The first thing to know about this film before giving it any kind of assessment is the fact that it was based on a graphic novel by the English writer Alan Moore. Simply put, from the comics.
The work includes 10 episodes about a revolutionary named V who rebelled against the fascist party in a dystopian Great Britain at the end of the 20th century (while the events in the film take place in the future, in the 2020-2030s). In the universe of this comic book, a significant part of humanity was destroyed due to nuclear war, the United Kingdom became impoverished, and the ruling party introduced totalitarian control over society and killed everyone in concentration camps who did not agree with its regime.
Alan Moore is sometimes called one of the most talented British writers and even the most gifted comic book creator. It was Alan Moore who wrote one of the darkest, most controversial and profound DC comics – “Guardians”, which was not very well filmed in 2009. He also took part in the development of Batman and Superman. Another famous work of the writer is the comic strip “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, which was also used for the film of the same name. And by the way, the character of Keanu Reeves from the movie “Constantine” was also created by Alan Moore (more precisely, the character of the comic book series “Messenger of Hell”, according to which he was filmed).
There are also a couple of classic, textual creations in the list of his works. Still, Moore is primarily the author of comics (graphic novels). And comics have special, rather characteristic stylistic differences, which inevitably find their reflection in the films based on them. So it happened with the film “V for Vendetta”. If you look at it just like a classic dystopia, then many moments can be considered overly grotesque, feigned and pretentious.
But if you remember that the picture was created from a comic strip, then everything will immediately fall into place, and the feeling of pretentiousness and excessive theatricality will disappear. Such films, in principle, should be bright, somewhat straightforward, somewhat not entirely realistic, but at the same time extremely illustrative and poignant. And this incomparable spirit of comics, raising serious questions and revealing deep themes, the creators of the picture conveyed 100%.
What was so special about Guy Fawkes?
It’s fair to say that the Guy Fawkes mask may have become so famous and popular these days in part due to the success of V for Vendetta. Guy Fawkes himself lived in London at the beginning of the seventeenth century and participated in the so-called “Gunpowder Plot”, which involved the assassination of the king. He was neither the organizer of this conspiracy, nor the coordinator of the preparation of the assassination attempt, nor even its initiator – he simply had to light the fuse. This wick led into a room located under the House of Lords, which the participants in the conspiracy filled with gunpowder. They intended to set off an explosion at the moment when the king would deliver his speech to the throne.
Alas, Fox was detained, during the torture he betrayed his accomplices, and then was executed. However, if the other participants in the failed assassination attempt were executed with extreme cruelty, then Guy Fawkes managed to jump off the scaffold and break his neck, dying almost instantly and avoiding a more difficult fate.
November 5, the day of the arrest of the famous revolutionary, it was decided to make the National Day of Salvation. In modern conditions, this holiday has transformed into the “Night of Guy Fawkes”, during which the British kindle bonfires, launch firecrackers and fireworks, and also burn an effigy of the hero of the occasion. By the way, the word guy was formed on behalf of Fox, which today is used to refer to young people.
What should be the symbol of the fight against the system?
So, Guy Fawkes is a rather ambiguous person. He seems to be a revolutionary, but not that a hero. And this is one of the reasons for criticism of both himself and the film “V for Vendetta” in particular.
However, it is hard not to notice that the Guy Fawkes mask itself in this picture has no meaning. Just as some of the turns of the plot in it are too artistic for a more spectacular embodiment of the main idea, so this mask here is just an image that personifies the struggle against the system. It has no value in itself and takes on a certain meaning only in a specific context. It could just as well be a panda mask or an alien mask, or just a black bag pulled over your head with slits for the eyes.
The main thing is that at first only V wore it, and by the end of the story everyone decided on it. That the thirst for freedom, to which everyone has the right from birth, has spread like a virus and made thousands of people believe in themselves and in their strengths. The mask here is just an indicator that allows us to see how many downtrodden, scared, obedient Britons have straightened their shoulders and finally stopped being afraid.
Love is like broken glass
Despite the large number of rather important minor characters, the main attention in this film is always focused on two characters: V and Eevee. Their special relationship develops, grows and intensifies in parallel with the sprouting of disagreement sprouting in a broken people, gradually turning into open confrontation. In one of the closing scenes, Evie says that V is her father and her mother, her friend and brother, herself and all the people in general. She pays tribute to the incredibly important role that this person played in the fate of the whole country.
But still, in her own destiny, V occupied and will always occupy a separate place. Evie will never see the face of her hero (according to the character’s background, he was badly burned during an explosion in a concentration camp), she will kiss him only once (and then through a mask), and she will certainly never have sex with him. They will not live happily ever after, and they will not have children. All that will be between them is pain shared between them and a common belief in the unchallenged right to freedom. By the way, in the comic after V died, Evie took on his identity.
A romantic view of terrorism
The film has many differences from the graphic novel of the same name. And the personality of V, more precisely, his character, can be called one of the key differences. In the film project, although he turned out to be an anarchist terrorist, he was still a rather romantic and relatively adequate person, who did not make unnecessary sacrifices unnecessarily. In the comic, V was presented as a much more ruthless character, ready, in fact, to go to any lengths to achieve his goal.
Another important point: in the original story, Evie was not in love with her savior, tormentor and mentor. She was also grateful to him for everything he did for her and for other people, she understood that all this was necessary, but she did not feel any romantic feelings for him. V, on the other hand, managed to fall in love with the girl, which looked even more impressive given his more complex and tough character.
But no matter what changes and assumptions this graphic novel was filmed, the film nevertheless conveyed the main idea, idea and energy of the work. And if you love films that encourage you to be yourself and not be afraid to go against public opinion, then “V for Vendetta” is probably in your collection of selected film projects.