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The International Writers Magazine: DVD

V for Vendetta
Dir James McTeigue
Starring Natalie Portman
Robert Hillum

When V for Vendetta was originally written,over two and a half decades ago, the political power was very different to the ones in power now, but being politics thoses differences, eventually become the same. The graphic novel is as current and vital now, as it was 26 years ago, and to ensure we never do forget, the movie adaptation directed by James McTeigue and written by the infamous Wachowski Bros. has impacted on our screens with a post 9/11 terrorist anti-hero with a nasty streak for revenge.
If you can’t be bothered to read the graphic novel (and at a whopping 286 pages long you have no excuse not to) then you must watch this film. Updated for our current social climate, though maybe loosing some of the central ideas, it provides a daunting vision of things to come. I suggest you do both.

V for Vendetta is one of the most powerful films with such a scaving commentary of our past, and current state of affairs, to be released and appreciated by a mass audience. Cleverly disguised as just another superhero action romp, when you sit and watch the film you reap so much more than the skin deep glossy ideals of most superhero movies to date.

For those who don’t know (hang your heads in shame) V for Vendetta is the story of a post apocalyptic Earth, disfigured by the fangs of nuclear war and thrown into the darkness of the fallout. England is weak and ignorant of where to place its faith, and is, until we see the emergence of Norsefire, a proto fascist state with the power to put England back on track. All it will cost is the obedience and silent subjugation of the masses. The undesirables are taken away and the streets put under the control of this totalitarian power.
Enter a heroin. A young orphan girl, already stung by the establishment for the loss of her parents is discovered breaking curfew. Found by the ‘Fingermen’, all powerful police, she is attacked with sinister intentions. Enter a hero. A mysterious man, glad in black and wearing a ‘Fawksian’ mask defends the weak and oppressed. He saves the girl and begins to lay waste to the symbols of oppression throughout London, with his eye sockets fixed upon parliament.
But that’s not the good bit.
The tiny interweaving stories, full of challenging ideas and beliefs pushes the main story to become secondary to the development of the central protagonists relationship and learning about the past of V. With various insights into his ideals and the moral high ground on which he stands, but still seeing the horrifically flawed human beneath the mask, V becomes one of the most likable anti-heroes, and I can easily understand why the character is easy to relate to.

Someone who knows there is a problem, but actively does something to change it. Another of the interweaving stories is of the police chief sent to find V, and the path of self realisation and understanding he travels down thickens the plot to near bursting.

Though the film moves without much physical incident for almost an hour of the film, every minute is filled with character and plot development that makes the final conclusion satisfying and just.

A post 9/11 terrorist as the central protagonist hero seems preposterous, but even more absurd is the fact that we learn to care for the character. Unlike 1988 there are no longer ‘discussions of concentration camps for AIDS victims’, or the ‘eradication of homosexuality’ of the to do list of government. However, increasingly we are becoming a police state and ever closer to the extrapolated portrayal in both film and book.

© Robert Hillum November 2007

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