Thursday, March 16, 2006


By Reymundo Salao

Originally set for release November 5, 2005, this movie is rumored to have been re-scheduled due to the seemingly-pro-bomber/pro-terrorist aspect of its theme which may stir controversy with regards to the London bombings on July 7 and July 21, 2005. The film-makers have denied this, and say it was delayed to allow more time for production, explaining that the visual effects would not be completed in time.

But as terroristic as some articles and features may accuse it to be, the main character of this movie, a masked vigilante who calls himself "V" really is just a rebel extremist bent on toppling the current dictatorial government that is reigning in tyrannical power over an oppressed nation. Set in a dark & grim not-so-distant-futuristic Europe, the storyline centers upon its two main characters; the vigilante V, who's scarred by a traumatic horrific past, and Evey Hammond, who's also a victim of her own traumatic past when her family all perished in political violence. When they both have become wanted by the government, the Police Inspector hunting them down uncovers dark secrets that may prove the depth of how evil and corrupt the government he works for really is.

This movie is based on the graphic novel from DC's Vertigo comics (which is that line-up of DC's most respected adult series like Death, Hellblazer/Constantine, Neil Gaiman's Sandman, and Hellboy) written by Alan Moore and illustrated mostly by David Lloyd. The film is directed by James McTeigue, who has served as assistant director and second unit director in many big films such as the Matrix movies and Star Wars: Episode II. This movie marks his first project as the director, and indeed has done a great job, balancing the darkness of V's character with his more sympathetic side. McTeigue was also able to create a realistic totalitarian Britain, as well as the struggles, the torment, and the sense of vigilance that ignites among its citizens. This film is produced by respectable filmmakers Joel Silver, Grant Hill, and the Wachowski brothers; Larry & Andy Wachowski, who has gained mass popularity with their revolutionary Matrix movies, and has written a draft of the script in the '90s before they worked on the Matrix.

The central theme of V FOR VENDETTA is revolution, against an oppressive dictatorial power, tapping on a sense of British nationalism. One could say that its main character "V" is a freedom fighter rather than a terrorist. Even when, in one scene, he justifies the higher ends of blowing up a building. To those not familiar with the concept of armed struggle and rebellion, this is a shocking and abhorrent little scene. But to those familiar with the concept of unrest and political battles, this is a reflection of an ugly reality that exists in our real world. Many might find that the theme of this movie is ugly and shouldn’t be sympathized with. But indeed, in nations where the government is maintaining a state of tyranny and absolute control, so much so that it is rabidly gagging up the media and is either imprisoning and rubbing out those who try to search for and expose truths, rebellion will certainly rise. And rebellions who will go to the farthest measures of violence just to defy the iron hand of tyranny. Such are the measures that V employs in this tale of anti-hero heroism.

The central character V, draws inspiration from Guy Fawkes, a legendary Catholic revolutionary in the early 1600s who intended to blow-up the British Parliament, his conviction was to create chaos and disorder in the country from which, it was hoped, a new monarch and political regime sympathetic to the Catholic cause would emerge. But he was captured on November 5, 1605. He was tortured and publicly hanged. Every year across England on November 5th, bonfires blaze and fireworks light the sky in celebration of the foiling of Fawkes' plot to overturn King and government. There are also elements of Victor Hugo's "Phantom of the Opera" in V's storyline, as his tale poses parallels with the characters of the Phantom & Christine Daae.

What sets "V for Vendetta" apart from other futuristic fictions is that it is highly political and is very reflective on many of the nations and governments of our times. As do many existing governments, the government in V demands an unflinching loyalty from its citizenry, and warns them not to question the government or else they will be met with the highest penalties of law. These are the governments that brand investigative media and those who seek and intend to reveal the truth as seditionists, propagandists, and destabilizers. These are the governments that brand activists and freedom fighters as terrorists and anarchists. These are the governments who control the media in order to restrain doubt and a sense of check & balance, and propagate their own manufactured versions of truth. This is the kind of government that drives V to struggle against. His quest for vengeance is fueled by his desire to topple the existing corrupt and totalitarian government, hoping that in its ashes will rise a government for the better future of his country.

V is played by Hugo Weaving, who's well-known for portraying Elrond in the Lord of the Rings movies and the cool icon villain Mr. Smith in the Matrix movies. As V, Weaving proves that he can still be an absolutely expressive actor even when he's wearing a mask. His physique, body movement, and his cool and calmly malevolent voice all add up to truly bring a charming, well-educated, and even often poetic, but lethally dangerous assassin, to life.

Natalie Portman is not only goddess-like beautiful, but is also a flawless actress with focus and quite a solid performance, as a woman with her own conflicts and a convincing awakening, as she allies herself with the cause that V is fighting for. Portman struck media attention when she had her head shaved for this movie, but then again, she revealed that she has looked forward to shave her head for quite a long time. Her character Evey Hammond represents those who have become victims of government abuse and has grown to succumb to the fear and the silence that is implemented, but later awakens to the call for struggle and rebellion.

Stephen Rea plays a great third-person protagonist, playing the analytical game & solving the puzzles of the past, as a chief inspector hunting down V, but unravels the dirt & evil of the government that he works for. He represents that character who, is never himself a victim of the government's abuse, but does not go against it so as to preserve a sense of orderly peace.

And then, there's John Hurt whose attention-shattering performance as a dictatorial chancellor of Britain is obviously patterned after Adolf Hitler.

This movie is truly a great political epic without resorting on unnecessary explosions, dull chase scenes and expensive stunts that other blockbuster borefests would have. Its impact is more on the storyline and the thrill. V FOR VENDETTA is, by far, the most profoundly-spectacular movie I've seen this year. Highly-dramatic despite its action genre image, and thought-provokingly reflective. V FOR VENDETTA is SUPERB and a MUST-SEE!

Director James McTeigue and Hugo Weaving on the set of V FOR VENDETTA

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