of Warrior in 1982, where it shared space with another of Moore’s finest works, Marvelman. I have a long interest in all the works of Alan Moore, more or less stemming from the time I read that first issue of Warrior.
Moore is undoubtedly the finest and most important comics writer in the
world now, and possibly ever. Despite this, he has suffered from very
shabby treatment at the hands of most of the comics companies he worked
for. The back-story of V, particularly, needs to be understood.

The UK comics magazine Warrior, in which V
first appeared, lasted for twenty six issues, ending in 1984, by which
point the story was a little over halfway through. At the time there
was a lot of interest in comics in the media. The idea that comics were
actually a legitimate form of literary expression, and that they could
actually be read by adults, was starting to be felt. The way the comics
companies were dealing with the creative people behind comics was also
changing. That process would eventually lead to big companies — such as
DC and Marvel — publishing comics that were still copyrighted to the
original creators, rather than automatically becoming the property of
the company as had always been the case in the past. Moore was at the
very spearhead of this, along with Frank Miller and others. However, at
the time that Moore went to negotiate a deal with DC, along with
co-creator and V artist David Lloyd, and Warrior editor Dez Skinn, those kinds of contracts were still a while away.

The contract that Moore and co ended up with was this: DC would publish V
as a ten-issue mini-series, beginning in 1988, and subsequently as a
graphic novel, which appeared in 1990, and would own the right to the
series, and the character, and in general could do as they wished with
it, as long as they kept it in print. However, if the graphic novel
went out of print, the rights would then revert to Moore and Lloyd.
This all seemed fair enough, except that no-one could have foreseen
that the graphic novel would be continuously in print from then until
now, therefore, by it’s very success, forever keeping his creation out
of Moore’s reach. When DC sold the movie rights for V
to parent company Warner Bros, they didn’t need Moore’s permission to
do so, and went ahead regardless of his opinions on the subject.
Certainly movies had been made of DC properties before, but these were
generally of characters that were part of the DC pantheon, and had been

written by numerous people over many years, and could certainly not be
seen as being the product of a single creative team.

Even at that point, Moore was prepared to allow things to simply
proceed as they were. True, two previous movie versions of his works, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
(LoEG), were less than wonderful, but at least he more or less knew
that was going to be the case and, having sold the rights, was content
to leave the moviemakers to it, as long as they left him alone.
Unfortunately, two things happened that finally finished Moore’s desire
to have any involvement with Hollywood, the second of which
specifically caused him to take an adversarial position on the movie of
V.

First of all he was drawn into a court case involving LoEG, claiming that that movie was substantially stolen from a screenplay called A Cast of Characters.
There was, apparently, quite an amount of similarity between the two
screenplays, but these similarities only came about in that version,
and were entirely absent from Moore’s original work. None the less, he
found himself giving a ten-hour deposition for the case. It was at this
point that he decided that he wanted his name taken off all movies
based on his works, and that, if he owned the rights to something, he
simply wouldn’t sell those rights to Hollywood in the first place.

The final straw for Moore began in 2005 with a phone call from Larry Wachowski, V’s
writer/producer. Moore politely told him that he didn’t want anything
to do with films and simply wished to get on with his writing. And that
should have been that. But it wasn’t… Moore was soon made aware of a
press release about a press conference given by Joel Silver, the film’s
producer, and its cast. In this, Silver said that Moore was, "very
excited about what Larry [Wachowski] had to say and Larry sent the
script . . ." Moore felt, quite rightly, that his name was being used
to endorse the film against his explicit instructions. Indeed that
they’d managed to quote pretty much the exact opposite of his actual
feelings about the project, and about the film industry in general. He
requested, through his Wildstorm editor, Scott Dunbier, that DC/Warner
Brothers should issue a retraction of what he described as "blatant
lies — that’s the phrase I’m groping for." What he wanted, he said, was
a retraction, a clarification, and a modest apology, released in a
similar manner to the original press release. Silver’s words were
removed from the movie’s website, but there was no retraction, although
DC’s president, Paul Levitz tried to get Silver to make one. When
Moore’s two-week deadline passed, and there was no apology forthcoming,
Moore was true to his word. He finished his contracted work for
ABC/Wildstorm/DC, which consists of finishing a hardback LoEG book, and a story for Tom Strong, and will now never work for DC again.

