Stephen Speicher

V for Vendetta (2005)

Rate this movie   47 votes

  1. 1. Rate this movie

    • 10
      9
    • 9
      21
    • 8
      6
    • 7
      3
    • 6
      2
    • 5
      2
    • 4
      1
    • 3
      0
    • 2
      1
    • 1
      1
    • 0
      1

Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.

40 posts in this topic

I just came home from watching a second time, and PROUDLY EXULTING TO, V for Vendetta. The negative criticism which I have read affected me not a bit; my emotions were just as intense, if not more so. V is a great man with a great purpose. Evey was extremely fortunate to have met him. I experienced again the artistic perfection of the torture scene as well as the joyously triumphant end. And all through the story, as an undertone, is the sense of the indomitable integrity and justice of V.

Brian Faulkner

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This was one of only a few films in the past couple years that I've enjoyed not only for a good plot, but also for a good intellectual framework. I gave it a 9. I agree with those who have said it didn't go into details on the type of government that should be instituted if the resistance successfully overthrows the oppressive regime currently in power. It certainly did not. But that doesn't mean it is an entirely negative movie attacking dictatorship without having a positive value in its place. It is an attack on oppression, with the immense value of freedom intended to take its place.

In addition, note that the movie did not imply that all governments are bad. In fact, it views the current government as immeasurably worse than the old one and in no way implies that governments naturally end up as dictatorships. V is not fighting against government, but against this government.

Small Spoiler Follows (from the beginning of the movie)

For those who enjoyed the alliteration at the beginning of the movie and would like to see it again:

This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is it vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished, as the once vital voice of the verisimilitude now venerates what they once vilified. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin van-guarding 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 vis-à-vis an introduction, and so it is my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.

I really enjoyed that. In addition to the coolness of the scene, I thought it was great characterization in light of what came before it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Offhand I don't recall any discussion about innocents at all.

In V's television broadcast, he indicates that there are no innocents--that the people of the country did it to themselves, by means of the ideas they held (or the lack of them). I don't recall his exact words, but it was something along the lines of, "If you want to know who is to blame, look in the mirror." He then went on to explain why they are to blame.

There isn't much else that can be heaped onto what all has been said, so I'll just say that I loved it, and the following line has been ingrained in my mind permanently:

"Behind this mask, there is an idea, and ideas are bulletproof."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This was one of only a few films in the past couple years that I've enjoyed not only for a good plot, but also for a good intellectual framework.  I gave it a 9.  I agree with those who have said it didn't go into details on the type of government that should be instituted if the resistance successfully overthrows the oppressive regime currently in power.  It certainly did not.  But that doesn't mean it is an entirely negative movie attacking dictatorship without having a positive value in its place.  It is an attack on oppression, with the immense value of freedom intended to take its place.

In addition, note that the movie did not imply that all governments are bad.  In fact, it views the current government as immeasurably worse than the old one and in no way implies that governments naturally end up as dictatorships.  V is not fighting against government, but against this government.

Small Spoiler Follows (from the beginning of the movie)

For those who enjoyed the alliteration at the beginning of the movie and would like to see it again:

I really enjoyed that.  In addition to the coolness of the scene, I thought it was great characterization in light of what came before it.

jedymastyr, thank you for posting V's alliterative introduction. I am here at 4 o'clock in the morning because I just had a V dream, woke up and knew I wouldn't be going back to sleep.

On a table before me were two small round black containers. I opened them. They were eyes. I put them into my blackened "V" face and light went shooting out from these, my eyes. I then began moving my fingers as though playing a piano, though none was there, just air, and I could hear music which was "a rising in itself", music which I had never heard before.

A beautiful way to begin the day. Thank you V and Evey.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I gave this movie an 8. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I was a slight bit skeptical at first, but was pleasantly surprised by it's intellectual theme, and great characters. There were so many fantastic lines and scenes in this movie!

I am going to buy this as soon as it comes out on DVD. ;)

~Carrie~

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The message is: reason is irrelevant; one has to resort to violence and torture to change the mind of another.

I have ZERO sympathy for this view and after that scene lost any sense of V being a hero.

---

After my post, a couple more thoughts came to me.  This movie presents a libertarian view of freedom, in which the concept is left undefined, and ANY means to get that freedom are justified.  And, in fact, what V calls freedom is actually anarchy...

I have to agree with Ed; I strongly disagree with the prevailing view on this thread that Vendetta somehow represents a romantic movie with a theme vaunting freedom and free will. If there was ever an example of "Bootleg Romanticism," this is it. My issues with the movie are as follows:

Spoilers follow...

