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V for Vendetta is a 2006 dystopian science fiction-thriller film directed by James McTeigue and produced by Joel Silver and the Wachowski brothers, who also wrote the screenplay. The film is an adaptation of the graphic novel V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. Set in Londonmarker in a near-future dystopian society, the film follows the mysterious V, a freedom fighter seeking to effect sociopolitical change while simultaneously pursuing his own violent personal vendetta. The film stars Natalie Portman as Evey Hammond, Hugo Weaving as V, Stephen Rea as Inspector Finch and John Hurt as Chancellor Sutler.

The film was originally scheduled for release by Warner Bros. Friday, November 4, 2005 (a day before the 400th Guy Fawkes Night), but was delayed; it opened on March 17, 2006. Reviews were positive and the worldwide box office was over $132 million, but Alan Moore, facing his disappointment in both From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, both film adaptions of two other graphic novels created by Moore, refused to view the film and subsequently distanced himself from it. The filmmakers removed many of the anarchist themes and drug references present in the original story and also altered the political message to what they believed would be more relevant to a 2006 audience.

Plot

Somewhere between 2035 and 2039, Britain has become totalitarian and is ruled by the Fascist Norsefire regime. The story follows Evey Hammond, a young woman who is rescued from Finger agents (having broken curfew) by a Guy Fawkes-masked vigilante known as "V". After rescuing her, she witnesses V's destruction of the Old Baileymarker. The next day, the regime explains the incident to the public as an emergency demolition, but this is shown to be a lie when V takes over the state-run British Television Network (BTN) the same day. He broadcasts a message urging the people of Britain to rise up against the oppressive government on the fifth of November; one year from that day, when V will destroy the Houses of Parliamentmarker. When the police raid the building, Evey helps V escape, but because she was identified as being at the scene of the Old Bailey's destruction she is put in danger. V saves Evey from being captured and interrogated by officials and brings her to his lair, where she is told that she must stay in hiding with him. After helping V to kill a government official, she escapes to the home of one of her superiors at the BTN, television personality Gordon Deitrich. Deitrich explains that he is secretly a dissident of the regime, owning several banned works of art. However, after he broadcasts a comedic show critical of the country's current regime, the state police raid Gordon's home, capturing Evey. She is incarcerated in a Norsefire concentration camp and tortured for days. Finding solace only in a note left by another prisoner, a lesbian named Valerie, Evey is told that she will be executed unless she reveals V's whereabouts. Evey says she would rather die; she is then released. Evey discovers that her imprisonment was staged by V, to free her from fear of the fascist government — "Only when you have no fear are you free," V tells her. Evey also learns that Gordon was executed after the police found a Qur'an in his house. Upset, Evey leaves V, promising to return before the fifth of November.

Inspector Finch, through his investigation of V's murders, learns how Norsefire came to power. Fourteen years earlier, the British government had been on the verge of collapse. The openly fascist Norsefire party led a purge to restore order; enemies of the state (Muslims, blacks, homosexuals, communists) were kidnapped by the secret police during the night. The country was divided over the loss of freedom until a bioterrorist attack occurred, killing about 80,000 people. The fear generated by the attack allowed Norsefire to silence opposition and win the next general election by a landslide. A cure for the virus was discovered soon afterward by the Norsefire company, Viadoxin. With the silent consent of the people, Norsefire turned Britain into a police state, with their leader Adam Sutler as High Chancellor. However, the virus had been engineered by Norsefire as a plot to gain power, through deadly experimentation on "social deviants" and political dissidents at Larkhillmarker detention centre. V had been one of the prisoners, but instead of being killed by the experiments, he had gained heightened mental abilities, though he lost his memories of before his incarceration. V eventually destroyed the centre and escaped, sustaining terrible burns, and vowed to take revenge on Norsefire's regime. The government officials he had been killing when he met Evey had all once worked at Larkhill, and had been subsequently retired into their new elevated positions.

As the fifth of November nears, V's schemes breed chaos in Britain and the population grows more intolerant and subversive towards government authority. On the fourth of November, Evey again visits V, who shows her a train that he has filled with explosives in order to destroy Parliament through an explosion in the abandoned London Underground. He delegates the destruction of Parliament to Evey, believing that the ultimate decision should not come from him. Evey tries to convince V not to leave and kisses his mask. He tells her he can't stay, and leaves to meet party leader Peter Creedy, who, as part of an earlier agreement, has agreed to bring V the Chancellor in exchange for V's surrender. Creedy kills the Chancellor in front of V, but V does not surrender, instead killing Creedy and his men. V, mortally wounded in the fight, returns to Evey. He tells her that he had fallen in love with her, thanks her, and then dies. She places his body upon the train with the explosives, and surrounded in Scarlet Carson roses, giving V a viking funeral.

