“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”
V for Vendetta is the second film that I have re-watched and reviewed. It is one of my favourite films, so I knew I had to go back and review it.
V for Vendetta follows the story of V (Hugo Weaving), a charming, suave, sophisticated and enigmatic vigilante who wants to overthrow the tyrannical, totalitarian and fascist government headed by Adam Sutler (John Hurt) that is ruling over England. V is a revolutionary who wants the British public see through the propaganda that is spoon fed to them by the British government.
The concept. I am a massive George Orwell and 1984 fan and V for Vendetta is very much a modern retelling of it. A number of comparisons can be drawn between the two films. V is obviously supposed to be Winston Smith, if a more violent and unforgiving version, Evey (V’s love interest played by Natalie Portman) is a meeker and less, initially at least, willing to believe version of Julia and Adam Sutler is a tangible, physical version of Big Brother. As an interesting bit of trivia, in the 1984 version of 1984, John Hurt plays Winston Smith, yet in V for Vendetta he is the Big Brother character. Another reason why he film is so good is how it applies to modern society and people’s distrust of governments. The NSA Spying Scandal and the passing of the NDAA, a horrific act that allows the government to arrest and imprison you without charge or trial, has done little to help the public image of the American government.
Meanwhile, people are beginning to criticise the English government for their proposals to scrap the Human Rights Act and their introduction of their new internet snooping bill. Hugo Weaving and John Hurt gave great performances. John Hurt was terrifying as the intimidating Adam Suttler and Weaving, despite how his face is always obscured behind his mark, uses his voice and body language to great effect. Natlie Portman was also good in her role as Evey, even if her English accent was less than convincing. The supporting cast including Tim Piggot-Smith, Stephen Rea and Stephen Fry, amongst others were also great. Another plus of the film is the mask that V wears throughout the film. Its intricate design of a mocking smile has become a symbol of many political activist groups around the world.
I really didn’t like the ending. I thought it was too happy and corny to fit well in a film, as dark and brutal as V for Vendetta. In 1984, Big Brother tortures Winston Smith and makes him betray Julia and himself by turning him into a supporter of Big Brother before eventually killing him. I think something similar to this would have been a more fitting conclusion to V for Vendetta. Granted, V does die at the end, but the fireworks and the happy music really jarred with me.
A great film with a great concept, symbolism and performances, but an ending that was too happy to fit a dark film like this.