V For Vendetta Film Analysis
“Remember, remember, the fifth of November; gunpowder, treason and plot. I know of no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.”
The movie ‘V for Vendetta’ was released in 30 March 2006 (Greece). The 106 minute is an adaptation of the graphic novel V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. It was directed by James McTeigue and produced by Joel Silver and the Wachowski brothers, who also wrote the screenplay. The film stars are Natalie Portman as Evey Hammond, Hugo Weaving as V, Stephen Rea as Inspector Finch, and John Hurt as Chancellor Sutler. It is rated with R for profanity and graphic violence.
V for Vendetta is an action-thriller film which is set in London, England in a future society. V is a freedom fighter wanting to create sociopolitical change but also at the same time pursuing his own violent personal vendetta. In the middle of all the chaos occurring in England, V stands up to the government and is considered a terrorist after expressing his personal hatred of the government through actions and words, for something they did to him long time ago. One night V rescues a young woman by the name of Evey Hammond and an unusual relationship is created between them resulting with Evey becoming V’s helper in bringing out the truth and bringing freedom and justice back to a society who have been brainwashed and filled with cruelty and corruption. V starts a revolution trying to make the people rise up against totalitarianism and oppression on the November the 5th, a day in which V says he and those who will follow him will stand up to the government.
In the film we can see a situation which is very close related to a realistic world such as torture cells, unfair punishments, prejudice against minorities which is something which has existed and still does. What is very captivating and interesting about this film is the fact that it has a very realistic approach to what has and is happening today. The movie shows the struggle between freedom and state which is a situation which has also occurred in the past. V for Vendetta uses imagery from a series of totalitarian icons, having a balance of both real and fictional. As we can see in the movie, the whole chaos and dictatorship is quite closely related to the situation in 1984 by George Orwell and the Nazi Germany in World War Two. For example, Adam Sutler, whose name may remind someone of Adolf Hitler, seems to have a personality similar to that of Adolf Hitler, in that he is somehow oblivious to what is going on around him, and resorts to yelling to get what he wants. Moreover, Valerie was sent to a detention facility for being a lesbian and then had medical experiments performed on her, similar to Nazi Germany’s treatment of gay men during the Holocaust and the Aryan-sounding Norsefire regime also uses red and black as their party colors, similar to the Nazi party. Finally, the similarities I saw in comparison to the book 1984 was the display of Adam Sutler in large videos screens similar to the one in the book and the use of mass surveillance, such as closed-circuit television, on its citizens. Interestingly enough, this represents the truth aswell, for Britain currently has the world’s highest concentration of CCTV and their media was also highly subservient to government propaganda during WWII, a characteristic of totalitarian regimes in general and seen in the movie.
The use of colors, music and the relation between the form and content was effective from my opinion as it managed to bring out the desired message. To begin with, I liked the fact that the film had a future-retro look and that it looked dark and mysterious at times. The heavy use of grey tones to give a dreary, stagnant feel to totalitarian London was effective as well as the fact that red and black are oftenly used throughout the whole movie which I felt had a revolutionary-related meaning to it. Firstly, the color red is the color of revolution and resistance, the color of blood and passion. Passion to pursue liberty. The color black quite similarly represents the color of reaction against all social norms and systems. A reaction to a system that suppressed its civilians with its totalitarian nature trying to control them. The areas in which these colors can be seen a lot in the movie is in the room where Chancellor Sutler addresses his cabinet, next to the screen it has red and black lines (part of the wall), and also when Chancellor Sutler makes a speech against the purposes of V and how the people shouldn’t be affected by him, he is wearing black and a red tie along with the rest of the party and there is red and black in the background. This image is essential in the movie because it depicts the Norsefire regime, and the colors contribute to the totalitarian imagery it’s supposed to give.
Moreover the music was excellent. I tend to have a great knowledge in composers and music pieces and I was able to recognize that both in the beginning and end, when times of climax, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture was played. I believe that the usage of Tchaikovsky’s overture was a very good idea because it was related to a revolution (French invasion into Russia) just like in the movie and it brought a feeling of revolution and patriotism with the sounds of canon fire and huge barrel drums. Apart from that, although the films composer makes up most of the tracks in the film, there were also songs used by other artist who sang songs related to freedom and revolution for example “Street Fighting Man” by The Rolling Stones. Also I very carefully noticed that in one of the last scenes before V leaves with the underground train full of explosions with a mission to explode the parliament, Inspector Finch’s alarm clock begins the morning of 4 November with the song “Long Black Train” by Richard Hawley, which contains the foreshadowing lyrics “Ride the long black train… take me home black train.”. I found this part excellent.
In addition the fact that we are never able to see V’s face raises our curiosity but it also makes us think that beneath this mask there is more than flesh… that beneath this mask there is an idea and I think that this was a very important message which the movie tried to bring out. The movie affects you and it puts you to think about many things which have occurred in the past and which are occurring today and I find this very important. I think the movie was really moving and makes you realize that you can overcome your fears and be strong and fight for your right of liberty. I liked the fact that we are not able to see V’s face but instead only a mask because as I said before, the film is trying to show V as the representation of an idea and not only as an individual with a sad past and full of anger for the government. I believe that the use of the mask and persona functions as both practical and symbolic elements of the story. He wears the mask to hide his physical scars, and in hiding his identity but V becomes not only a man with a revolutionary idea, he becomes the idea itself and this is what I loved the most and really affected me. It affected me because I got to see how far a person can go to accomplish a strong desire and belief.
My favorite part of the movie which showed a good relation between the form and content and it also had a strong meaning was when Evey is captured, imprisoned and tortured for days, which included having her head shaved. In prison she finds notes left by a previous prisoner named Valerie, who was imprisoned and persecuted for being a lesbian. Evey is told that she will be executed unless she reveals where V is and who he is. She declares she would rather die, and finds herself released and then discovers that her imprisonment was staged by V all along. V tells her that he wanted her to endure something similar to what he had endured at Larkhill detention center, hoping that Evey would understand that integrity and that the very last inch of us, is more important than our lives. Evey hates V for what he has done but she comes to realize that the experience allows life without fear and for her to return to a normal life in London. I believe that this scene is a very important scene and it makes the audience think about how situations where during totalitarian times and taking it even further, that we can conquer our fears.
Finally no one will undoubtedly walk away disappointed from this movie. The movie follows a clear story with strong themes which meets the expectations of the audience at the end. You leave with a message and idea to remember, that V was all those people oppressed by the dictatorship and who used terrorist tactics to fight against his totalitarian society. V for Vendetta is provoking but at the same time keeps you on the edge of your seat waiting for what would happen next. It has some good twists and an even better plot that cause you to look at society, government, authority, freedoms, and yourself at the same time. The movie won’t appeal to everyone, it’s not all action and there isn’t any hardcore action but if you like a movie that makes you think and is worth the price of a ticket this one is definitely it.