V for Vendetta Essay
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V for Vendetta sets the Gunpowder Plot as V’s historical inspiration, contributing to his choice of timing, language and appearance For example, the names Rookwood, Percy and Keyes are used in the film, which are also the names of three of the Gunpowder conspirators. The film creates parallels to Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, by drawing direct comparisons between V and Edmond Dantes. (In both stories, the hero escapes an unjust and traumatic imprisonment and spends decades preparing to take vengeance on his oppressors under a new persona.
The film is also explicit in portraying V as the embodiment of an idea rather than an individual through V’s dialogue and by depicting him without a past, identity or face. According to the official website, “V’s use of the Guy Fawkes mask and persona functions as both practical and symbolic elements of the story. He wears the mask to hide his physical scars, and in obscuring his identity – he becomes the idea itself.
” As noted by several critics and commentators, the film’s story and style mirrors elements from Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera.
V and the Phantom both wear masks to hide their disfigurements, control others through the leverage of their imaginations, have tragic pasts, and are motivated by revenge. V and Evey’s relationship also parallels many of the romantic elements of The Phantom of the Opera, where the masked Phantom takes Christine Daae to his subterranean lair to re-educate her. As a film about the struggle between freedom and the state, V for Vendetta takes imagery from many classic totalitarian icons both real and fictional, including the Third Reich and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.
For example, Adam Sutler primarily appears on large video screens and on portraits in people’s homes, both common features among modern totalitarian regimes and reminiscent of the image of Big Brother. In another reference to Orwell’s novel, the slogan “Strength through Unity. Unity through Faith” is displayed prominently across London, similar in cadence to “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength” in Orwell’s book. This connection between the two can also be seen when Evey is being tortured and finds the rat in her room, akin to that being the protagonist’s worst fear in Nineteen
Eighty-Four. There is also the state’s use of mass surveillance, such as closed-circuit television, on its citizens. Valerie was sent to a detention facility for being a lesbian and then had medical experiments performed on her, reminiscent of persecution of gays and Jews in Nazi Germany (see Persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust). The name of Adam Sutler is inspired by the name of Adolf Hitler. Sutler’s hysterical speech is also inspired from Hitler’s style of speech although his targets for persecution now include Muslims rather than Jews.
Norsefire has replaced St George’s Cross with a national symbol similar to the modern Cross of Lorraine (both crossbars near the top). This was a symbol used by Free French Forces during World War II, as it was a traditional symbol of French patriotism that could be used as an answer to the Nazis’ swastika. The letter V and the number 5 Voila! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate. This visage – no mere veneer of vanity – is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished.
However, this valourous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition! The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one-day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honour to meet you and you may call me V. — V’s introductory monologue upon meeting Evey
Similarly to the graphic novel, there is repeated reference to the letter “V” and the number five throughout the film (note “V” is the Roman numeral five). For example, V’s introduction to Evey is a monologue containing 48 words beginning with the letter “V”, and containing a total of 52 letter “V”s. When Evey tells V her name he repeats it slowly as “E… V”. In Evey’s name, the letter “E” is the fifth letter of the alphabet, “V” is the fifth letter from the end of the alphabet and is the Roman numeral for five, and the letter Y is the 25th letter of the alphabet; 25 being 5 squared.
In Latin, Evey’s phonetic name means “exit V”; the character V acknowledges this, knowing that this event has begun the chain-reaction of events which will end in his demise. During his imprisonment at Larkhill, V was held in cell “V”, as is Evey during her fake imprisonment. V’s Zorro-like signature is also the letter “V”. In the explosion involving the Old Bailey, the fireworks form a red V configuration, completed by a circular firework, thus resembling not only V but the V for Vendetta logo.
It is revealed that V’s favourite phrase is “By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe”, which according to the film translates into the 5 “V”ed Latin phrase: “Vi Veri Vniversum Vivus Vici”. (“Vniversum” is actually written with a U, but in old Latin, the letter “U” was written as a “V. “) In a dance with Evey, the song V chooses is number five on his jukebox. In fact, all the songs are song number five. When V confronts Creedy in his greenhouse, he plays Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, whose opening notes have a rhythmic pattern that resembles the letter “V” in Morse code (•••–).
The film’s title itself is a reference to “V for Victory”. As V waits for night to fall, he arranges a complex domino pattern in black and red which forms the V logo. In the short sequence overlooking the train carriages, the railway tracks form the letter V. In a flyover shot of London towards the end of the film, Big Ben is shown, with its hour hand pointing at 11 and the minute hand at 1, forming a V shape. When the time is read, it shows 11:05, another reference 11–5, or November 5.
In the battle with Creedy and his men at Victoria station, he uses five of his six daggers and forms a “V” with his daggers just before he throws them. As V throws two of his daggers at the men on either side of Creedy, the daggers form a “V” shape five times while spinning through the air. After V kills Creedy’s men, Creedy fires five shots at V. After the battle, when V is mortally wounded, he leaves a “V” signature in his own blood. The destruction of Parliament results in a display of fireworks which form the letter “V”, which is also an inverted Circle-A, a symbol commonly used by anarchists.
Modern fears of totalitarianism “We felt the novel was very prescient to how the political climate is at the moment. It really showed what can happen when society is ruled by government, rather than the government being run as a voice of the people. I don’t think it’s such a big leap to say that things like that can happen when leaders stop listening to the people. ” —James McTeigue, Director With the intention of modernising the film, the filmmakers added topical references relevant to a modern 2006 audience.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “With a wealth of new, real-life parallels to draw from in the areas of government surveillance, torture, fear mongering and media manipulation, not to mention corporate corruption and religious hypocrisy, you can’t really blame the filmmakers for having a field day referencing current events. ” There are also references to an avian flu pandemic, as well as pervasive use of biometric identification and signal-intelligence gathering and analysis by the regime.
Many film critics, political commentators and other members of the media have also noted the film’s numerous references to events surrounding the then-current George W. Bush administration in the United States. These include the “black bags” worn by the prisoners in Larkhill that have been seen as a reference to the black bags worn by prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and in U. S. -administered Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, though the pre-The Matrix draft of the screenplay also contains this reference to black bags. Also London is under a yellow-coded curfew alert, similar to the U. S. overnment’s color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System.
One of the forbidden items in Gordon’s secret basement is a protest poster with a mixed U. S. –U. K. flag with a swastika and the title “Coalition of the Willing, To Power” which combines the “Coalition of the Willing” with Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of Will to Power. As well, there is use of the term “rendition” in the film, in reference to the way the regime removes undesirables from society. There is even a brief scene (during the Valerie flashback) that contains real-life footage of an anti-Iraq War demonstration, with mention of U. S. President George W. Bush.
Finally, the film contains references to “America’s war” and “the war America started” as well as real footage from the Iraq War. The film also makes a brief reference to wars in Kurdistan, Syria and Sudan. Despite the America-specific references, the filmmakers have always referred to the film as adding dialogue to a set of issues much broader than the U. S. administration. When James McTeigue was asked whether or not BTN was based on Fox News Channel, McTeigue replied, “Yes. But not just Fox. Everyone is complicit in this kind of stuff. It could just as well been the Britain’s Sky News Channel, also a part of News Corp. “