Just got back from watching the movie adaptation of V for Vendetta. I have mixed feelings but it was enjoyable and a lot better than I had feared it might be especially given my feelings for the previous adaptation of a comic that was close to my heart Hellblazer which became the painful Constantine.
I thought that Hugo Weaving was very powerful as V and Stephen Rea did a great job as Inspector Finch. Natalie Portman was merely adequate as Evey and her accent was not as awful as some have written but she was a little wooden in her performance. I thought Stephen Fry was remarkably good also, other characters such as Chancellor Sutler were too poorly written to allow much from the other actors in the cast.
The movie lasted two hours and yet it felt like a lot had been edited out. There was very little characterisation outside of the central few main characters all the others seemed like stereotypes painted in broad strokes. Some events such as what happened that night at Larkhill which enabled V to escape were glossed over as was Finch’s visit to the derelict Larkhill.
I think the general mood of the film was established well, it was visually stunning and there were a number of very powerful scenes especially the fingerman’s shooting of the girl and the subsequent uprising of the townspeople.
In many ways the movie felt like it was set in some parallel universe version of Britain rather than a dystopic near future of our own Britain, possibly due to it being an American production. The Britain of the movie was very twee and a little off, Rupert Graves as a copper using the word “chummy” when apprehending V, eggy in a basket and the Benny Hillesque TV satirical attack on the Chancellor.
A number of things in the movie make me feel like the points of the original graphic novel were lost or misunderstood by the writers. V was too overly made to be identified with Guy Fawkes who in the introductory scene is portrayed as a freedom fighter rather than the religious nutcase that he actually was. I thought that the Guy Fawkes mask in the graphic novel was a useful disguise which was merely appropriate given the date of key events in the story and a shared interest in blowing up public buildings. But the motivations of V and Guy Fawkes are in no way the same.
In fact Guy Fawkes has more in common with the Islamic fundamentalist terrorists our society is being made to fear at the moment. The character of V is different but is no hero either really he is a force for change through destruction, rebirthing society by destroying it’s institutions so something better can be born out of the ashes.
The surveillance aspects were altered and there was no sight of surveillance cameras in the movie odd given their ubiquitousness in modern Britain and given the totalitarianism surely there should be even more in evidence. Plus the populace do not seem cowed by the authorities, living in constant fear of speaking out of turn. Certainly this so called dystopia is to my eyes a lot deal better than we can really hope to expect several years down the line from now once we have a National Identity Register, cameras that can scan our faces to identify us and track our movements and legislation that gives the ruling party pretty much free reign to do whatever it wishes.