1) The presentation of Guy Fawkes' attempt to blow up the Parliament is portrayed out of context, when, according to historical accounts, the conspirators' plot was to blow up the building to kill the king, the Prince of Wales, and, maybe, assorted legislators that were responsible for persecutions of Catholics and, according to one source, to install a Catholic king on the throne, although forced confessions may have resulted in some exaggeration. The plot was foiled because some members of the conspiracy realized that many innocents and even some sympathetic to the Catholics would also be killed in an indiscriminate destruction of the building. The point is that Guy Fawkes was no hero and V has a similar approach to demonstrating opposition. The assassination of evil tyrants was justified; the destruction of a building with hundreds of years of association with Enlightenment values, a distant 2nd, but 2nd only to the United States government, was just destruction. The symbols were the signs, which could have been torn down without such gratuitous destruction. After all, the entire evil government had been eliminated and the building was merely the placed they occupied, as had many benevolent governments before them. This was merely the following through of the Guy Fawkes analogy to an irrational conclusion. It was not about ideas, because the Parliament was not created in the service of evil ideas, but, rather, the expression, certainly after the Magna Carta, of the supremacy of laws over any monarch. It was a step on the way toward freedom and individual rights. A movie of ideas would have expressed such ideas; this was an illustration that a picture (the explosion of the Parliament, lovingly rendered by the effects team and cinematographer for many minutes) is not an argument.

2) Evie was explicitly not allowed to demonstrate courage or integrity beyond her one independent act of civil disobedience, the pepper spraying of V's attacker in the broadcast building hallway. The vaunted torture scene was nothing more than that: Just torture for the sake of annihilating any desire to live. Please note that Evie did not know V's identity, nor where he lived. This was made very clear in the screenplay. Therefore, she had nothing to confess, nothing to give away. She was robbed of any opportunity for heroism, or the chance to demonstrate that she either supported or opposed V's cause. All it would have taken in the screenplay would have been to allow her to take a peek outside and see a road sign or a shop, or an invoice, or some scrap of paper, to have known where she was. Identifying information was made available to the cop, by the psychologist, but none of this was known to Evie and no notes were left around for her to find. Therefore, the omission was deliberate and the only intent left for her torture was to reduce her to nihilism: She didn't care whether she lived or died, she just wanted the torture to stop. She had no information to hold back, none to give. That is not heroic, that is not liberation. It is Nihilism. V essentially believes and says that, when he tells her that her willingness to die means that she is free. This is the "freedom" of Existentialism, of Nihilism, not the Objectivist freedom to pursue ones values. She has none left. She can't even maintain hatred of her torturer, at this point. Yes, she has lost fear: In the way that the psychological torture of a concentration camp victim leaves him without a concern for his life, because, in essence, he already the walking dead.

3) Nowhere does the allegedly eloquent V give even the remotest lip service to rights, as others have mentioned. Nowhere is there any sense of his vision of the role of government, because he's an ANARCHIST. Others have said this, but I say it again, as loudly as a keyboard will allow. He is AGAINST, not FOR anything. He has been tortured and destroyed as a person, even his face is gone. Unlike the Phantom of the Opera, his face is not revealed, not even for the sake of revulsion or acceptance by this woman it has been alleged he loves. He says, essentially, to Evie, that there is no face beneath the mask, there is no man behind the mask; he is gone. He is an instrument of revenge for the evils done him. He murders everyone who engineered his torture. The Parliament, at that point, is more a special effects party than a meaningful political statement. One could argue that this was the signal to the populace that the reign of terror had ended, but a takeover of the broadcast studio and a statement to that effect (more like Galt's speech, for example) would have been far superior. Think, please, of the result of that demolition -- the lawlessness, the... well, anarchy to follow.

4) V says, and I quote (from memory): "People should not fear their government; the government should fear the people." In the world of this movie, there is no alternative presented to force and fear. The word "respect" doesn't exist. Reason doesn't exist. And his yawningly extended alliterations are a distant and hollow echo of the least phrase Edmond Rostand wrote for Cyrano. This is an empty man with empty words. Force is justified in self-defense, in retaliation, but fear is not what you want the government to have, you want respect for individual rights. It doesn't have to be an Objectivist movie, but this one is not even on the same planet.

I was certainly impressed with the technical quality of the movie and certain scenes were powerful, in isolation, but I found only the intent to inspire, not the inspiration. Actions there were, but the ideas were not the stuff of Romantic fiction.

It's slim pickings out there and, like everyone else who cares about art, I am willing to take even a failed, but earnest attempt to depict heroism, but to claim that this movie is any sort of bona fide Romanticism I find completely unjustified.