Evey is about to send the train down the track, when she is discovered by Inspector Finch. Finch, having learned much about the corruption of the Norsefire regime, allows Evey to proceed. Meanwhile, thousands of Londoners, all wearing Guy Fawkes masks, march on Parliament to watch the event. Among these Londoners, we see the faces of those who have died, including a little girl shot by the police for wearing the mask; a pair of gay men seen in Valerie's flashback; Evey's parents and younger brother; Valerie, the lesbian prisoner in the cell next to V's whose words had given him his drive; Ruth, Valerie's partner; and Gordon Deitrich. Because Creedy and the Chancellor are dead, the British Army stands down in the face of a civil rebellion. Parliament is destroyed by the explosion, accompanied by the 1812 Overture. On a nearby rooftop, Evey and Finch watch the scene together, as she answers his question of who V was by stating he was "all of us".

Cast

  • Hugo Weaving as V: James Purefoy was originally cast as V but left six weeks into filming due to difficulties wearing the mask for the entire film. He was replaced by Hugo Weaving, who previously worked with Joel Silver and the Wachowski brothers on The Matrix Trilogy as Agent Smith. Portions of the film contain scenes with Purefoy playing V with a dubbing from Weaving.
  • Natalie Portman as Evey Hammond: Director James McTeigue first met Portman on the set of Attack of the Clones, where he worked with her as assistant director. In preparing for the role, Portman worked with dialectologist Barbara Berkery in order to perform with an English accent. She also studied films such as The Weather Underground and read the autobiography of Menachem Begin. Portman received top billing for the film. Portman's role in the film has parallels to her role as Mathilda Lando in the film Léon. According to Portman: "the relationship between V and Evey has a complication [like] the relationship in that film". Portman also had her head shaved on screen during a scene where her character is tortured.
  • Stephen Rea as Detective Chief Inspector Eric Finch: Finch is the lead inspector in the V investigation, who, during his investigation, uncovers an unspeakable government crime. Rea is no stranger to politics and terrorism, as he was once married to Dolours Price, a former member of the Provisional IRA, imprisoned for bombing the Old Baileymarker. When asked whether the politics attracted him to the film, Rea replied "Well, I don’t think it would be very interesting if it was just comic-book stuff." "The politics of it are what gives it its dimension and momentum, and of course I was interested in the politics. Why wouldn’t I be?"
  • John Hurt as High Chancellor Adam Sutler: A former Conservative MP and Under-Secretary for Defence, Chancellor Sutler was the founder of Norsefire and is the de facto dictator of Britain. Hurt acted a contrary role in another dystopian film: Winston Smith, a victim of the state in the film adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four.
  • Stephen Fry as Gordon Deitrich: Talk show host Gordon Deitrich is a closeted homosexual who, due to the restrictions of the regime, has "lost his appetite" over the years. When asked in an interview what he liked about the role, Fry replied "Being beaten up! I hadn't been beaten up in a movie before and I was very excited by the idea of being clubbed to death."
  • Sinéad Cusack as Dr. Delia Surridge: Dr. Surridge is the former head physician at the Larkhill detention centre. V states that the torture and death at Larkhill was only possible because of her research. Surridge, unlike V's other victims, feels remorse about the crimes she committed; this may explain why V gives her a painless poison, rather than a drug overdose like his other victims.
  • John Standing as Bishop Anthony James Lilliman: Lilliman is a corrupt paedophile bishop at Westminster Abbeymarker, installed into this position by Sutler. Lilliman was a Reverend at the Larkhill center. He was warned by Evey Hammond when she was undercover as a prostitute. V kills him with a drug overdose. In regards to his role as Lilliman, Standing remarks "I thoroughly enjoyed playing Lilliman... because he's slightly comic and utterly atrocious. Lovely to do."
  • Tim Pigott-Smith as Peter Creedy: Creedy is both Norsefire's party leader and the head of Britain's Secret Police, the Finger, and also the main antagonist of the film. While Sutler is the Chancellor, the real power of the regime lies with Creedy. He comes under fire when the Chancellor threatens him after he fails to stop V. In the film's climax, Creedy kills Sutler before meeting his own end when V snaps his neck.
  • Rupert Graves as Detective Sergeant Dominic Stone: Dominic is Inspector Finch's lieutenant in the V investigation.
  • Natasha Wightman as Valerie Page: Valerie, a lesbian, is one of the "social-undesirables" imprisoned by the Norsefire government. Valerie was played by Imogen Poots in flashbacks to her childhood. Her symbolic role as a victim of the state was received positively by many LGBT critics. Film critic Michael Jensen praised Valerie's scenes "not just because it is beautifully acted and well-written, but because it is so utterly unexpected [in a Hollywood film]."
  • Roger Allam as Lewis Prothero: Lewis Prothero, "The Voice of London", is a mouthpiece for the Norsefire government. He was the former Commander of the Larkhill facility. He presented a show on the BTN (in Steve Moore's novelization of the film, he is also an egomaniac and apparently addicted to illegally-obtained prescription drugs). He was killed by V. Some critics and commentators have viewed him as a parody of American right-wing pundits such as Bill O'Reilly, Morton Downey, Jr. and Rush Limbaugh.
  • Ben Miles as Roger Dascomb: Though never explicitly mentioned in the film, Dascomb is Sutler's head of the propaganda division. He defuses the bomb in the Jordon Tower. Dascomb is a junior member of the Norsefire Cabinet. His ultimate fate is unknown but he was likely either killed or incarcerated.
  • Clive Ashborn as Guy Fawkes: The story of Guy Fawkes is described in the beginning of the film and serves as the historical inspiration for V.
  • Guy Henry as Conrad Heyer: A member of Norsefire's cabinet. In the graphic novel, and in the film, he is the head of "The Eye," the visual-surveillance department. His fate is unknown but he couldn't have stayed in the Cabinet and he was presumably removed from office.
  • Eddie Marsan as Brian Etheridge: A member of Norsefire's cabinet. In both the graphic novel and film, Etheridge is the head of "The Ear," the audio-surveillance department. He oversees random audio sweeps and massive surveillance vans. He gives several reports to Sutler. Like the character of Roger Dascomb, he was probably either killed or imprisoned when Norsefire collapsed.


