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A protest for liberty

By | 2006-03-23T09:00:00-05:00 March 23rd, 2006|Entertainment|

By Cornelius A. Fortune

“V for Vendetta” must truly rank as one of the best “protest” films that isn’t a protest film ever made. This one has a real story to tell, not to mention some cool special effects.
Coming from Alan Moore’s brilliant graphic novel of the same name, my expectations were mostly low for “V for Vendetta” the movie. I still say the graphic novel is better (meatier), but the movie at least gets the spirit of the original right, and that says a lot.
It’s too bad Moore called the script “rubbish” in a recent New York Times article and had his name removed from the film. It’s a shame because his work is definitely tied with the LGBT community, and “V for Vendetta” is no different.
From where I’m standing, the movie is a success. Natalie Portman pulls off her best performance in a major motion picture. Hugo Weaving (“Lord of the Rings” and “The Matrix Trilogy”) gives “V” a humanity that would seem hard to accomplish with a mask, yet somehow he manages in a way I was unprepared for. I found something I didn’t think I would find while watching the film: an emotional connection. At first the comic book geek in me was saying, “That’s not in the book!” but 15 minutes into it, the characters from the movie assured me that I was in good hands, and what a treat it is.
“V” takes place in 2020. England has become a totalitarian state and curfews are aggressively enforced. It’s a world controlled by the government; a well-oiled machine that rewards obedience and pacifism, where religious freedom is little more than a dirty word best left unspoken. Two plagues have taken the lives of almost 100,000 people, many of which were children, and the shadow of terrorism looms large.
Evey (Portman) is thrust into the strange and violent world of V (Weaving), when he saves her from being raped by government cops. V shows her his first play for revolution: an elaborate scheme that involves symphonic music and blowing stuff up. He later ransacks the British Television Network and promises the people that together they can end tyranny if they can only remember Nov. 5 (the day Guy Fawkes – a British revolutionary – was hung for trying to blow up the houses of Parliament). A year later V promises to blow up the Parliament if the people will stand with him. They do, and when they gather together, the real question becomes what will the government do now that its authority is being questioned: shoot?
Through the course of the film, we learn bits and pieces about V (like his sad origins and why he wears a Guy Fawkes mask), which lends more depth to the character. Freshman director James McTeigue expertly weaves a tale that could have become too cumbersome under another director, and The Wachowski Brothers (The Matrix Trilogy) deliver a taut script that should assuage nay-sayers of their lamented Matrix Sequels that the brothers are still a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood.
The “Valerie” section of the film – which was the part that made the graphic novel more than words and pictures and more than literature, because of its raw exploration of forbidden love – is given the celluloid treatment with intelligence and verisimilitude. Valerie is a lesbian actress who is part of the government’s purge of the homosexual population. She gives us an autobiography that Evey reads (on toilet paper passed through a tiny hole in her cell). This story – and Evey’s reaction to it – is the turning point in her understanding of V’s true intentions: liberation. Even her boss Gordon is closeted because he knows that if he acts on his natural impulses he’ll be imprisoned. Helping Evey is, as he says, “The least of my worries.”
With fragments of 911, the London bombings, vague references to ideologies that sound very much like our own government’s and the examination of love and tolerance, “V for Vendetta” does what science fiction is always supposed to do: hold the mirror up and have us examine our ugly parts, laid exposed and cracked in the dying sunlight.
“People should not be afraid of their governments,” says V. “Governments should be afraid of their people.”
In the end “V for Vendetta” is a call to revolution, a protest for liberty.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.