V for Vendetta (the movie): pretty much Hollywood crap as usual, although the anti-Bush and anti-religious right themes are bracing. I'm glad it's a hit if it means people are scared where our new Cotton Mathers are taking us. [Spoilers coming.] The first half sailed along but after Evey is taken into custody by the Finger it took too many shortcuts and liberties with Alan Moore's story and stopped being believable. The mushy movie types were hurt that Moore repudiated the film but good for him! He proved that it's possible to make a strong political argument that's nuanced and intelligent using comic book tropes and they set about disproving him with their usual poll-tested conventional wisdoms. Am re-reading the comic to get the movie out of my brain. Will post some key differences as I read, so this blog entry will change.

In the comic, nuclear explosions have destroyed Europe and Africa. Fascism emerges in England after civil society devolves into chaos. Everyone is poor. Evey is a hooker-in-training and works in a match factory.

In the movie, people have nice TVs and computers, with slick interfaces. Evey is an aspiring actress with smart clothes who works at a TV station. Upper middle class wish fulfullment--a promise to the audience that can never be broken.

The whole "I will return in one year to blow up the Houses of Parliament" schtick is a movie plot contrivance. In the book V destroys Parliament in the first chapter, and destroys Downing Street a year later, unannounced.

Another movie contrivance (probably in Ms. Portman's star contract)--the heroine tries to escape V. In the book she is 16 and much more dependent on him; she stays with him in his lair even after she knows he is a killler.

In the book V is an experimental subject in a concentration camp (as in the movie)--he is driven insane from drug injections and develops godlike powers, including a "strange ability to control people." The whole "developing the virus in the camp" subplot is the filmmakers' hackneyed invention.

Plotwise the film was very confusing leading up to the "blowing up of Parliament." V did all that by shipping around some masks? In the book we learn he had secret access to Fate, the government's main computer array. Well, the masks certainly made for a nice MTV video moment of thousands marching up to Parliament dressed as Guy Fawkes.

In the book V's mischief is the dominant story in a series of interlocking tales about life under a fascist regime, centering on people heading the various government departments--their compromises, betrayals, vices, and tawdry love affairs. It's a very adult "comic." The movie is a juvenile, Beauty and the Beast tale, with simplistic politics.

At the end of the movie, V professes his love for Evey. Just like a Tom Cruise film--a heel learns the healing power of love. V makes the declaration halfway through the book, after he has tortured Evey for months in a fake prison. It's totally creepy--his ideas of freedom and love are Est-like, as coercive and fascistic as the government's. There's none of this "until I met you I thought violence was the only way..." crapola.

In fairness to Moore, his V is a complex character and the book is filled with his thoughts and soliliquys on the "two faces of anarchy" (creator and destroyer). At the end mob violence has returned to the street and it's by no means clear what will replace the authoritarian edifice he has tipped over. In the film the message is Yea! Freedom! Boo! Slavery! which makes the Wachowskis the Tinseltown liberal version of Bush. Spare me from films with "life-affirming values"!

- tom moody 3-22-2006 5:39 am

AND the movie wasn't even fun to look at! I was taken aback at how crappy it was.

- joester 3-22-2006 5:48 am

Yeah, starting with the Guy Fawkes for Dummies intro--I thought it was still the trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean 2.
- tom moody 3-22-2006 5:56 am

During the detention sequences, I heard someone in the audience say "Abu Ghraib". I'm wondering if those sequences will get anyone to think, "Gosh, perhaps torture is evil."

Haven't seen the comic, but have to concur that the plot had some major issues.

I did like the "Coalition of the Willing to Power" poster in Deitrich's vault.
- mark 3-22-2006 6:00 am

The main thing it had going for it was the anti-Bush subtext. It still feels transgressive in Fascist Amerika. Plotwise it was very confusing leading up to the "blowing up of Parliament." He did all that by shipping around some masks? And I know from experience what happens when huge crowds turn out in the streets of the Metropolis--nothing, just people getting preeemptively arrested. The movie's faith in the power of the popular uprising is charming.
- tom moody 3-22-2006 6:18 am

Speaking of mass arrests, I know someone who was one of the 10,000. They didn't see it coming.
- mark 3-22-2006 9:15 am

I read a review that said something like, if you're still on the fence about weather the Nazis were good or bad, then this is the movie for you. I wanted the big brother character to be more Bush-like than Hitler-like. His idea of control was to yell at everyone - it seemed so 1950's.
I came out of the movie wondering why they needed to blow up the building at all? the army was on their side, they'd already killed the head guy and his number two. If I hadn't seen the commercial I'd have thought they were not going to do it, that might have been sorta interesting. But they had to give us eye candy at the end.
Oh, and did anyone else find the post destruction fireworks really offensive? Wee, I'm making blowing up buildings fun for the kids!

- joester 3-22-2006 8:52 pm

Yeah, it's hard not to think of CNN during shock and awe with Wolf Blitzer yelling "Oh my god! Look at that one!" like a kid on the Fourth of July. Pardon me, but fuck that shit.

The book comparisons aren't entirely fair--they're different media, with different logics, blah blah--but indulge me in another one: Unlike the yelling big screen John Hurt, Moore's Leader rarely appears on TV. He is addicted to his computer array, watching, watching all day. Halfway throught the book, V makes the words I LOVE YOU suddenly appear on the screen. The Leader thinks the computer loves him, and begins a slow spiral into madness. It works better in the comic than this description, and is WAY better than the infantilizing footage of Hurt.

- tom moody 3-22-2006 9:39 pm

The formula developed by the Republicans, having a friendly spokesmodel (i.e., Reagan, G.W. Bush) as a front for their machine, is beguiling and seems to work pretty well for 51% of the populace.

"He is addicted to his computer array, watching, watching all day. "

Hmmm ... uh, I should get back to work ...

- mark 3-22-2006 11:43 pm

So V, love that Beth Orton on your Juke Box...
- anonymous (guest) 12-06-2006 5:10 am

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