V for Vendetta (and “Awesome”)

March 22nd, 2006 § 0 comments

On Monday evening I saw “V for Vendetta”, the new Wachowski Brothers film based on the graphic novel of the samemask name. I’ve never read the original comic-strip on which the screenplay is based, so my opinions of the film are based only on what I saw, and not any relationship of the movie to the original book.

That said, the movie is extremely well-done, with only a few minor problems:

The Not-So-Good:

* Natalie Portman’s lackluster acting and mediocre rendition of the accent, which in more than a couple of scenes, she seems to forget about altogether.

* A few poor choices of lines, usually completely unrelated to the central plot, and overly melodramatic.

The Good:

* Visually stunning. The exploding-Houses-of-Parliament sequence is jaw-dropping.

* Excellent set design, and brilliant attention to detail in the film. The designers do a fine job of articulating what a dystopian near-future London might look like, and throughout the dystopia, manage to make everything still seem London-esque, right down to the choice of typeface and signage.

* A fine storyline. I’ll talk about this some more below:

Though the original graphic novel is supposed to take place in 1997, inspired in part by the rise of conservativism in the 1980s, the plot seems to have been tweaked a bit to resonate with a contemporary American audience. September 11th isn’t mentioned explicitly, though there is a fast mention of Iraq. If you leave the theater and don’t feel the slightest connection with contemporary world events and American politics, you were asleep. I think it’s a generally good sign that conservative critics of Vendetta are slamming the film for “glorifying terrorism”; it means that at least someone was paying attention to the fact that the film is a political allegory. The critics do of course miss that the main characters actions are intentionally morally ambiguous, and V’s role is certainly not a Christ-figure.

Similarly, I think it’s a good thing that liberal critics are saying that the film is an indictment of the Bush Administration. Though this isn’t really true, either. If any indictment, or warning, is being issued by Vendetta, it’s against the audience, cautioning us to be wary of trading freedom for security willingly. The core philosophy seems more like Edward Abbey than modern Democrat. Perhaps the seminal line of the film is “People should not be afraid of the government…government should be afraid of the people.” Does this parallel our contemporary political situation? It’s highly possible, indeed probable, that the Wachowski Brothers intended in their screenplay adaptation to think so. However, I think the true intention was to induce the broader thoughts of “freedom versus security” and so on in the audience.

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