Development

The film was made by many of the same filmmakers involved in the Matrix trilogy. In 1988, producer Joel Silver acquired the rights to two of Alan Moore's works: V for Vendetta and Watchmen. The Wachowskis were fans of V for Vendetta and in the mid-1990s, before working on The Matrix, wrote a draft screenplay that closely followed the graphic novel. During the post-production of the second and third Matrix films, they revisited the screenplay and offered the director's role to James McTeigue. All three were intrigued by the themes of the original story and found them to be relevant to the current political landscape. Upon revisiting the screenplay, the Wachowskis set about making revisions to condense and modernize the story, while at the same time attempting to preserve its integrity and themes. James McTeigue cites the film The Battle of Algiers as his principal influence in preparing to film V for Vendetta.

Moore explicitly disassociated himself from the film due to his lack of involvement in its writing or directing, as well as due to a continuing series of disputes over film adaptations of his work. He ended cooperation with his publisher, DC Comics, after its corporate parent, Warner Bros., failed to retract statements about Moore's supposed endorsement of the film. Moore said that the script contained plot holes and that it ran contrary to the theme of his original work, which was to place two political extremes (fascism and anarchism) against one another. He argues his work had been recast as a story about "current American neo-conservatism vs. current American liberalism". Per his wishes, Moore's name does not appear in the film's closing credits. Co-creator and illustrator David Lloyd supports the film adaptation, commenting that the script is very good and that Moore would only ever be truly happy with a complete book-to-screen adaptation.

Production

V for Vendetta was filmed in London, UK, and in Potsdammarker, Germanymarker, at Babelsberg Studiosmarker. Much of the film was shot on sound stages and indoor sets, with location work done in Berlinmarker for three scenes: the Norsefire rally flashback, Larkhill, and Bishop Lilliman's bedroom. The scenes that took place in the abandoned London Underground were filmed at the disused Aldwych tube stationmarker. Filming began in early March 2005 and principal photography officially wrapped in early June 2005. V for Vendetta is the final film shot by cinematographer Adrian Biddle, who died of a heart attack on December 7, 2005.

The film was designed to have a future-retro look, with heavy use of grey tones to give a dreary, stagnant feel to totalitarian London. The largest set created for the film was the Shadow Gallery, which was made to feel like a cross between a crypt and an undercroft. The Gallery is V's home as well as the place where he stores various artifacts forbidden by the government. Some of the works of art displayed in the gallery include The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck, Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian, a Mildred Pierce poster, St. Sebastian by Andrea Mantegna, The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse and statues by Giacometti.

One of the major challenges in the film was how to bring V to life from under an expressionless mask. Thus, considerable effort was made to bring together lighting, acting, and Weaving's voice to create the proper mood for the situation. In order to prevent the mask from muffling Weaving's voice, a microphone was placed in his hairline to aid post-production, when his entire dialogue was re-recorded.