And that’s why Alan Moore wants to have nothing to do with the movie version of V for Vendetta.
It is for that reason that I’m so personally torn about the fact
that I like the film so much. I absolutely agree that Moore and David
Lloyd deserve to have their intellectual property returned to them. On
the same line of reasoning, I can see that Moore wouldn’t have wanted
the film made, and have no choice but to agree. However, the film did
get made, and we can only judge it on what it is, and not what it might
have been, or indeed might not have been.

One person who occasionally gets forgotten in all this is David Lloyd, who was the artist and co-creator on V for Vendetta.
Unlike Alan Moore, Lloyd was fully in favor of the film, and the point
could be argued that the film more closely resembles the story drawn by
Lloyd that it does the story written by Moore. Lloyd’s role in creating
V was not just following art
direction given by Moore either. The character of V was largely
designed by him and the ways in which the story was told, like
foregoing thought bubbles and sound effects, were at his suggestion.
These ideas had far-reaching consequences as Moore and Lloyd were,
unknown to themselves, rewriting the grammar of comics as they went
along. I sometimes have difficulties with the story of V,
which is not without flaws. Even Moore himself acknowledges this in the
introduction he wrote for the series. But it is undeniably one of the
milestones in the development of comics for a more mature audience, and
one of the books on which the current popularity of graphic novels is
based.

There are any number of differences between the film and the
original graphic novel. If you are going to go see it hoping that it is
a direct translation onto the screen of the original then you are bound
to be disappointed. The book was originally written in the Britain of
the 1980’s, and reflects it’s time. The film was made in the US in the
early years of the twenty-first century, and obviously reflects its
time, too. Characters are changed, and whole chunks of the book are
missing, but none the less the filmmakers obviously had a lot of love
for the original work, and manage to drop references to it throughout
the film. V’s soliloquy, which I quoted earlier, references many of the
titles of the installments of V from the comics, all of which began with the letter V. There were titles like Vaudeville, Vox Populi, Verdict,
and so on. Lewis Prothero, although he’s not identified as a doll
collector in the film, as he is in the book, still has a few shelves of
dolls in his bathroom. The little girl who says ‘Bollocks’ to the
cameras still gets to say it, just in a different context. And much
else.

On the other hand, the film is riddled with inaccuracies and plot
holes. For instance the Jan Van Eyck painting in the Shadow Gallery, The Arnolfini Marriage,
is much larger than it should be. We are told at one point that Bishop
Lillian, in his earlier days, was paid some ridiculously large sum of
money while working at Larkhill, without ever being told why this is
the case. Considering that they’re meant to be living in an oppressive
fascist regime, the people we see in their homes seem to be in no way
actually oppressed. Although a lot is made of the fact that Evey hasn’t
had butter in years, wide-screen TVs, tobacco, and beer seem to be in
plentiful supply. Numerous other instances could be pointed out, and no
doubt will be. However, as far as I’m concerned, they don’t really
matter. I loved the film the first time I saw it, and the second time,
when I was considerably less emotionally affected and could simply
enjoy it for what it was. It’s a well-made film, and an important film,
especially for the times we live in. It is even a reasonably good
adaptation of the original work, at least in some respects. Certainly
the film seems to gather oddness and controversy to itself as it goes
along. One of the people working on the film during the destruction of
Westminster, as part of a work placement scheme, was Ewan Blair, son of
the British prime minister. I even managed to walk into my local comic
shop just in time to hear a discussion on whether or not Larry
Wachowski’s alleged forthcoming gender realignment surgery would
adversely affect the film.

There is one last aspect of the film that I found fascinating. There
is a novelization of the movie, which has been written by Steve Moore.
Steve Moore is a very old friend of Alan Moore, and is said to be the
person who first taught Alan to write comics. He’s also Alan’s magical
partner, and in general the pair have worked together in various ways
for quite a number of years. I got the opportunity to get a few words
from Steve Moore about the writing of the novelization, which are
fascinating in themselves:

"Basically, I saw the job as a
professional one, where my task was to adapt the screenplay I’d been
given as well as I could under the circumstances; while at the same
time doing the best that I could (given that I had to follow the
screenplay) to make the novel worthy of the original graphic novel,
which I obviously admire. That meant that I couldn’t deviate from the
screenplay, and felt obliged to use the dialogue it contained, although
I was given freedom to provide additional material to flesh out the
background. For this extra material I tried to draw as much as possible
on the original graphic novel (though obviously I had to make sure
there was no clash between the two).

