I used to sit on the 21st floor. Now I am retired

Saturday, April 08, 2006

What did V achieve?

It is a Very well-made movie, yes. I fell in love with the form of the movie and hence, find it difficult to be objective about it. In case you want to read more, go here and here. It's worth watching for the turns, the sharp editing and the witty dialogue.

Two favourite moments stand out. One, when V gives his alliterative speech. This is done right upfront. Even though, I don't agree with the content, I can't but admire the delivery.

"...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..." Vah! Vah!

And when he's finished with his speech, after a pause, she asks, "Are you like a crazy person?"

Second is when V is taking Evey through his favourite movie. She asks, "Does it have a happy ending?" V says, "As only celluloid can deliver." At that moment you know what the ending will be. (Spoiler Warning: In case you want to read ahead, I am assuming you have seen the movie, or are okay with a discussion which reveals the ending)

The movie is also remarkable in terms on connections, most of them ironical. Not only in content, but even in terms of trivia. Winston Smith in 1984 becomes Chancellor Slutter. Agent Smith/ Douglas Jardine becomes V. Why? even Stephen Fry acts as as a caricature of Stephen Fry. Put in the myriad movie posters and paintings in Shadow Gallery which are connected to the movie, example, James Cagney in White Heat, where the protagonist (villain?) breaks into a chemical plant, and you will see any trivia-buff worth his salt tripping through the movie.

However, this post is not about either the form nor the trivia. It is about content.

Start of Rant
I can see why Alan Moore would wipe his hands off the movie. In the novel, Finch, a legalist, kills V, the anarchist. In the film, though the battle is between neo-conservatives and liberals. Thus, V is not an anarchist anymore, his many dialogues (about buildings and humans being mere symbols) and his extraordinary violence (against innocent policemen and bystanders) notwithstanding. Nothing shows this more, than the extraordinary banal ending. Keep in mind that I haven't read the novel (soon will), so all I am saying about Alan Moore or the novel is pure conjecture.

At the end of the movie, V dies and passes his mantle on the new generation.

In a painfully contrived moment, V says that he is part of the old world, which along with old regime is about to be destroyed. Evey on the other hand is part of the new world that is to come, and hence the people of this new world should have the freedom to decide their own fate, not him. What?

A man, with nothing to lose, gives years of his life for a revolution. The revolution is to reach its climax with the bombing of the parliament using an explosive-laden train. However, at the moment of truth, he decides to give control of the bomb-laden train to a woman he thinks he is in love with. An ending, as only celluloid can deliver.

In an anarchic world, there's no need for such handovers. There is no hierarchy and no conception of leadership which will decide whether to blow up the parliament or not. Hence, the novel ends with V's death and riots.

In the film though, the liberal movement that has been spawned by V needs a leader. Thus, V is not killed by Finch, as in the novel. For Finch now is the new leader of the masses.

In a way, Finch was established as the hero since the first scene itself. While, he is part of the old world leadership, he has been careful enough to show enough skepticism about the old regime and shout at Creedy. Thus, when the crowd will get over the cool fireworks and want some order in their lives (well, somebody has to guard and run the country in a world strifed by war, no?) they will have Finch to lead them. That's the reason why Evey takes Finch with her to a position on top. The new leadership (liberal, skeptic, fiesty) has been found. The crowds don't riot. England will Prevail.

Alan Moore's V* would be rolling in his grave*. But what do you expect from producers and Warner Bros. who actually postponed the release of the movie from November 5, because of possible backlash from Londoners recovering from the bombings?
End of Rant

Incidentally, I decided to stay back for the credits, after I read this. Good thing. For not only did I get to hear "Street Fighting Man" by the Stones but also heard "Pardesi, Pardesi" from Raja Hindustani mixed with "Chura Ke Dil Tera" from Main Khiladi Tu Anari, with excerpts from Malcom X and Gloria Steinem. Fantastic stuff (wonder whether Nadeem-Shravan and Anu Malik have realised this yet).

I tried to to find the entire mix on the net, but only found the original mix by Ethan Stoller. Apologies for Jennifer Garner in a sari. I guess you should close your eyes and think of the movie instead. Here it is:

You can go check out the video at You tube as well.

*Having ranted, I am not saying at any moment that I identify with V's politics. But that's another post altogether.


Blogger maverick said...

planning to see this on imax tuesday, wanna see the inside man too, everyone here said its good

Sunday, April 09, 2006 11:10:00 AM

Blogger Mr. D said...

In the book, V dies in Evey's arms. Evey wears the mask, and climbs to a terrace and the world sees V. I think that had a totally ideological different impact from the movie. The entire concept of V being a symbol of revolution than a particular person is so lost in the movie, which annoyed me most.
I feel this is one of the best graphic novels I've read. You can feel Moore's discontent with the government at the time of writing it. Don't miss. Let me know if you can't find it, I have soft copy.

Monday, April 10, 2006 5:12:00 AM


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