Verge is a place where you can consider the future. So are the movies. In Yesterday’s Future, we review a film about the future and consider the things it tells us today, tomorrow, and yesterday.
movie: V for Vendetta (2006) directed by James McTeigue
The future: in V for Vendetta, many have gone bad very quickly, and there does not seem to be much to do about it. The film is set in 2020, and London is now under the authoritarian rule of the fascist Supreme Chancellor Sutler (John Hurt), the leader of the extremely Nazi party, Norsefire.
The parallels with the real world 2020 are alarming: “St. The “Mary virus”; has blown up a pandemic in the world, destroying the United States (which is not actually included in the London film plot) and sending it on a path to economic destruction and civil war. The Norsefire party, which has sparked a wave of neoconservative support, blocks gay citizens, anyone who practices a religion other than the state-sanctioned church, and is backed by state-run media. Surveillance is almost random, with government vans regularly taking to the streets to listen to citizens.
This is the world in which we meet Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman), an impatient employee of the British Television Network. One night, she is threatened with sexual assault by the secret police and then rescued by V (Hugo Weaving), a superhuman terrorist in a Guy Fawkes mask. Like Guy Fawkes, V has a plan to blow up Parliament and assassinate some members of the government responsible for taking Norsefire and, it turns out, its creation. The film ends before we find out if he is successful, but not before the citizens of London are inspired to donate his mask as well and take to the streets.
The past: V for Vendetta, though not like saying a work like the comic by Alan Moore and David Lloyd on which it is based, is a film that has no idea about a terrorist. In March 2006, this felt radical for a blockbuster film written by Wachowskis as their first major project after matrix trilogy. Reviewers were fascinated by this.
“The smartest aspect of the film is the way it turns a terrorist into a crusading hero while remaining politically correct,” guardian film critic Philip French wrote in his review. “What you do not manage is to create a credible future or avoid pomp.”
“By all accounts, this should be the worst time imaginable to be released V For Vendetta, a movie with – there really are no polite words for it – a terrorist hero keen to say things like “Violence can be used for good”, and “Sometimes blowing up a building can change the world.” “begins the review of Keith Phipps for AV Club. “So why V For Vendetta play as such a crowd-pleasing?
Just five years away from 9/11, and just as many years into the U.S. War on Terror, a blockbuster film that portrayed a terrorist felt radical in a way that almost immediately arrested him. The film softens this very clear edge with obvious allusions to 1984, making him feel as much homage to George Orwell as it is to Lloyd and Moore.
Alan Moore, the writer of the comic book on which the film is based, declined to have his name appear in the film or in any material promoting it. (Moore has made it quite clear that he opposes any adaptation of his work out of principle, regardless of quality.) Purists would oppose the film by reducing the very specific response of Thatcherite England source material to a Bush-era America metaphor (in a history where America is specifically shunned) or the way the movie turned V into more of a dizzying hero than a dead extremist in fur. But time had a way of giving all these points effectively by being deceived. The film appears much different now.
Present: In retrospect, both the great strengths and weaknesses of V for Vendetta is in the absence of its specificity. Its Orwellian aesthetic gives it a kind of timeless veneer, and its arguments for fascism and the strange death of freedom are old made with significant pain whenever there is a new attempt to undermine democracy by those in power. .
The film’s most enduring symbol is a mask, one that was adopted as a sign of protest in the real world by the hacktivist group Anonymous in the early 2010s when the Wall Street occupation was the most widely known movement in the United States. Unfortunately, a sunken Guy Fawkes mask was meant to imply an anonymous solidarity scratched on something vital to institutional repression: it is not applied equally.
In 2020, the attacks on democracy are brazen and outspoken, and we know with pain that finesse is not the hallmark of achieving authoritarianism. In fact, as critic Scott Meslow wrote in 2018, while V for Vendetta there are more bites than he did after the release, now you can say it does not go that far.
“It imagines a universe in which a single shooting death of an innocent little girl could inspire an entire society to rise up against a militaristic police force,” Meslow writes. “I imagine the resistance to an anti-democratic political movement that is raised, in part, by powerful members, but with the principle of that political movement. A modern adaptation can dismiss all those plot points as too optimistic. “
V for Vendetta does not particularly bother with the details – the slippery concessions to the fascists are narrated in a dark cascade, and resistance is driven by a single dramatic act. The film universe is small; the only prospect outside of Evey is that of Finch (Stephen Rea), a Scotland Yard inspector who is on the V track and discovers that the government has created a crisis that led to its seizure of power. Through Finch, we tear it all together, and in the film’s best touch, it is all portrayed in a dramatic montage: corruption, rule, and revolution that exist side by side, as the events the film describes are interactive with scenes that will occur during the last 30 minutes of the film.
It is very influential, but it shines a lot work is to defend democracy – how many people do you need to stand by you in protest actually prefer the rule of fascism as long as the fascists line up with them, how many institutions are not built for democracy but for normal condition, and how people running them, will always choose the latter over the former.