The International Writers Magazine: Movie
'V is a deep,
superbly executed film...' Opens March 17th
Dir: James McTeigue
Screenplay and Produced by: Andy & Larry Wachowski
(based upon Alan Moore's graphic novel and illustrated
by David Lloyd)
Stars Natalie Portman, John Hurt, Hugo Weaving,
Stephen Fry more...
Review by Roxy Williams and Clare Sager
streets of London are ruled by Fingermen and there are menacing
black megaphones on every corner. Films, books, TV shows, even
music are on a blacklist - banned from public broadcast. Major
artworks are hidden by the government and possessing a copy of
the Koran is enough to get you arrested.
is the Orwellian dystopia in which we find Evey (Natalie Portman
on exceptional form) and the unlikely heroic anti-hero, V (Hugo
Weaving sporting a fetching Guy Fawkes mask). V, indeed, stands
for vendetta (and has a penchant for words beginning with v and
a taste for the theatrical), and seeks vengeance against those who
incarcerated and experimented upon him. The government has total
power, they dictate news as well as lives, and this is what V has
taken it upon himself to stand against.
Evey is initially
swept along in V's wake, involved too deeply in something she doesn't
fully understand. The government, headed by a chilling High Chancellor
(John Hurt), decides how people act and think, and Evey is no exception.
Despite what happened to her family, she is still naive about the government's
practices as well as general life and death. Her shock at V's early
actions (such as assassinations) are somewhat unbelievable considering
her own past. Equally, this could be a comment on the power of the government,
showing the extent to which they control the very thoughts in the minds
of their citizens.
This film is based upon the graphic novel written by Alan Moore and
illustrated by David Lloyd. After the unmitigated disaster that was
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (altered almost beyond recognition
to please an American market), Moore chose to have his name excluded
from all film adaptations of his work and has even given all royalties
to the adapted novels' illustrators.
need not have feared for V, since this character-driven speeding
tube-train of a film is quite simply magnificent. According to one
fan of the graphic novel and comic shop owner, the adaptation is
"bloody brilliant". Even if you don't like comic books
and shudder at the mention of superhero flicks, fear not: V is a
deep, superbly executed film that draws terror not only from the
actions of a terrorist, but from the very feasibility of the corrupt,
totalitarian government he fights against.
Visually, the film
is stunning. The atmosphere conjured by underground vaults filled with
'illegal' cultural artefacts and streets haunted by looming shadows
is engulfing, the soundtrack is subtle except for moments of sheer brilliance
when V cues Tchaikovskys 1812 Overture to be played as he blows
up a major London landmark in a profusion of fireworks. The chemistry
between Weaving and Portman is intense - surprising considering he spends
the entire film behind a mask. Weaving's performance is impressive,
using his voice and body (and a flowery apron!) to convey a complex
character and his emotions. However, among the strong cast (including
Stephen Fry playing Deitrich, a character practically written for him)
it is Portman who steals the film. Although Evey at first seems like
an underdeveloped character, Portman makes her believeable and extends
her intense performance as the character comes to life. Evey draws us
in - she is our connection with V; as she gets to know him and grows
to like him, so too do we.
Yes, through this film we grow to like a murderer. We root for the freedom
fighter. V blows things up and slices and dices with his array of knives,
but he is a charming man as well as a terrorist. He is working for the
greater good, encouraging the people of England to rise up against their
cruel government, pointing out that, in the words of Edmund Burke, all
that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
The beauty of the film is that we are led to question our perceptions.
violence be justified in the name of an ideal?
Who is the person behind the terrorist mask prescribed by the press?
Where is the integrity in this corrupt world?
Can we trust what we read in newspapers?
Can we trust our government - the very people we elect to represent
us and shape our country?
Are there any coincidences?
This is not a film
to watch before you go to bed - it will keep you awake at night with
troublesome questions and nagging doubts. Scenes of Evey's torture (in
an orange shift - no coincidence, surely?) are disturbing in their realism,
but also in that they lead you to think of Guantanamo bay. Those men
in orange jumpsuits are brothers, sons, fathers, friends. Perhaps they
are being questioned and physically tortured, perhaps not, but through
the humanity of Evey, we see that even just depriving a person of light
and dignity, via the hoods they are forced to wear, is torture in itself.
This is the State of Terrorism: the place where fear reigns.
These questions are all part of the appeal of V For Vendetta.
It refuses to play Hollywood's black and white, good and evil game.
V is not a superhero or a villain: just as we empathise with him and
start to throw our fists in the air and shout 'right on!' we get a sharp
reality check with a scene of bloody violence and corpses. The film
is refreshing and yet represents terrifying oppression.
As V says: people should not be afraid of their governments; governments
should be afraid of their people. Perhaps El Presidente Bush should
watch this film. You definitely should.
© Clare Sager and Gemma Roxy Williams March 15 2006
Clare and Gemma are Creative Writing Majors at the Univesity of Portmsouth
More Film Reviews
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.