Saw the just-premiered V for Vendetta, a dystopian movie built upon the eighties comic by Alan Moore and David Lloyd.
Yeah, it’s “built upon” and not “based on”, since the movie takes a lot of liberties with the original. For the most part they are done well and unobtrusively – the world is updated from its original 1997 to somewhere in the 2010s, and the story is simplified quite a bit to fit into two hours of visual storytelling as opposed to 200+ pages of intense graphic novel. Britain is still a fascist, totalitarian nation – but the echoes from Mrs. Thatcher’s reign have diminished with time. And it’s definitely a post-911 movie – the original anarchist has been turned into a terrorist, not that the two viewpoints were very far from each other in the guyfawkes-bedecked revenant anyway.
People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.
This continues the “not so easy movies”-series I’ve taken to watching lately. It’s provocative and at times points an accurate finger at the ongoing demolition of civil rights. Fear is the greatest weapon of an oppressing regime, and its eventual consumption of the nation is told well.
It’s a disturbing movie. In broad sweeps it paints a future that no-one wants to see, but a future that seems faintly possible.
Natalie Portman, whose role, Evey, has been upgraded to a media flunky from the novice prostitute in the original, proves that her wooden acting in the Star Wars prequels was not a true show of her abilities, and fits the role of a cornered girl without a future perfectly.
Hugo Weaving, as the eponymous ‘V’ proves that the leading man does not have to show his face in a movie. He’s able to express more with a tilt of his porcelain mask or an added note to his voice than many others have available with a full face.
The smaller roles are filled with familiar faces. Stephen Fry shines as a comedian with multiple dark sides, and John Hurt returns to a bleak future in quite a different role he played the previous time.
A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having.
V for Vendetta is a divisive movie – as noted by the wild spread of reviews. Divisive enough that in leaping beyond the original, it has alienated Alan Moore far enough to request the producers to erase his name from the film entirely. An action that was quite understandable in the case of travesty that was the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but in this case feels heavy-handed.
Me? This is just short of a five star movie (and may be upgraded to one upon a second viewing) – it definitely is one of the very best comic adaptations ever, and the theme fits the current troubled times like a glove. There are questions no-one likes to hear, and answers that are even more dangerous.
And it’s definitely time to re-read the original once again, and spot the few places where the update exceeds the original.