Director: James McTeigue
Stars: Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman, John Hurt
Released: 17th March 2006 (UK)
Based on the graphic novels by Alan Moore, ‘V for Vendetta’ paints a grim portrait of a dystopian future where citizens are rigorously controlled by their totalitarian government, at the head of which is the High Chancellor Adam Sutler (John Hurt). The film follows the actions of a shadowy freedom fighter known only as the letter ‘V’ (Hugo Weaving) and his companion Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) as he attempts to inspire rebellion and revolution in the seemingly mindless and apathetic inhabitants of England, reminding them that ‘people shouldn’t be afraid of their government, government should be afraid of their people’, mainly through the power of words, creative symbolism and, well, killing people in cool ways.
Whilst the graphic novels were written in the 80’s and could be seen as a thinly veiled allegory of life under Thatcher’s rule, the film still strikes relevant chords within contemporary society, with the portrayed treatment of minorities, use of media influence and the question of political philosophy- whether the perceived threat of war or disease justifies a diminution of civil liberties. This film serves as a warning of what could happen if a government takes the control given to them by the people too far.
As the title suggests, V’s seemingly honest intentions to restore power to the people are marred by his ultimately all-consuming desire for revenge. The use of a terrorist as a hero and his moral ambiguity which taints his political idealism , leaves it opens to the audiences interpretation to ponder over whether one man’s terrorist really is another’s freedom fighter.
Dietrich, (Stephen Fry) is a brilliant addition to the film as he plays the part of an inspired citizen hopeful for a better future. His character draws the contrast between those who are passionate about freedom and justice and those who are apathetic and easily oppressed.
Natalie Portman plays the role of companion well and must be commended for having the balls to accept the part, given what the script requires of her. As she becomes more tangled in V’s web, despite her initial misgivings, she learns just how insatiable the hunger of revenge can be and the affect it can have on people and relationships. Admittedly, her attempt at an English accent does falter occasionally, but ultimately she fulfils her role.
However, the film is truly made by the mysterious main character V. Quite simply, the man has style. It may be his highly alliterative and well delivered introductory speech, his fairly flawless fighting skills or maybe it’s just the all black suit and cool mask, who knows? What’s important is that you can’t help but like him and be completely won over by his unique character. From start to finish, he draws you in to the film.
If I had to find fault with the film, it’s that the graphic novels allude more to the past of V than the film does, thus allowing the reader to engage with the character. Yet, for some, this may simply add to his mysteriousism in the film, whilst it may also leave others dissatisfied by the lack of insight or information given about the main characters past. ‘V for Vendetta’ is a political thriller interspersed with action and with unexpected plot twists, an interesting script, decent cast list and an inspiring message, this film is definitely well worth a watch.
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