To film the final scene at Westminstermarker, the area from Trafalgar Squaremarker and Whitehallmarker up to Parliament and Big Benmarker had to be closed for three nights from midnight until 5 a.m. This was the first time the security-sensitive area (home to 10 Downing Streetmarker and the Ministry of Defence) had ever been closed to accommodate filming. Prime Minister (at the time of filming) Tony Blair's son Euan Blair worked on the film's production and is said (according to an interview with Stephen Fry) to have helped the filmmakers obtain the unparalleled filming access. This drew criticism of Blair from MP David Davis due to the content of the film. However, the makers of the film denied Euan Blair's involvement in the deal, stating that access was acquired through nine months of negotiations with fourteen different government departments and agencies.

Publicity and release

The cast and film-makers attended several press conferences that allowed them to address issues surrounding the film, including its authenticity, Alan Moore's reaction to it and its intended political message. The film was intended to be a departure from some of Moore's original themes. In the words of Hugo Weaving: "Alan Moore was writing about something which happened some time ago. It was a response to living in Thatcherite England... This is a response to the world in which we live today. So I think that the film and the graphic novel are two separate entities." Regarding the controversial political content in the film the filmmakers have said that the film is intended more to raise questions and add to a dialogue already present in society, rather than provide answers or tell viewers what to think.

The film takes extensive imagery from the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, where a group of Catholic conspirators plotted to destroy the Houses of Parliament in order to spark a revolution in England. The film was originally scheduled for release on the weekend of November 5, 2005, the 400th anniversary of the Plot, with the tag line "Remember, remember the 5th of November", taken from a traditional British rhyme memorialising the event. However, the marketing angle lost much of its value when the release date was pushed back to March 17, 2006. Many have speculated that the delay was due to the London tube bombing on July 7 and the failed July 21 bombingmarker. The film-makers have denied this, saying that the delays were due to the need for more time to finish the visual effects production. V for Vendetta had its first major premiere on February 13 at the Berlin Film Festival. It opened for general release on March 17, 2006 in 3,365 theatres in the United States, the United Kingdom and six other countries.

Music

The V for Vendetta soundtrack was released by Astralwerks Records on March 21, 2006. The original scores from the film's composer, Dario Marianelli, make up most of the tracks on the album. The soundtrack also features three vocals played during the film: "Cry Me a River" by Julie London, a cover of The Velvet Underground song, "I Found a Reason" by Cat Power and "Bird Gerhl" by Antony and the Johnsons. As mentioned in the film, these songs are samples of the 872 blacklisted tracks on V's Wurlitzer jukebox that V "reclaimed" from the Ministry of Objectionable Materials. The climax of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture appears at the end of the track "Knives and Bullets (and Cannons too)". The Overture is played at key parts at the beginning and end of the film.

Three songs were played during the ending credits which were not included on the V for Vendetta soundtrack. The first was "Street Fighting Man" by The Rolling Stones. The second was a special version of Ethan Stoller's "BKAB". In keeping with revolutionary tone of the film, excerpts from "On Black Power" by black nationalist leader Malcolm X, and from "Address to the Women of America" by feminist-writer Gloria Steinem were added to the song. Gloria Steinem can be heard saying: "This is no simple reform... It really is a revolution. Sex and race, because they are easy and visible differences, have been the primary ways of organizing human beings into superior and inferior groups and into the cheap labour on which this system still depends." The final song was "Out of Sight" by Spiritualized.

Also in the film were segments from two of Antonio Carlos Jobim's classic bossa nova songs, "The Girl From Ipanema" and "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars". These songs were played during the "breakfast scenes" with V and Deitrich and were one of the ways used to tie the two characters together. Beethoven's Symphony No.5 also plays an important role in the film, with the first four notes of the first movement signifying the letter "V" in Morse code. Gordon Deitrich's Benny Hill-styled comedy sketch of Chancellor Sutler includes the "Yakety Sax" theme. Inspector Finch's alarm clock begins the morning of November 4 with the song "Long Black Train" by Richard Hawley, which contains the foreshadowing lyrics "Ride the long black train.. take me home black train."

Themes

V for Vendetta sets the Gunpowder Plot as V's historical inspiration, contributing to his choice of timing, language and appearance. For example, the names Rokewood, Percy and Keyes are used in the film, which are also the names of three of the Gunpowder conspirators. The film creates parallels to Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, by drawing direct comparisons between V and Edmond Dantès. (In both stories, the hero escapes an unjust and traumatic imprisonment and spends decades preparing to take vengeance on his oppressors under a new persona.) The film is also explicit in portraying V as the embodiment of an idea rather than an individual through V's dialogue and by depicting him without a past, identity or face. According to the Official Website, "V’s use of the Guy Fawkes mask and persona functions as both practical and symbolic elements of the story. He wears the mask to hide his physical scars, and in obscuring his identity, V becomes more than just a man with a revolutionary idea – he becomes the idea itself":
"Beneath this mask there is more than flesh... Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof."


