You’ll never know how much fun it is to write stuff like that.
Remember, remember, the fifth of November
The gunpowder treason and plot.
I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
And so, it begins. I began reading the series of comics (as they were called back then, guess they are properly “graphic novels” now) by Alan Moore and David Lloyd about 15 years ago. They were given to me by a friend who understood my anarchist leanings. The story, as written, is immense and, I admit, not truly represented in the movie. I loved the story. Many (many) people I know who like the story heartily dislike the movie. I love the movie.
I got it in my hot little hands yesterday and watched it in the wee small hours, a good time for being a revolutionary. 🙂 If you know about the written story, the movie is weak. If you don’t, the movie may shock you. A lot of the stuff I’ve read about on the ‘net since its release has been about the facing off of fascism and democracy (not part of the written version, btw which is about anarchy). But the thing that seems completely overlooked that fascinates me to no end is the moral ambiguity of V.
He’s a character that doesn’t quite touch on anti-hero, yet he’s not entirely the shining hero either. You know he believes in something and it’s not at all a bad idea. He wants to give the land back to the people who live in it, free them from their fear. But how? He isn’t just some bourgois fellow sitting around with a fetish for destroying stuff; he was created. He is what the system made him. He was made with violence, destroyed by it, born in it, but through the hate he said consumed him, he found something else. Purpose.
He commits to it. No less than 100%. And for 20 years he plans the downfall of the government. He steals things but so far we’re not really getting the moral ambiguity. Then he begins his symphonic work of destruction by grandly blowing the Old Bailey to bits and he begins to kill. He doesn’t stop until everyone who has earned his vengeance is dead.
Are his methods right? He resorts to terrorist tactics and has no compunction to kill whoever is in his way. We side with him because he is fighting for something we believe in – democracy – but we can hardly agree with all his actions. However, the most interesting thing is the torture of Evey. Is this ever a right thing to do? Why does he do it? Is it only because that’s how V was made, erasing whoever he might have been before? He does it to free her from her fear to push her to a place where she’s not afraid to die, but how can it be right to torture her to take her there? Would she ever have gotten there without the torture?
Does he do it so that she will be like him? He’s fallen in love with her. Somewhere inside of him, does he do it to make her understand him?
Love and pain. The relationship is hurtfully obvious in this film because she comes to love him (at least the movie indicates that she is starting to care for him). Yet, she’ll never be fully human again. He’s taken her past the limits of what we can normally endure, into a realm of all possibilities. He gives her Valerie as he was given Valerie and that shapes her purpose as it shaped his. Yet, his treatment was much harsher and the paths his mind walks are far more twisted.
There is a lot to think about in this film. That’s more than I can say for 90% of the films I see. The portrayals are also brilliant. Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving and John Hurt are wonderful in this. Those of you know me, know that the V character resonates very powerfully. Whatever the reason, I can follow his logic, feel his anger, understand his reasoning. The flawed hero, the anti-hero is always so much more interesting than the perfect one.
Before I go away, I simply have to copy this here. I know some of you think it’s very stupid and hokey, but as a writer I would relish it. As an actor it must have been a lot of fun to say as well. Weaving does a fantastic job bringing these words to life:
Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is it vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished, as the once vital voice of the verisimilitude now venerates what they once vilified. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose vis-à-vis an introduction, and so it is my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.
The movie leaves you wanting to shake people, especially now, and wanting to yell at them to use their own minds and wake up! So wherever you are, use your own mind today, let your instinct tell you what is right and fair – don’t be told by the news, stand on your feet, reach for the sky and glory in what you are. Power to the people.