Remember, remember, the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot
And so the movie begins.
This is such a profoundly intriguing and powerful movie that I cannot imagine anyone not wanting to watch it. Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore (who wanted to have nothing to do with the movie), it’s thought-provoking and makes me think back to the time when I was attending Political Process classes during my undergraduate days.
In the movie, the government uses fear as a tool of control, effectively manipulating the people into quiet subservience. The mass media has become a propagator of lies, a mouthpiece of the government’s fabrications, an institution that commands no respect or trust in the people’s minds. The people have become sheep, empty vessels that follow the way their leaders tell them to go and although they know that truth is being hidden from them, they have no courage and no will to stand up and fight against the blanket of power that enslaves them.
Until one day, a Guy Fawkes mask-wearing anti-hero V blows up a building to the strains of Tchaikovsky’s 1812. The course of history is changed in that one moment and the people play right into the hands of V and are galvanised into action the following year on Guy Fawkes day.
V is neither a hero nor a villain, a mix of brutality and intellectual elegance. On a larger scale, his reasons for his acts are shrewd and accurate. But on a deeper level, you have to question if he is playing the people against the government in cold, cruel retaliation to the monstrosity that was inflicted upon him 20 years ago.
And that is why the movie is so brilliant. It makes you think, question, rather than accept the norms and notions on a silver platter. There really is no right or wrong in the premise of V’s acts, you cannot apply a standard set of moral values to what he has done.
The clever twist towards the end of the movie (for me, at least) is that eventually, the decision to move forward from today’s events into tomorrow’s future (based loosely on V’s words) was not V’s to make. He set the stage but chose to step back, bowing to the fact that he would not be the one to enjoy today’s fruits of labour tomorrow.
Most hot-blooded men I know would be rushing into the cinemas to catch the ever gorgeous and subtle Natalie Portman at work. She was wonderful as Evey, the long-suffering heroine, and is given top billing but I felt that the true star of the show was Hugo Weaving.
Hidden behind a mask and a wig, he could only rely on body language and vocal techniques to bring out the character of V. As thankless as the role of Gollum in LOTR, he managed to bring out the human side of V through the emotions in his voice and the movements in his body. A little slump of the shoulders, a drop of his head — all these and more brought out the nuances of the character.
To sum it up, this is definitely a must-see movie. Run to the theatres if you can.
[Let’s play tag! hugoweaving, natalieportman, vforvendetta]