I paused for a few days before writing this review of V for Vendetta because of the polarised views about the film. People who like it are accused of being fan boys, the people who dislike it are alleged to be blind. The truth is somewhere in between.About V
V for Vendetta was imagined by a disillusioned Moore who was living a mid-1980s Britain very different from the present day. The cold war raged on in Africa, the Middle East and Afganistan.
AIDS was a scary new illness and the red-tops were calling for carriers and high-risk groups like homosexuals to be put in ‘detention camps’. We had race riots in Brixton and Toxteth and there were allegations of a shoot-to-kill policy against the catholic minority in Northern Ireland.
The Sunday Times magazine ran a photo-journalism story about how unemployed men in Birkenhead were making ends meet by scrabbling around the municipal dump of Bidston Moss looking for scrap to sell on. And the forces of the state were let loose on mining communities to break the organised labour movement. Violence by police officers captured and shown on the TV news was considered to be inadmissible evidence in cases were charges of police brutality had been brought.
Meanwhile the UK took its first steps to becoming the world’s surviellance capital with the widespread installation of closed-circuit television in most major towns.
In the words of Moore the country had become ‘mean-spirited’ and he thought about moving abroad.
Where its different
- It involves a biological war rather than the low-level nuclear war envisaged by Alan Moore (who didn’t take account of the nuclear winter)
- It references modern-day conflicts like the war on terror and references the negative capitalism of drug companies; indeed the launch fo the film occurred around about the time a pharmaceutical trial went horribly wrong in London
Where it succeeds
- V is well portrayed by Hugo Weaver
- Natalie Portman is in it – lovely
- Elements like the Shadow Gallery are on the money
- Stephen Fry and Stephen Rea are well acted
Where it falls down
- V is too slick for its own good visually
- The film has been badly edited, if you hadn’t read the comic some of the changes would have been harder to understand. For instance, the fire at Larkhill isn’t explained at all and the full significance of Scarlett Carsons – the rare rose breed is missing
- You don’t get an understanding of how Vis at the centre of the country’s control apparatus
Why do they hate V so much?
- Alan Moore had his name removed from the film, though the illustrator David Lloyd was happy to be associated with it. This has as much to do with the bad experience Moore had at the hands of DC Comics and the film industry which are well documented here and here
- Its made by the guys who did The Matrix: it also uses a lot of Matrix cliches in the colour of scenes, their lighting and special effects. Bullet-time is used in the main fight scene for instance
- The controversy of Euan Blair being a runner on the set
- The concern in the public’s mind over terrorism and the ideas that the film drives home are close to the bone