The Verge is a place where you can see the future. So are the movies. In yesterday’s future, we review a film about the future and look at the things it tells us about today, tomorrow, and yesterday.
The film: V for Vendetta (2006) with director James McTag
The future: in V for Vendetta, very confused very quickly and does not seem to have much for it. The film is set in 2020, and London is already under the authoritarian rule of the fascist Supreme Chancellor Sutler (John Hurt), leader of the exclusively Nazi party Norsefire.
The parallels with the real 2020 are alarming: “St. The Mary Virus unleashed a pandemic around the world, crippling the United States (which isn̵
This is the world in which we meet Evie Hammond (Natalie Portman), an unshakable employee of the British television network. One night she was threatened with sexual assault by the secret police and was later rescued by V (Hugo Weaving), a superhuman terrorist in the guise of Guy Fawkes. Like Guy Fawkes, V has a plan to blow up Parliament and kill several members of the government responsible for the takeover of Norsefire and, as revealed, his own creation. The film ends before we know if it is a success, but not before the citizens of London are inspired to put on their masks and take to the streets.
The past: V for Vendetta, though not as bad a work as the Alan Moore and David Lloyd comic book on which it is based, is a film that is not analogous to a terrorist. In March 2006, this felt radical for a blockbuster film that was written by Wachowskis as their first major project since matrix trilogy. Reviewers were fascinated by this.
“The smartest aspect of the film is the way he turns the terrorist into a crusader while remaining politically correct.” guard film critic Philippe French wrote in his review. “What fails is to create a secure future or to avoid pomp.”
“By all accounts, this should be the worst time to present V for Vendetta, a film with – there’s really no kind word about it – a terrorist character who tends to say things like “Violence can be used for good” and “Sometimes blowing up a building can change the world.” The most AV Club, “So why V for Vendetta do you play like such a crowd-pleas?
Just five years removed since 9/11 and the same number of years in the war on terror in the United States, the blockbuster film valorizing the terrorist felt radical in a way that was arrested almost immediately. The film softens this very obvious edge with obvious hints of 1984, making him feel as much reverence for George Orwell as he did for Lloyd and Moore.
Alan Moore, the writer of the comic book on which the film is based, refused to appear his name in the film or in any materials promoting it. (Moore made it clear that he was opposed whoever it is adapting his work out of principle, regardless of quality.) Purists would object to the film reducing the very specific response to the source of Thatcherite England’s material to a metaphor for Bush’s America (in a story where America is concretized aside) or the way the film turned V in a scarier hero than in an extremist who died in a wave. But time had a way to make all these points effective. Now the film is much different.
The present: In retrospect, both the great strength and the weakness of V for Vendetta is in its lack of specificity. His Orwellian aesthetics give him the appearance of an eternal veneer, and his arguments for fascism and the creeping death of freedom are old, which become painfully relevant when there is a new attempt to undermine democracy by the authorities.
The film’s most enduring symbol is a mask, one that was adopted in real-world protest by the hacking group Anonymous in early 2010, when Occupy Wall Street was the most widely known activist movement in the United States. Unfortunately, Guy Fawkes’s grinning mask was intended to denote anonymous solidarity proclaimed over something vital to institutional oppression: it is not applied equally.
In 2020, attacks on democracy are brazen and dull, and we know painfully that subtlety is not a hallmark of the scope of authoritarianism. In fact, as critic Scott Meslow wrote in 2018, while V for Vendetta there are more bites than when launching, now you can say it doesn’t go far enough.
“She imagines a universe in which a single death in the murder of an innocent girl can inspire the whole society to stand up to the militaristic police,” Meslow wrote. “He imagines resistance against the anti-democratic political movement, which is partly raised by powerful but principled members of this political movement. A modern adaptation may dismiss all these plot points as too optimistic. “
V for Vendetta he doesn’t pay much attention to detail – the creeping concessions of the fascists are retold in a gloomy cascade, and the resistance is provoked by a single dramatic act. The universe of the film is small; the only prospect outside of Evey is that of Finch (Stephen Rea), a Scotland Yard inspector who is on V’s trail and discovers that the government has created the crisis that led to its capture. Through Finch we present it together and in the best touch of the film everything is depicted in a dramatic montage: corruption, domination and revolution, existing side by side as events depicted in the film are interspersed with scenes to take place in Final 30 minutes
This is very influential, but it belittles how much work this is to defend democracy – how many people who have to stand by you in protest actually prefer the rule of fascism, as long as the fascists comply with them, how the institutions are not built for democracy but for normalityand how the people who run them will always choose the latter over the former.