I have wanted to write about the film V for Vendetta for some time now. I have held back to give myself some time to critically think on it and watch it a few more times. In one line, I guess I can describe it as the best mainstream film dealing with issues of anarchism, nonviolence and our complicity/consent in perpetuating inequality – by far. It may come to be one of my favourite films of all time!
With each time I watch it, I pick up more and more subtle inclusions that further increase my appreciation of the Wachowski brothers efforts in putting it together. I had read the comic before the film, and I can understand the changes made to the script to strengthen it as a film. As a mainstream film – like many – it has potential to open peoples eyes. What is the issue is whether they are ready for it, as is depicted in, and an underlying theme of the flim: wake up and recognise both your complicity and that without your consent governance/government will fall apart. This could not be clearer in the panning of homes, the bar and retirement home (previously full of people at the time V’s recording was played from the BTN tower) when Chancellor Adam Sutler makes his public statement.
There is so much I could raise/comment on. I will probably right on this film some more – it will definitely received mention in other writings. For now…
One of the most profound points made clear in the film is the reflexive nature of V. Aside from his use of violence for his vendetta/vengence he is so profoundly non-violent in his inter-personal relations. His meetings with Evey from the outset clearly illustrate this. For example, in the alley after saving Evey from the Fingermen:
V: …I am not questioning your powers of observation, I am merely remarking on the paradox of asking a masked man who he is.
And again, shortly afterwards, with the same theme (prior to the Old Bailey fanfare)
Evey: I don’t see any instruments
V: your powers of observation continue to serve you well
These are two examples of how there is no sarcasm or goading in his words, tone, or approach. This is something sorely lacking amongst even the most progressive in our society (I am not immune to such criticisms).
The reflexiveness I referred to was explicitly clear in V’s words to Evey on the night of the 4th one year on. It is both reflexivity and more. Alongside continually questioning himself which – not necessarily clear in the film – is the basis for his non-violent inter-personal relations, is his willingness to consider challenging and scathing criticism without knee-jerk reactions. In ‘giving’ Evey the train:
Evey: These tracks lead to parliament…
Evey: Then it’s really going to happen isn’t it?
V: It will if you want it to.
V: This is my gift to you Evey. Everything that I have – my home, my books, the gallery, this train – I’m leaving to you to do with what you will.
Evey: Is this another trick V!
V: No. No more tricks. No more lies. Only truth. And the truth is you made me understand that I was wrong. That the choice to pull this lever is not mine to make.
V: Because this world, the world that I am a part, that I helped shape, will end tonight. And tomorrow a different world will begin that different people will shape and this choice belongs to them…
What follows, specifically V’s admitting that Evey was right to call him a monster and his selfless and principled decision, is self-sacrifice at its greatest for far beyond any semblance of mutuality. That he does not change (i.e. in character) and reject patriarchal violence as central to his vendetta, for me, really strengthens the film in both praxis and theory.
I guess I will leave it there for now… that there are so many parallels with, and direct quotes from subcommandate Marcos of the EZLN alongside the really critical (tacit) comments on the promotion/creating of fear to subdue dissent – and consent theories of power… So much addressed/touched on and done coherently. I will be returning to this!