"After discussions with my editor at DC, I did make some changes to
the script: removing a historical prologue about the original Guy
Fawkes; retaining the "Violet Carson" rose name, rather than the
non-existent "Scarlet Carson" of the film; failing to mention any of
the specific dates given in the screenplay so that the actual
time-period of the story became more nebulous (and possibly closer to
the present day). Obviously, there were a number of other areas in the
screenplay where I had to smooth things over or make minor changes,
just to make the story work as a novel rather than a film."

Certainly Steve Moore’s novelization makes an intriguing third
version of the story of V, and I urge you to read it, just as soon as
you’ve been to the cinema to see the film a few times. It goes without
saying that you should already own a copy of the graphic novel. I’ll
leave you with perhaps the most succinct comment I heard on the film,
as a crowd of us gathered in the foyer of the cinema after the preview
screening here in Dublin. A friend of mine came up to me with a shine
in his eyes and said, "let’s go blow shit up!"




V for Vendetta - Andy & Larry Wachowski - Warner Bros. - theatrical releaseV for Vendetta - Steve Moore - Pocket Star - mass-market paperback
V for Vendetta - Alan Moore and David Lloyd - Vertigo - graphic novel









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Silent Wind



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PostSubject: Re: V for Vendetta - A Review   Tue 08 Dec 2009, 7:20 pm

What gets me about these systems coming down movies is that they usually never show a sequel or fourth part (matrix) where the system is destroyed and we get to choose/makeup the new reality or hyperreality without wars, military, local living (meaning local farming goods stay relatively local), no TAXES (of any sort), work when you want, basically no more systems of any sort, bartering instead of paper, no surveillence, no spying, no 3 letter agencies, etc... Ahh wishful utopias.

I guess they dont want to give the public too many ideas.
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PostSubject: Re: V for Vendetta - A Review   Wed 09 Dec 2009, 1:10 am

stilltrying wrote:
What gets me about these systems coming down movies is that they usually never show a sequel or fourth part (matrix) where the system is destroyed and we get to choose/makeup the new reality or hyperreality without wars, military, local living (meaning local farming goods stay relatively local), no TAXES (of any sort), work when you want, basically no more systems of any sort, bartering instead of paper, no surveillence, no spying, no 3 letter agencies, etc... Ahh wishful utopias.

I guess they dont want to give the public too many ideas.
Thinking about this, I don't think I ever HAVE seen a movie about a Utopian society--not one that lasted very long, anyway. I guess it wouldn't provide much in the way of *suspense* or *drama*, though, right? I guess to be interesting, a story has to have _some_obstacle, somewhere. Interesting...

Btw, V for Vendetta is probably, if not my favorite, one of my favorite movies of all time. I've got it on CD and replay it at least a couple of times a year.


SH
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PostSubject: Re: V for Vendetta - A Review   Thu 10 Dec 2009, 1:32 pm

Thanks for posting this scouts, I enjoyed the movie but I didn't hear the V speech properly in the theater so I didn't understand it until I read it here. I have been thinking about this quite a bit the past few days.

However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation now stands
vivified, and has vowed to vanquish those venal and virulent vermin
vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violent, vicious, and voracious
violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance.


That is the part most people do not want to acknowledge right now...the speech is beautiful.
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PostSubject: Re: V for Vendetta - A Review   Fri 11 Dec 2009, 6:41 pm

Kraig wrote:
Thanks for posting this scouts, I enjoyed the movie but I didn't hear the V speech properly in the theater so I didn't understand it until I read it here. I have been thinking about this quite a bit the past few days.

However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation now stands
vivified, and has vowed to vanquish those venal and virulent vermin
vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violent, vicious, and voracious
violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance.


That is the part most people do not want to acknowledge right now...the speech is beautiful.
V is a true hero, old-style. None of this gray stuff, black and white only, and he's white. He faced his reality and chose the path and stuck to it and accomplished it. This is how a person should act, imo. Notice how basically _gentle_ a man he is, also (with Evie) ... nothing brutal about him (unlike the Batman persona, who was more like a gorilla than a man!)

I admire the writing very much. I think there aren't many writers who understand how to create a hero. Probably only those who have some of the same stuff *in themselves.*
Also, it goes without saying that the story is super-thrilling, daring, imaginative,heartbreaking, etc. etc. :-) The "V-rhymes" are a strange and beautiful "touch" --to a perfectly imagined, dreamscape kind of movie. I guess you could say I kinda liked it... Wink


SH
P.S. To the last thought, yes.
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