Here’s hoping for the real thing.

Alan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...If there was ever an example of "Bootleg Romanticism," this is it....

Spoilers follow...

The presentation of Guy Fawkes' attempt to blow up the Parliament is portrayed out of context, when, according to historical accounts ... The point is that Guy Fawkes was no hero and V has a similar approach to demonstrating opposition.

Since when does Romanticism require conformity with "historical accounts?" (If anything, I would imagine Naturalism to be the style demanding a literal transcription of historical events.) This film grew from the existing context of a comic book series and graphic novel, and the Wachowski brothers transformed a great deal of that context into something better, in terms of both the character of Z and his ideas. I for one am glad that they also changed the historical context for the better. I get the impression that some are familiar with the anarchist character from previous books, but the film stands on its own, not by reference to the comic book, the graphic novel, or "to historical accounts."

The assassination of evil tyrants was justified; the destruction of a building with hundreds of years of association with Enlightenment values, a distant 2nd, but 2nd only to the United States government, was just destruction.

If my government here ever reached the depraved depths of that totalitarian state in the movie, I would applaud the destruction of the symbols here that were transformed to such a despicable use.

The vaunted torture scene was nothing more than that:  Just torture for the sake of annihilating any desire to live.  Please note that Evie did not know V's identity, nor where he lived.  This was made very clear in the screenplay.  Therefore, she had nothing to confess, nothing to give away.... Therefore, the omission was deliberate and the only intent left for her torture was to reduce her to nihilism ...

This is all factually wrong. The movie makes clear, explicitly in words, and also in deeds, why and how Evey was transformed from a state of fear into a person in control of her life with the will to live. The movie also made clear, explicitly in words, when Evey first wanted to leave, that her knowledge of the location being underground, combined with the color of the stones, could lead the authorities to Z. Z told her this explicitly as the reason why she could not leave. And, further, by the time she was "arrested" in the "torture" scene, she had already left Z's home for their caper with the Bishop, so presumably she knew even more about the location.

This is all I am going to address about this film. As I said before, I think the detractors here have made gross mis-identifications and mis-interpretations of fact, and, in effect, are not criticizing the actual movie as presented. I will leave it at that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spoilers follow...

Since when does Romanticism require conformity with "historical accounts?" ...

If my government here ever reached the depraved depths of that totalitarian state in the movie, I would applaud the destruction of the symbols here that were transformed to such a despicable use.

This is all factually wrong. ...

The movie also made clear, explicitly in words, when Evey first wanted to leave, that her knowledge of the location being underground, combined with the color of the stones, could lead the authorities to Z. Z told her this explicitly as the reason why she could not leave. And, further, by the time she was "arrested" in the "torture" scene, she had already left Z's home for their caper with the Bishop, so presumably she knew even more about the location.

<snip>

...I think the detractors here have made gross mis-identifications and mis-interpretations of fact, and, in effect, are not criticizing the actual movie as presented. I will leave it at that.

I grant your statement about the symbolism of a hated institution. I get that there was a significant attempt made by the authors to tie V to the Guy Fawkes story as a symbol, not necessarily to the specific motives for the destruction of the Parliament building. Beyond that opener, I saw the main symbols of oppression to be the huge, ugly faces that appeared in everyone's living room until V eliminated them, rather than that Parliament building. To me. But I have to grant that putting the Fawkes story on the top of the show says "Blowing up the Parliament is one spectacular way to attack those in power," which is then followed by a guy in a Guy Fawkes mask, doing the same. I got that.

Your understanding of V's words about the location significantly differs from mine. I understood V to mean, in his speech to Evey about the "color of the stones outside," his lair being "underground," etc. to be the explanation for why she couldn't be allowed to go outside -- that these identifying features were outside and that he couldn't let her see them, or she would, then, know where he lived, not that she already had that information. That interpretation seemed clear to me at the time. Her knowledge of the location and, hence, her ability to betray V, is a critical point and shaped my opinion of the movie.

Well, Stephen, you've done this to me before. I had to go back to see Moulin Rouge because of your arguments in its favor and, though I will still never be a fan of the first act, stylistically, I certainly did learn to appreciate the movie overall and ended up buying the DVD, so I guess I owe it to V to go back and see this one again to make sure I understood it correctly.

I'll reserve judgement until I've done so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Spoilers follow...

Your understanding of V's words about the location significantly differs from mine. I understood V to mean, in his speech to Evey about the "color of the stones outside," his lair being "underground," etc. to be the explanation for why she couldn't be allowed to go outside -- that these identifying features were outside and that he couldn't let her see them, or she would, then, know where he lived, not that she already had that information. That interpretation seemed clear to me at the time. Her knowledge of the location and, hence, her ability to betray V, is a critical point and shaped my opinion of the movie.