As noted by several critics and commentators, the film’s story and style mirrors elements from Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera. V and the Phantom both wear masks to hide their disfigurements, control others through the leverage of their imaginations, have tragic pasts, and are motivated by revenge. V and Evey’s relationship also parallels many of the romantic elements of the Phantom of the Opera, where the masked Phantom takes Christine Daaé to his subterranean lair to reeducate her.

The Norsefire regime takes totalitarian imagery from many sources, fictional and non-fictional.
As a film about the struggle between freedom and the state, V for Vendetta takes imagery from many classic totalitarian icons both real and fictional, including the Third Reich and George Orwell's 1984. For example, Adam Sutler primarily appears on large video screens and on portraits in people's homes, reminiscent of Big Brother. In another reference to Orwell's novel, the slogan "Strength through Unity. Unity through Faith" is displayed prominently across London, similar in cadence to "War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength" in Orwell's book. This connection between the two can also be seen when Evey is being tortured and finds the rat in her room, akin to that being the protagonist's worst fear in 1984 Oceania. There is also the state's use of mass surveillance, such as closed-circuit television, on its citizens. Valerie was sent to a detention facility for being a lesbian and then had medical experiments performed on her, similar to Nazi Germany's treatment during the Holocaust. The name of Adam Sutler is inspired by the name of Adolf Hitler. Sutler’s hysterical speech is also inspired from Hitler's style of speech. Norsefire has replaced St George's Cross with a national symbol similar to the Cross of Lorraine. This was a symbol used by Free French Forces during World War II, as it was a traditional symbol of French patriotism that could be used as an answer to the Nazis' Swastika. The media are also portrayed as highly subservient to government propaganda, a characteristic of totalitarian regimes in general.

Modern fears of totalitarianism

With the intention of modernizing the film, the filmmakers added topical references relevant to a modern 2006 audience. According to the Los Angeles Times, "With a wealth of new, real-life parallels to draw from in the areas of government surveillance, torture, fear mongering and media manipulation, not to mention corporate corruption and religious hypocrisy, you can't really blame the filmmakers for having a field day referencing current events." There are also references to an avian flu pandemic, as well as pervasive use of biometric identification and signal-intelligence gathering and analysis by the regime.

Many film critics, political commentators and other members of the media have also noted the numerous references in the film to events surrounding the then-current George W. Bush administration in the United Statesmarker. These include the "black bags" worn by the prisoners in Larkhill that have been seen as a reference to the black bags worn by prisoners at Abu Ghraibmarker in Iraq and in U.S.-administered Guantánamo Baymarker in Cuba, though the pre-Matrix draft of the screenplay also contains this reference to black bags. Also London is under a yellow-coded curfew alert, similar to the US Government's color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System. One of the forbidden items in Gordon's secret basement is a protest poster with a mixed U.S.–UK flag with a swastika and the title "Coalition of the Willing, To Power" which combines the "Coalition of the Willing" with Friedrich Nietzsche's concept of Will to Power. As well, there is use of the term "rendition" in the film, in reference to the way the regime removes undesirables from society. There is even a brief scene (during the Valerie flashback) that contains real-life footage of an anti-Iraq war demonstration, with mention of President George W. Bush. Finally, the film contains references to "America's war" and "the war America started" as well as real footage from the Iraq War. The film also makes a brief reference to wars in Syriamarker and Kurdistanmarker.

Despite the America-specific references, the filmmakers have always referred to the film as adding dialogue to a set of issues much broader than the U.S. administration. When James McTeigue was asked whether or not BTN was based on Fox News McTeigue replied, "Yes. But not just Fox. Everyone is complicit in this kind of stuff. It could just as well been the Britain's Sky News Channel, also a part of News Corp."

