The Verge is a place where you can think about the future. Films too. In yesterday’s future, we look at a film about the future again and look at the things it tells us about today, tomorrow and yesterday.
The film: V for Vendetta (2006) by James McTeigue
The future: in the V for VendettaA lot went wrong very quickly and there doesn’t seem to be much to do. The film takes place in 2020 and London is now under the authoritarian rule of the fascist high chancellor Sutler (John Hurt), the leader of the extremely Nazi-looking Norsefire party.
The parallels to the real 2020 are alarming: the “St. Mary̵
In this world we meet Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman), a humble member of the British Television Network. One night she is sexually assaulted by the secret police and then rescued by V (Hugo Weaving), a superhuman terrorist wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. Like Guy Fawkes, V has a plan to blow up Parliament and murder several government officials responsible for the takeover of Norsefire and, it turns out, his own creation. The film ends before we find out if it is successful, but not before the citizens of London are inspired to put on his mask and take to the streets too.
The past: V for VendettaAlthough it’s not a work like the comic by Alan Moore and David Lloyd that it is based on, it is a film about a terrorist. In March 2006, this felt radical for a blockbuster film that the Wachowskis wrote as their first major project after matrix Trilogy. The reviewers were fascinated by it.
“The smartest aspect of the film is the way he turns a terrorist into a crusader hero while remaining politically correct.” Guardian Film critic Philip French wrote in his review. “What doesn’t do it is create a credible future or avoid pomposity.”
“With all rights, this should be the worst time you can imagine V For Vendetta, a film with – there really is no polite word for it – a terrorist hero who tends to say things like “violence can be used forever” and “sometimes the blasting of a building can change the world”. “begins Keith Phipps’ review for The AV Club. “So why? V For Vendetta play as such a crowd puller?
Just five years after September 11th and just as many years after the U.S. war on terror, a blockbuster film that honored a terrorist felt radical in a way that was arrested almost immediately. The film softens this very obvious edge with obvious allusions 1984It feels as homage to George Orwell as it does to Lloyd and Moore.
Alan Moore, the author of the comic on which the film is based, declined to publish his name in the film or on materials that promote it. (Moore has made it clear that he has objections to this any Adaptation of his work on principle, regardless of quality.) Purists would protest that the film’s very specific reaction of the source material to Thatcherite England to a metaphor of America’s Bush era (in a story in which America is specifically marginalized) or reduced the way The film made V a dashing hero rather than an extremist who died in the wool. But time had an opportunity to effectively put all of these points up for discussion. The film now looks very different.
The gift: Looking back, both the great strength and weakness of V for Vendetta lies in its lack of specificity. Its Orwellian aesthetic gives it a kind of timeless veneer, and its arguments about fascism and the creeping death of freedom are old ones that become painfully relevant when there is a new attempt to undermine democracy by those in power.
The film’s most consistent symbol is a mask that was adopted by the hacktivist group Anonymous in the early 2010s as a sign of real protest when Occupy Wall Street was the best-known activist movement in the United States. Unfortunately, a grinning Guy Fawkes mask should denote anonymous solidarity that glosses over something important about institutional oppression: it is not used equally.
In 2020, attacks on democracy are bold and blunt, and we are painfully well aware that subtlety is not a sign of the reach of authoritarianism. Indeed, as critic Scott Meslow wrote during 2018 V for Vendetta has more bite than when released, you could say that it doesn’t go far enough.
“There is a universe in which a single shot of an innocent little girl could inspire an entire society to fight a militaristic police force,” writes Meslow. “It imagines the resistance against an anti-democratic political movement, which partly arises from powerful but principled members of this political movement. A modern adjustment could dismiss all these points of action as too optimistic. “
V for Vendetta it’s not particularly about details – creeping concessions to fascists are told in a bleak cascade, and the resistance is triggered by a single dramatic act. The film’s universe is small; The only perspective outside of Evey is that of Finch (Stephen Rea), a Scotland Yard inspector who is tracking V and discovers that the government caused the crisis that led to her takeover. Through Finch, we put everything together and in the best note of the film, everything is portrayed in a dramatic montage: corruption, domination and revolution that coexist, while events that the film depicts are interrupted with scenes that take place throughout the film The last 30 minutes of the film.
It’s very touching, but it glosses over how much job It is about defending democracy – how much the people you need to stand next to you in protest prefer the rule of fascism as long as fascists join them, as institutions are built not for democracy but for normalityand how the people who run it always prefer the latter to the former.