After avoiding it for a year, I finally saw V for Vendetta. I have avoided it because it is my favourite graphic novel of all time, the one thing in the universe that can make me cry every time I read it. And the movie…well, you know what happens with movies made from books. They are scraped clean of any subtlety and charm and slammed on a plate with a huge portion of fries and gravy and a fucking enormous fizzy drink with two straws in it.
And so it had become with this movie too. You can feel there is a movie in there somewhere trying to get out, and a lot of it is quite well done. And the climactic scene (for me) where Evey becomes free from her fear and stands in the rain (“I feel like…an angel”), is close to perfect.
However they have removed all the edges (and drugs) along with all the anarchy. The whole point of the character V was that he set out to cause chaos, from which a new society would emerge. He is not a hero, he is not out to save people or rescue kittens or restore fucking democracy – he is out to BLOW STUFF UP and kill people. End of story.
They call him a terrorist all the way through the movie, and manage to avoid the fact that he is actually an anarchist. That’s interesting enough (anarchy=bad, according to our enlightened modern media) but the label of terrorist has become even more charged in these jittery times. So the guy is a terrorist, but we cheer him on anyway? Why is that – he is obviously out to kill people. Yes, but these are BAD people. Aha, and who decides who the bad people are? Why the media does…or maybe it’s the government…or wait, maybe it’s the guys down the pub…
So a terrorist that kills bad people is a freedom fighter and not a terrorist, as long as the definition of “bad” is the same definition as held by the state and the media. But wait – not EVERY state, of course, just the good states, the friendly ones who spread their economies wide like velvet legs. Not the BAD states, like the one in the movie…even if they SAY that they are good, which of course they will…
Confused yet? Because I am. There is a lot of confusion in movies in general about knowing which side is “good” and should therefore be cheered on, and which is “bad” and should be killed. Usually the good ones are just better looking, and appear earlier on, or have American accents. And sometimes the bad ones are just in the wrong place at the wrong time, like in Star Wars, when a whole Death Star full of programmers, technicians, cooks and toilet cleaners are exterminated by the “freedom fighters” for a diffuse and fluffy political goal. And then, just to make sure the message got across, they do it AGAIN two movies later, this time taking out a few thousand Polish builders just to make a point (oh yes, and to free everybody).
So I guess it’s like this: the terrorists are whoever we say they are, and the anarchists…well, we don’t need them at all (expect for Edward Norton in Fight Club, who likes ripping off his shirt and blowing up buildings, but he’s a nice guy really).