The letter V and the number 5

In his battle with Creedy, V primes his daggers into the letter "V" before throwing them.
Similar to the graphic novel, there is repeated reference to the letter “V” and the number five throughout the film. For example, V's introduction to Evey is a monologue containing 48 words beginning with the letter "V", and containing a total of 52 letter "V"s. When Evey tells V her name he repeats it slowly as "E... V". "E" is the fifth letter of the alphabet, and "V" is the fifth letter from the end of the alphabet. During his imprisonment at Larkhill, V was held in cell "V", as is Evey during her fake imprisonment. V's Zorro-like signature is also the letter "V". In the explosion involving the Old Bailey, the fireworks form a red V configuration, completed by a circular firework, thus resembling not only V but the V for Vendetta logo. It is revealed that V's favorite phrase is "By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe", which according to the film translates into the 5 "V"ed Latin phrase: "Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici". ("Veniversum" is actually written with a U, but in old Latin, the letter "U" was written as a "V.") In a dance with Evey, the song V chooses is number five on his jukebox. In fact, all the songs are song number five. When V confronts Creedy in his home, he plays Beethoven's "Fifth" Symphony, whose opening notes have a rhythmic pattern that resembles the letter "V" in Morse code(•••–). The film’s title itself is a reference to "V for Victory". As V waits for night to fall, he arranges a complex domino pattern in black and red which forms the V logo. In the battle with Creedy and his men at Victoria stationmarker, he uses five of his six daggers and forms a "V" with his daggers just before he throws them. As V throws two of his daggers at the men on either side of Creedy, the daggers form a "V" five times while spinning through the air. After V kills Creedy's men Creedy fires five shots at V. After the battle, when V is mortally wounded, he leaves a "V" signature in his own blood. After V battles Creedy the clock strikes 11:05 forming a "V" (also a reference to the 5th of November; 5/11). The destruction of Parliament results in a display of fireworks which form the letter "V", which is also an inverted Circle-A anarchist symbol.

Reception

 V for Vendetta had grossed (USD) $70,511,035 in the United States and $62,000,000 elsewhere, for a worldwide gross of $132,511,035. The film led the United States box office on its opening day, taking in an estimated $8,742,504 and remained the number one film for the remainder of the weekend, taking in an estimated $25,642,340. Its closest rival, Failure to Launch, took in $15,604,892. The film debuted at number one in the Philippinesmarker, Singaporemarker, South Korea, Swedenmarker and Taiwanmarker. Despite taking place in the UK, the film did not reach number one at the UK box office on opening weekend; instead, The Pink Panther took the number one spot. V for Vendetta also opened in 56 IMAX theaters in North America, grossing $1.36 million during the opening three days.


The critical reception of the film was positive, with Rotten Tomatoes giving the film a 73% Fresh approval. Ebert and Roeper gave the film a "two thumbs up" rating. Roger Ebert stated that V for Vendetta "almost always has something going on that is actually interesting, inviting us to decode the character and plot and apply the message where we will". Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton from At the Movies state that despite the problem of never seeing Weaving's face, there was good acting and an interesting plot, adding that the film is also disturbing, with scenes reminiscent of Nazi Germany. Jonathan Ross from the BBC blasted the film, calling it a "woeful, depressing failure" and stating that the "cast of notable and familiar talents such as John Hurt and Stephen Rea stand little chance amid the wreckage of the Wachowski siblings' dismal script and its particularly poor dialogue." Sean Burns of Philadelphia Weekly gives the film a 'D', criticising the film's treatment of its political message as being "fairly dim, adolescent stuff," as well as expressing dislike for the "barely decorated sets with television-standard overlit shadow-free cinematography by the late Adrian Biddle. The film is a visual insult." On Alan Moore removing his name from the project, Burns says "it's not hard to see why," as well as criticising Portman's performance: "Portman still seems to believe that standing around with your mouth hanging open constitutes a performance." Harry Guerin from the Irish TV network RTÉmarker states the film "works as a political thriller, adventure and social commentary and it deserves to be seen by audiences who would otherwise avoid any/all of the three". He added that the film will become "a cult favourite whose reputation will only be enhanced with age." V for Vendetta received few awards, although at the 2007 Saturn Awards Natalie Portman won the Best Actress award.

The film was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form in 2007.

Comments from political sources

V for Vendetta deals with issues of race, homosexuality, religion, totalitarianism, and terrorism. Its controversial story line and themes have, inevitably, made it the target of both criticism and praise from sociopolitical groups.

Several anarchist groups have rejected the film, while others have used it as a means to promote anarchism as a political philosophy. On April 17, 2006 the New York Metro Alliance of Anarchists protested DC Comics and Time Warner, accusing it of watering down the story’s original message in favour of violence and special effects. David Graeber, an anarchist scholar and former professor at Yale Universitymarker, was not upset by the film. "I thought the message of anarchy got out in spite of Hollywood." However, Graeber went on to state: "Anarchy is about creating communities and democratic decision making. That’s what is absent from Hollywood’s interpretation."

While the film may lack acceptance by some anarchists, it has brought renewed interest to Alan Moore's original story, as sales of the original graphic novel rose dramatically in the United States. According to Publishers Weekly, by the end of March 2006 V for Vendetta was the number one graphic novel and number four fiction trade paperback at Barnes and Noble and was the number one graphic novel and the number three book on the overall bestseller list at Amazon.com.

