The Virgin is a place where the future can be considered. So are movies. In Yesterday’s Future, we review a film about the future and consider the things it tells us today, tomorrow, and yesterday.
The movie: V of Vendetta (2006) directed by James McTeigue
The future: Inside V of Vendetta, a lot has gone wrong very quickly and there doesn’t seem to be much to do. The film is set in 2020 and London is now under the authoritarian rule of the late fascist chancellor Sutler (John Hurt), the leader of the extremely Nazi-looking Nordic party.
The parallels to the real world 2020 are alarming: the “St. The “Mary̵7;s Virus” has unleashed a pandemic on the world, hitting the United States (which doesn’t really fit into the London-centered plot) and sending it down a path to economic ruin and civil war. The Norsefire party, which took part in a wave of neoconservative support, is calling for gay citizens to anyone who practices a religion other than a state-sanctioned church and has state media support. Surveillance is almost accidental, with government vans regularly sweeping the streets to listen to citizens.
This is the world we meet in Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman), a priceless employee of the British Television Network. One night, she is threatened with sexual assault by secret police and later rescues V (Hugo Weaving), a superhuman terrorist with a Guy Fawkes mask. Like Guy Fawkes, V has a plan to blow up Parliament and assassinate several members of the government responsible for the Nordic takeover and, it is revealed, his own creation. The film ends before we find out if it is successful, but not before the citizens of London are inspired to don their mask as well and take to the streets.
The past: V of VendettaWhile not as significant a work as the Alan Moore and David Lloyd comic on which it is based, it is a film that does not apologize to a terrorist. In March 2006, this felt radical for a successful film that was written by the Wachowskis as their first major project after Matrix trilogy. Critics were fascinated by this.
“The smartest aspect of the film is the way it turns a terrorist into a Croatian hero while staying politically correct.” Tutor Film critic Philip French wrote in his review. “What it fails to do is create a credible future or avoid pomp.”
“For all rights, this should be the worst time imaginable to break free V of Vendetta, a film with – there is really no polite word – a terrorist hero prone to say things like “Violence can be used well” and “Sometimes a building explosion can change the world.” Keith Phipps’ critique begins with He AV Club. “Because? V of Vendetta play as a crowd pleasure?
Just five years retired from 11/11 and so many years in the U.S. Terror War, a film that valued a terrorist felt radical almost immediately. The film softens this obvious advantage with overly obstructive allusions 1984, making a tribute to George Orwell as Lloyd and Moore.
Alan Moore, the writer of the comic on which the film is based, refused to show his name in the film or any material that promotes it. (Moore has made it clear that he opposes it cap adaptation of his work in principle, regardless of quality.) Purists would indulge in the film by reducing the very specific response of the source material in Thatcherite England to a metaphor of Bush-era America ( in a story where America is specifically marked). the film turned V into a hero rather than a dead extremist. But time had a way of making all these points effective. The movie is very different now.
The present: In retrospect, both the great strength and the weakness of V of Vendetta lies in its lack of specificity. His Orwellian aesthetic gives him a kind of timeless plate, and his arguments about fascism and the hectic death of freedom are old that become painfully relevant when there is a new attempt to undermine democracy by power.
The film’s most enduring symbol is a mask, which was adopted as a sign of real-world protest by the hacktivist group Anonymous in the early 2010s, when Occupy Wall Street was the best-known activist movement in the United States. Unfortunately, a smiling Guy Fawkes mask means it denoted anonymous solidarity for something vital about institutional oppression: it doesn’t apply equally.
In 2020, attacks on democracy are blatant and we know painfully that subtlety is not a hallmark of the scope of authoritarianism. In fact, as critic Scott Meslow wrote in 2018, while V of Vendetta it has more bite than it did when throwing it, now you could say it doesn’t get enough.
“One imagines a universe in which a single shooting death of an innocent girl could inspire an entire society to stand up to a militaristic police force,” Meslow writes. “Imagine the resistance to an anti-democratic political movement that arises, in part, from powerful but early members of that political movement. A modern adaptation could dismiss all these plot points as too optimistic.”
V of Vendetta he is not particularly concerned with details: the creepy concessions to the fascists are explained in a bleak cascade and the resistance occurs in a single dramatic act. The universe of the film is small; the only prospect outside of Evey is that of Finch (Stephen Rea), a Scottish Yard inspector who is on the V track and discovers that the government was driving the crisis that caused his power take-off. Through Finch, we compose it all and, in the best touch of the film, it is portrayed in a single dramatic montage: corruption, domination and revolution existing side by side, as the events of the film Film are interspersed with scenes that are about to pass over. Final 30 minutes of the film
It’s very affecting, but it comes down to how much to work is to defend democracy: people who need to be by their side to protest actually prefer the rule of fascism as long as fascists join them, as institutions are not built for democracy but for normalityand how the people who lead them will always choose the latter over the former.