Tuesday, March 19, 2019

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V For Vendetta

V For Vendetta

Ideas are bulletproof

Alan Moore hates Hollywood. Having pulled all support for the movie V for Vendetta, based on his groundbreaking 10-part comic series, Moore refuses to endorse the film and has stated so in the press. After having seen his work left in cinematic shambles by the film treatments of Constantine, From Hell, and especially The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Moore’s faith in the capacity of major studios to recreate anything of relevance from the stories he’s written is more than a little shaken. There was a legal battle over the script for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, alleging that the storyline of the film plagiarized parts from another source. This saw Moore testify in court that the parts in question were in fact not part of the original story by him but were added in later. After an insulting settlement with 20th Century Fox, Moore decided to remove himself from having anything to do with movie making, and from this point refuses any credit or payment for adaptations of any of his stories.

Then, unlike Robert Rodriguez’s passionate approach in convincing Frank Miller to get onboard for Sin City, V for Vendetta producer Joel Silver sent out a press release claiming Moore’s excited support of the project. Moore responded, stating he actually didn’t want anything to do with the project, or with Hollywood for that matter.

Celebrated for his literary wit and darkly mature themes, Alan Moore brought an almost intellectual capacity to comics, introducing treatments on politics, violence, and tolerance, often renegotiating the relationship between text and image on the pages of the comics themselves. By the time he finished V for Vendetta in the winter of 1988, the political landscape Moore feared and envisioned in his work had begun to materialize under Margaret Thatcher. Despite what political parallels may have existed then, the thematic and political content seems so relevant today, that in light of the U.S.‘s domestic spying legislation, the development of a culture of fear, and the political and social shift to the right and in western society, it is almost prophetic.

V for Vendetta is a political story. Sort of. Set in the near future of a post-apocalyptic Britain, it follows the story of a brilliant yet slightly insane anarchist, known simply as “V”. With more than a wink to Guy Fawkes, (the man who tried to blow up British Parliament in 1605), V is a freedom fighter, set to bring down the all-seeing, all-controlling rule of an Orwellian government. Or at least he sees freedom in the possibilities of chaos. In the fallout of society’s collapse there has emerged a fascist state, tightly controlled by “The Leader”. All signifiers of difference and dissent have been erased. Lefties, homosexuals, and people of colour have all been fed into ovens. There were also scientific experiments on humans. All of this leads to present day London, where culture has become homogenized and where the fascist will of the state, is enforced by street thugs and other bad men.

Out of this comes our ambiguous hero. Complete with a mask, cape, and an eloquent sense of irony, V begins to dismantle the strangle hold of The Leader’s dystopia. Beginning where Guy Fawkes left off, V begins by blowing up Parliament, then continues by attacking the people and institutions responsible in the construction of the intolerant state.

While undoubtedly V has a bone to pick with those who have done him wrong, and the list is long, the story is not really about the acts of a terrorist. It is about the power of resistance and the possibilities we face as a society. V’s idea is not to claim leadership nor even stewardship over society. Instead he just wants to deliver the chance so people might have the freedom to make their own choices, again.

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