In addition to market anarchists, many libertarians, including members from the Mises Institute and LewRockwell.com, see the film as a positive depiction in favour of a free society with a reduced government and free enterprise. They cite the state's terrorism as being of greater evil and rationalized by its political machinery, while V's acts are seen as "terroristic" because they are done by a single individual. Justin Raimondo, the libertarian editor of Antiwar.com, praised the film for its sociopolitical self-awareness and saw the film's success as "helping to fight the cultural rot that the War Party feeds on".

In the United States, a few radical Christian groups attacked the film for its portrayal of Christianity and sympathetic portrayal of rebellion. Ted Baehr, chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission, called V for Vendetta "a vile, pro-terrorist piece of neo-Marxist, left-wing propaganda filled with radical sexual politics and nasty attacks on religion and Christianity". Don Feder, a conservative columnist, has called V for Vendetta "the most explicitly anti-Christian movie to date" that "combines all of the celluloid left’s paranoid fantasies". Film critic Richard Roeper dismissed these sentiments on the television show Ebert and Roeper saying that V's terrorist label is applied in the movie "by someone who's essentially Hitler, a dictator."

Meanwhile, LGBT commentators have praised the film for its positive depiction of gays, with writer Michael Jensen calling the film "one of the most pro-gay ever". Conservative Kevin Wilson of World Net Daily, referred to the film as "neo-Marxist, homosexual-promoting pagan gibberish".

David Walsh from the World Socialist Web Site criticizes V's actions as "antidemocratic" and cites the film as an example of "the bankruptcy of anarcho-terrorist ideology" stating that because the people have not played any part in the revolution, they will be unable to produce a "new, liberated society."

Differences between the film and graphic novel

For more information, see V for Vendetta.
The film's story was adapted from an Alan Moore graphic novel originally published between 1982 and 1985 in the British comic anthology Warrior, and then reprinted and completed by DC. These comics were later compiled into a graphic novel and published again in the United States under DC's Vertigo imprint and in the United Kingdom under Titan Books.

There are several fundamental differences between the film and the original source material. For example, the comic is set in the 1990s, while the film is set in the near future (sometime between 2028 and 2038): Alan Moore's original story was created as a response to British Thatcherism in the early 80s and was set as a conflict between a fascist state and anarchism, whereas the film's story has been changed by the Wachowskis to fit a modern political context. Alan Moore charges that in doing so, the story has turned into an American-centric conflict between liberalism and neo-conservatism, and abandons the original anarchist-fascist themes. Moore states, "There wasn't a mention of anarchy as far as I could see. The fascism had been completely defanged. I mean, I think that any references to racial purity had been excised, whereas actually, fascists are quite big on racial purity." Furthermore, in the original story, Moore attempted to maintain moral ambiguity, and not to portray the fascists as caricatures, but as realistic, rounded characters. The time limitations of a film meant that the story had to omit or streamline some of the characters, details, and plotlines from the original story. Chiefly, whereas the original graphic novel has the fascists elected legally and kept in power through the general apathy of the public, the film introduces the "St. Mary's virus," a biological weapon engineered and released by the Norsefire party as a means of clandestinely gaining control over their own country.

Many of the characters from the graphic novel underwent significant changes for the film. For example, V is characterized in the film as a romantic freedom fighter who shows concern over the loss of innocent life. However, in the graphic novel, he is portrayed as ruthless, willing to kill anyone who gets in his way. Evey Hammond's transformation as V's protégée is also much more drastic in the novel than in the film. At the beginning of the film, she is already a confident woman with a hint of rebellion in her, whereas in the graphic novel she starts off as an insecure, desperate young woman forced into prostitution. V and Evey's relationship, though not as obvious in the book, ends in the film with pledges of love. In the graphic novel's finale, she not only carries out V's plans as she does in the film, but also clearly takes on V's identity. Whereas in the film Inspector Finch sympathizes with V, in the graphic novel he is determined to stop V and goes as far as taking LSD in order to enter into a criminal's state of mind. Characters who were completely omitted from the film or had a significantly reduced role include Rose Almond, Alistair Harper, and Mrs. Heyer.
The graphic novel's main villains also underwent changes in the film adaptation. While the Chancellor within Moore's text is a brutal dictator, he is also a lonely, socially inept man who truly believes in fascism, and, in the end, wishes merely to be accepted and loved by his people. The film, however, presents none of these human qualities. Creedy, meanwhile, evolves from a relatively minor character in the graphic novel to one of the chief characters of the film adaptation; in the film, he is revealed to have been the brains behind the bioterror attack that Norsefire used to seize power. His personality is also somewhat revamped in the film; whereas he is a coarse, petty opportunist in the graphic novel, in the film he is an icy sociopath whom V calls "a man seemingly without a conscience, for whom the ends always justify the means."