But even granted your interpretation to be correct, before the "torture" scene Evey had already left the lair for the caper with the Bishop, so presumably she had already seen the outside before she was captured and interrogated.

Well, Stephen, you've done this to me before. I had to go back to see Moulin Rouge because of your arguments in its favor and, though I will still never be a fan of the first act, stylistically, I certainly did learn to appreciate the movie overall and ended up buying the DVD, so I guess I owe it to V to go back and see this one again to make sure I understood it correctly.

Whatever the outcome, that's more than fair, Alan. Which is one reason why, despite our occasional aesthetic disagreements, you remain one of my favorite people. (And likewise for that Ed guy somewhere in OC. ;) )

I'll reserve judgement until I've done so.

I wouldn't have it otherwise. All I ask, though, is try to see the film on a nice sunny day, after a sexual encounter and a wonderful meal. Perhaps you might even first win the lottery. (Not that I want your emotional state to influence your judgment. :) )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am writing this under the influence of just getting out of the theatre thirty minutes ago.

I strongly urge anyone who has held off seeing this to go see it while it is still in on the big screen.

I generally grant to no one job of picking apart movies for their philosophical / political problems more thoroughly than I do, and this movie does have its share of problems.

Before I saw it, I expected to agree with those who were generally critical of it. And I still agree that there are some pointless cheap shots at several aspects of what I consider to be "virtue".

But the reason I added this post is that in my view, the "correct viewpoints" absolutely overwhelm the cheap shots.

The cheap shots smack almost of add-ons that are in no way essential to the theme of the movie. I don't want to get into a flame war but several of the points raised above are legitimate gripes -- I'll name only two (1) the Koran references, and (2) the fact that the love affair conveyed through the story in the note was a lesbian affair, rather than conventional man-woman relationship. However NEITHER of those aspects, nor the sporadic references to events in the United States, were central or even important to the point or to the plot. One could EASILY pick out the cheap anti-American references and fast-forward through them on the DVD, and never miss a lick. I went into this movie expecting to see scenes of happy Muslims displaying their superiority to the rest of us --- my mistake, because there was precious little reference to Muslims at all.

I also grant to no one a greater level of disdain for libertarians and anarchists than I hold myself, but I did NOT take this movie as promoting either. This story has a CONTEXT, and that context was the present overwhelming power of an all-controlling state. Very much as I would picture a standard 1984 / Animal Farm / Anthem portrayal of such a power --overwhelming, immediate, and deserving of immediate extinction from ALMOST any corner. True, it was a shame that V was fixated on blowing up Parliament -- better that he should have blown up the BBC or something, but that was just a unifying device for the movie. Ayn Rand would have picked a better device, no doubt, but in the end the destruction of the Parliament seemed to have almost NOTHING to do with its role as a symbol of Western heritage. The movie picked Parliament as a symbol of the dictator. I wish and think it could have picked a better symbol -- maybe one of the Cathedrals -- and boy did the church take it on the chin in this movie!!!! -- but the movie is what it is, and that point almost fades into the background. (In fact, as I edit this a second time, I realize that blowing up the Parliament really fades into the background -- almost as an afterthought. By the time it happens, the movie has made its point, and it serves as a good finale, but little more.)

Sure, I wish there had been more explicit philosophical advocacy, and I can't quote the details of what I remember, but it seems to me that the general impression left by the statements V made DID pretty much comport with the proper priniciples of reason and individualism. I don't recall V saying anything much that offended me -- maybe I missed it and maybe my memory is poor, but very little out of V's mouth was anarchist or libertarian or worse.

OK that's all I have to say. I respect and agree with the method used by those who criticize the movie. I applied the same method myself, in fact, as best I could. Byt my conclusion difffers, because despite the faults the movie does have an overall identifiable "sense of life", and in my view that "sense of life" is one with which most who post here would agree. (I've read other posts by several of the critics and I would be surprised if this does not ESPECIALLY apply to them.)

Thanks to the Speichers' for hosting this board to provide this place for my rant! I have now seen three movies -- King Arthur, Serenity, and now "V" which I would have missed but for this board. Thanks again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Saw this movie for the second time last night, as I bought the Blu-ray version for $9 at Costco, fondly remembering how much I liked the film when I rented it years earlier.

