Thursday, February 22, 2007

Commenting on the paradox of asking a man in a mask who he is

V For Vendetta is an interesting movie. Its definitely stylish and Hugo Weaving is awesome as the charming V, and is eminently quotable. Yet Alan Moore is not known for simple entertainment, and the movie is above all else, thought provoking.

Obviously the ruling regime of this dystopian England is a totalitarian is horribly oppressive and corrupt. And yet… despite V’s charms and just intentions, there is something absolutely unsettling about him. Its not the mask, its not the horribly burnt origin and lack of identity either, those are pitiable traits in his favor.

The thing that’s unsettling about V is that, under all of that Romance and bravado, he is as insane as the regime he wants to bury. He is a murderer, arsonist and demagogue. He subjects Evey to absolutely brutal psychological torment. He has good intentions, and certainly good motivations, but even he realizes by the end of the movie that he is just as much a monster as his enemies. There’s something about British comic characters being anti-heroes (see Judge Dredd. Just don‘t see Judge Dredd starring Stallone), and that’s in effect here as well. He does a lot of cool stuff, but when you deconstruct the character, he’s a lot less likable and a lot more disturbing. Gordon and Finch are definitely closer to real heroes than V, but they don’t wear masks or quip witty dialogue, so they don’t get the knee-jerk sympathy of the audience.
To my mind, a good movie is one that hangs with you some time after it ends. Either you get so wrapped up in the characters that your mind wanders to thoughts of “what happens next?” and “well what if this happened?” or you get drawn into the ideas thrown out by the movie. V For Vendetta accomplishes that.

And of course there’s a bald Natalie Portman for half of the movie for those of you who like that sort of thing.

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