"V for Vendetta"
Dir: James McTiegue

Rob Tanaka

Once I heard on a television review that V for Vendetta “made a hero out of a terrorist” I knew I had to go see the film. I had never read the comic-book classic that the movie is based on, and a reluctant fan of the Wachowski brothers, but James McTeique’s (a protégé of the Wachowskis) rendition is both artful, coherent and powerful.

The story is a simple one of revenge, but unlike a film such as Kill Bill explores the problems that arise from revenge and the corruption of the soul that results when the protagonist must essentially become like the enemy in order to destroy him. The Guy Fawkes-like character “V”, played Hugo Weaving, confronts an inner darkness from which he cannot forgive himself nor see any possibility of redemption.

Evey, played by Natalie Portman, becomes the conscience of “V” and attempts to retrieve him from the dark before embracing it. The dark being the violence she must unleash, the destruction of the icons of democracy in order to, paradoxically, save the ideal that it once represented. This embrace of that darkness in order to redeem the ideal lost by the corruption evident in the government, displays a kind of dialectic of chaos against conformity that must be embraced if the situation warrants. In short, the film sets out to justify the context within which modern revolution could take place.

If there is any issue with the film it is that in its ultimate support of violence as a means toward change, although one can see the argument in a situation where a democratic state has become so corrupt that no other alternative exists. This is the case with Vendetta's Britain of the future, where terror attacks are fabricated by the government in order to maintain social control and political power. In such a case, the ballot box no longer makes sense, and this is the point of the film.

Seen metaphorically, the film’s end could be seen to support non-violent protest as the primary means for social change in that the masses at the end do not, ultimately, act in violence. They instead watch it, as if in a movie. If this is the case, the message of V for Vendetta may be much more one to get out the vote in 06, rather than throw a Molotov cocktail.

-- Rob Tanaka

Copyright Web del Sol, 2006

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