My second viewing served to reinforce the positive aspects of the film, which were the recognition of the evil of a totalitarian state. Indeed, many of the flaws mentioned here are valid, to various degrees, depending on how one interprets this film and some of the pertinent scenes. But overall, I'm surprised this film is not being banned by the Obama administration, as it's practically an oblique call to action to all oppressed peoples to rise up and take back their nations from totalitarianism.

What kept going through my mind was "maybe these guys read Atlas Shrugged" and V's speech seemed to be staged in a sort of manner and circumstance that the Galt speech occured, though the content was quite different. There were enough similarities to bring Rand's writings to mind as I experienced this film again.

I think this is a film that should be widely circulated, as it expounds some important points, such as the emphasis that ideas have meaning and they shape the physical and political world we live in. I thought V's clever prose was cute, though a bit superfluous in its excess, yet nevertheless entertaining and often full of memorable quotes.

I gave it a 9 because of the sense of life it is trying to convey through V's personal environment, and his ideas and astute recognition of the evil principles that brought the world to its sorry state of existence. He was only possible because of his own transformation, the value of any normal life being destroyed by his past torture, thus freeing him of fear of self-preservation because there was no self left to preserve. He was free to take on this mission as a result, and he went about it patiently, planning it for 20 years, visualizing its every detail, all carefully orchestrated for that fateful 5th of November. The man endured such a suffering that would drive most others insane. Instead, he turned the pain to a productive campaign to rid the world of an evil dictatorship and liberate the people, giving them hope and making them realize they,not the government, control their destiny.

I think it was one of the most politically-dangerous films of our time. And a darned good one at that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the reason you underestimate the importance of the Q'ran bit and other hints is because you were not in the UK for the past 10 years. The ENTIRE movie has a specific "flavour" which is that of the left, the kind of left-wing that is fashionable amongst university campuses in the UK. It's different from the American left - a lot more bitter, a lot more victimized. Like this: http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/ - but I doubt you'll "get" the flavour, since the US is so different despite a similar underlying altruistic current.

They also dislike those in power, but the direction they want to move in is not the same as ours. In fact, the film tells you a lot about how most young people in the UK perceive the Conservative Party.

Personally I can't bear to even see a poster of the film. It just makes me feel sick just like hearing another of those whiners go on and on and on irrationally.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I loved this movie. I saw beyond the aspects of politics and morality that I disagreed about. I must say that I didn't even grasp yet any flawed and evil liberal propoganda in it. Anyways, the movie is irresistible even from the opening speech, which is Natalie Portman's character's:

V For Vendetta

We are told to remember the idea, not the man

Because a man can fail, he can be caught.

He can be killed and forgotten.

But four hundred years later an idea can still change the world.

I've witnessed first hand the power of ideas,

I've seen people kill in the name of them,

And die defending them.

But you cannot kiss an idea, cannot touch it or hold it.

Ideas do not bleed, they do not feel pain,

They do not feel love.

And it is not an idea that I miss--

It is a man;

A man that made me remember ... [ ] ...

A man that I will never forget ...

[END QUOTE]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I loved this movie. I saw beyond the aspects of politics and morality that I disagreed about. I must say that I didn't even grasp yet any flawed and evil liberal propoganda in it. Anyways, the movie is irresistible even from the opening speech, which is Natalie Portman's character's:

V For Vendetta

We are told to remember the idea, not the man

Because a man can fail, he can be caught.

He can be killed and forgotten.

But four hundred years later an idea can still change the world.

I've witnessed first hand the power of ideas,

I've seen people kill in the name of them,

And die defending them.

But you cannot kiss an idea, cannot touch it or hold it.

Ideas do not bleed, they do not feel pain,

They do not feel love.

And it is not an idea that I miss--

It is a man;

A man that made me remember ... [ ] ...

A man that I will never forget ...

I loved the movie! Especially when the houses of parliament were blown to smithereens. Gawd almighty! That was a rush. Somewhere in the heart of every liberty loving person there is a wish/fantasy that one of these years, Guy Fawkes will succeed.

V said in his Grand Speech that people should not fear their government, rather the government should fear the people. The sentiment of the motion picture is not only anti-tyranny, but anti-government (qua government).

So here is my question: how well does an anti-government attitude fit with Objectivism?

Bob Kolker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Frankly, I didn't care for this film. It was too much like my short stories so far! Too much preaching; it sounded like propaganda and, well, hell, it was. The movie was more like a "fun lecture" than an aesthetic experience.

I also was somewhat angered about the gloriciation of the distruction of the Parliament building (and Whitehall??). I understand that that building was built to house a statist government. But like someone in this thread said, it was built in the spirit of Enlightenment ideas. If the government of England, miraculously, went laissez-faire capitalist, I would still want that building used. Alot of thought and planning went into it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites