The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Saturday, March 18, 2006

V for Vendetta (2006)

Well, here’s a movie that will get a lot of conversations started.  “Vendetta,” written and produced by the Wachowski, brothers, is packed with more ideas per frame than any commercial film I’ve seen in years.  It tells the tale of a masked terrorist (“V”) who promises to bring down England’s totalitarian government.  Filled with allusions to the current political scene, it is most certainly not  “about” the Bush administration: it’s been in development for ten years, and the original comic (written by Alan Moore, who disowned the film) was a swipe at Margaret Thatcher, not GW.  However, what the film IS about is the nature of fear, and the way people sacrifice their freedoms for it…and the freedom that comes from understanding that there are worse things than death.

The Wachowskis are clearly madmen, and I love them.  The film ain’t perfect, and there are more subtexts than you can shake a stick at.  There is also plenty of quasi-mystical dialogue (“God is in the rain”) that will stick in many craws. It doesn’t collapse into itself as did the Matrix Trilogy, but I doubt many will find it wholly satisfying. What they WILL find is a genuinely thoughtful piece of social science fiction, aimed at the eternal problem of balance of power between citizens and state.  I walked out of that theater feeling that it was, in essence a very small and intimate film that contains a couple of large set-pieces.  Ultimately, it could almost have been mounted as a stageplay, and certainly could have been a flashy musical.  But the most devastating moments are between Natalie Portman as a woman brought slowly to her ultimate strength, and Hugo Weaving as the titular masked “V.” 

There are moments exciting, heart-breaking, amusing, repulsive, and rousing.  A damned fine two hours of entertainment.  I love the Wachowskis---and in a very odd sense, if someone said that this entire film took place in the Matrix, I could find evidence to back that contention.  I wonder if any readers will pick up on the same interesting “evidence” I did?  Not saying that’s what it was, just having a little fun.

At any rate, an “A-“ for having the courage to have an idea in its head.  Comic books have done growed up.

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