The setting and plot of the film were also changed from the original story. Whereas the film only mentions the United States' civil war and collapse, in the graphic novel, it is mentioned that a global nuclear war has destroyed much of the world outside of Britain. With a nuclear winter causing famine and massive flooding, there is a real fear that a collapse of the Norsefire government would lead to disaster. Whereas the film ends in a relatively peaceful overthrow, in the graphic novel there is a violent collapse of authority. Other differences include the computer system "Fate", which is completely missing from the film. (In the original story, Fate was a Big Brother-like computer which served as Norsefire's eyes and ears and also helped explain how V could see and hear the things he did.) V's terrorist targets are also different in the graphic novel, as he destroys Parliament and the Old Bailey in the beginning, and destroys 10 Downing Streetmarker for the finale.

Home media

V for Vendetta was released on DVD in the US on August 1, 2006 in three formats: a single-disc wide-screen version, a single-disc full-screen version, and a two-disc wide-screen special edition. DVD sales were successful, selling 1,412,865 DVD units in the first week of release which translated to $27,683,818 in revenue. So far, 3,086,073 DVD units have been sold bringing in just more than its budget- $58,342,597. The single disc versions contain a short (15:56) behind-the-scenes featurette titled "Freedom! Forever! Making V for Vendetta" and the film's theatrical trailer, whereas the two-disc special edition contains three additional documentaries, and several extra features for collectors. On the second disc of the special edition, a short Easter egg clip of Natalie Portman on Saturday Night Live can be viewed by selecting the picture of wings on the second page of the menu. The film has also been released on the HD DVD high definition format, which features a unique 'in-movie experience' created exclusively for the disc. Warner Bros. later released the video on Blu-Ray, on May 20, 2008. The Movie also saw release on Sony's PSP UMD Format.

Tie-ins

Books

The Moore/Lloyd graphic novel was re-released as a hardback collection in October 2005 to tie into the film's release (originally November 5, 2005).

A novelisation of the film was written by Steve Moore (although the two Moores are often linked, they are not related), based on the Wachowski Brothers' script and released in January, 2006.
  • Moore, Steve, V for Vendetta (Pocket Star, Jan 31, 2006) ISBN 1416516999


A behind-the-scenes book was written by Wachowski-collaborator Spencer Lamm (Lamm produced much of the content of TheMatrix.com; edited The Art of The Matrix and volumes of The Matrix comics, and is also involved in the Brothers' Burlyman Entertainment comics venture) and published in August, 2006.
  • Lamm, Spencer, V for Vendetta: From Script to Film (Universe, August 22, 2006) ISBN 0789315033


A philosophical analysis of the film related to the political theories of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes was performed by Dean A. Kowalski (editor of The Philosophy of the X-Files and Steven Spielberg & Philosophy).
  • Kowalski, Dean A., "R for Revolution: Hobbes and Locke on Social Contracts and Scarlet Carsons" in Joseph J. Foy (ed.) Homer Simpson Goes to Washington: American Politics through Popular Culture (University Press of Kentucky, 2008) ISBN 978-0-8131-2512-1


CDs

A soundtrack CD featuring music from the film was released by Astralwerks on Mar 21, 2006. Alongside Dario Marianelli's score are songs by Julie London, Cat Power and Antony and the Johnsons. The final track (by Marianelli), "Knives and Bullets (and Cannons Too)", incorporates the pivotal piece of music from the film which is Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.

David J's 1983 "soundtrack" to the V for Vendetta comic was re-released on June 13, 2006 to tie into the film. Moore approached David J for help with setting "The Vicious Cabaret" (an episode of the comic which takes the form of a fully-scored musical piece) to music. J also wrote other musical pieces inspired by the comic series.

Other

As well as promotional items created to publicise the film (which included a shoulder bag and bust of "V"'s Guy Fawkes mask), replicas of the mask and action figures were released. Figures released by NECA include a 12-inch (30 cm) action figure which speaks phrases from the film, a 12-inch resin statue and a seven-inch (17 cm) figure.

Semi-official V costumes have been created for Halloween. These range from the full costume of cape, hat, mask and dagger-belt, to various individual aspects — gloves, hat, mask, hair, and daggers. All are available both separately and in combinations.

Anti-Scientology protestors claiming affiliation to the Internet-based group Anonymous used V Guy Fawkes masks during demonstrations against Scientology in 2008 and 2009.

References

External links




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