The Terryfing Ideas of Change in V for Vendetta

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

Politician Jerry Brown once said, “Where there is a sufficient social movement of self-reliant communities, there can be political change. There must be political change.” V for Vendetta (2006) originated from a graphic novel written by Allan Moore and is set in a dystopian Great-Britain where a facist government has taken hold of the public due to a world at war. This government is run by a totalitarian high chancellor by the name of Adam Sutler (John Hurt). Adam Sutler overthrew Great Britain through an opportunistic siege at the beginning of the war. He has maintained power through the use of propaganda and the manipulation of the mass media which all stem from the idea that the public must live in fear. Fear produces loyalty, and loyalty maintains power in a tyrannical government such as this one. In the midst of corruption, there is one man that plots for decades on the idea of social and political change and his name is V (Hugo Weaving). V presents himself as more than a person but rather an idea. The idea that the government’s deceit and lies must be brought to the surface and revolutionary acts that unite the people must occur to do so (McTeigue 2006). V for Vendetta is a film that promotes the idea that the people must be united to bring change when the government fails to. It alters the notion of a pathway to a utopia and continuously promotes the message that society can only function through the unity and compliance of its people. They are the only ones that can truly instill change.

When Adam Sutler came to power, the mass population in Britain began to be restrained by various acts of violence and restrictions put on them by the government. A lot of the terror was portrayed as a way for the country to unite under the circumstances of the war. Sutler, along with his colleagues, proposed and enforced the slogan, “Strength through unity, unity through faith” (McTeigue 2006). Propaganda played a central role in forming citizens perception of the things that were occuring in the government and in the country overall. The government/media used the people’s fear of disease, war, and terror as a way to manipulate the country into compliance. The society gained a newfound sense of loyalty for the people that were seemingly protecting them. Thus, leading the masses to be blindsided by many vicious acts that were occurring. For example, Sutler at the beginning of his reign, imposed laws and brute force on homosexuals, religion, and anyone that disagreed with his ideology. These actions set forth a new quota on what would and what would not be allowed under Sutler’s ruling. The media only further fuelled Sutler’s control, and provided citizens with radical points of view that were in accordance to the governments.

With the above information in mind, the film began with the introduction of Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) being saved by our future hero V. From the moment V met Evey, he began to incorporate her as a future accomplice. This eventually became futile as Evey still very much lived in fear of the world. Evey’s parents were political activists, and we later come to find out that her parents were imprisoned in the same place as V. V makes it his mission to free her from this fear, much like he plans to do with population, while acting out the government’s downfall. As the film progresses, we witness many striking scenes that begin to alter our understandings of V’s character. We witness V grow a newfound respect for Evey, and see how this inherently alters his previous motives for a revolution. Before, V was seemingly a man scorned and wronged by his government. For reasons unknown, V was one of the many people who were thrown into prison and tortured at the beginning of Sutler’s reign. During his imprisonment, his humanity was stripped down and the hatred for the government and what they had done only festred through the years. The prison finally burned down, and V survived and was left with ghastly burns. It can be noted that when his plan originated it was out of anger for what the government did to him, and everyone else imprisoned or killed at the time. Although when he met Evey, he began to understand that this was not only for himself, but for a new start for the continuing generations after. This explains the torture he put Evey through as well as how he wanted to give her the truth behind his life. Show her the full potential that Sutler had refrained her from reaching. She was the last piece in the revolution because she embodied the future, and the idea of all that was to come. V gave her the opportunity to show that this was not just his fight, but everyone in all of Great Britain. Despite people inherent differences, this was a time for them all to come together. Everyone had a part to play, “He was Edmond Dantes. And he was my father, and my mother, my brother, my friend. He was you and me. He was all of us” (McTeigue 2006).

V for Vendetta is a film that is and was very divided by the public during its release. It is thought of as a commentary that illustrates the connections between government, art, media, and the common public. V frequently references different artifacts or things that have been stripped away from humanity by Sutler as well as the loss society faces without these pieces of self expression. He passed down these thoughts and beliefs to Evey throughout the entire film to exhibit the power people have when they are allowed the ability to think and express. “Our masters have not heard the people’s voice for generations and it is much, much louder than they care to remember” (McTeigue 2006). The ability to think leads to the ability to make an idea. Ideas are dangerous in a government such as this one because they can break the very foundation on which it lies upon, creating a revolution.

It is, at this point, where people see differently on the way that V went about handling/initiating that revolution. For example, V’s thoughts were on the grounds that violence needed to be fought by violence. He believed that this was not only punishment to the perpetrators, but the only soluble way to create a reaction amongst the people. A review written by Jeff Hicks analyzed the works of Paik and Paik’s thoughts on this form of revolution in relation to political theology. Paik believed and supported the fact that revolutionary leaders in fictional pieces, such as V, were put in place to redirect the present established society. He challenges the notion that revolutions can be undergone without any acts of violence. Paik states that the purpose of revolutionaries, “serve to unmask with unflinching directness the brutal impact of the world-making projects of its demiurges as well as the harsh necessities that call forth these undertakings in the first place.” (qt. in Hicks 139). It goes to show that certain actions in the film by revolutionaries, although violent, are necessary for the circumstances being portrayed in the society at the time. The public in these cases needs a shock to be able to truly observe the actions of the tyranny that is enslaving them to a degree.

V’s main goal was to eliminate that compliance and finally uncover the lies that were portrayed for years. The lies that ruined his own life and many lives after. For those that promote the idea that V was just inherently a terrorist, it can be seen by the film that his actions were primarily for the enlightenment of others. If we take a look at the torturing of Evey, certain governmental buildings being blown up, and the murders of those in power. Much of this stemmed from V trying to eliminate the ideologies that had been instilled in the citizens of Great Britain. It was all done in order to set them free. This all is in relation to the true utopian message that this film promotes, unity and freedom. V for Vendetta is a film that not only counterattacks the road leading to a true utopia by showing the violence that goes into the process, but promotes a way of life that can be truly viable for everyone in that society. It gives the citizens the ability to unite under the pretence that the ideas and courage of a group is more powerful and more substantial than one person. It is critical for the progression of a sovereign and fair society to have the voices of everyone heard including those that are younger. As shown in V for Vendetta, if there is not a united force there can be no active change in any government, and things will only get progressively worse.

Arguments such as Paik’s which commend V for his somewhat violent actions on the account that they are necessary are fairly rare in comparison to other reviews. Reviews from various media outlets brutally criticize V’s actions as being destructive and “celebratory of terrorism” (“Blowup”). Others point out that V is not only acting out of spiteful vengeance over what the government has done to him, but his torturing of Every proves to be inherently disturbing and immoral. Many critics of the film note the mass influence dystopian films such as this one have on our own society. They fear that this kind of “glorification” of violence could promote the idea that destruction and chaos are the only method in solving a seemingly corrupt government. I believe that movies like V for Vendetta are an incredible example of the true impact a corrupt government can have on the fate of a country with the use of media and manipulation. The films allusions to the abusement of propaganda gives viewers the opportunity to reflect on how those in power use the media to get into the head’s of its people. It is important to note that this is a significant problem in our own world now. Critics use this tactic even when writing reviews of the movie itself. Denby illustrated this several times his piece by saying, “And the movie’s sullen, chain-clanking atmosphere connects with punk, Goth, grunge, and all the doomy tones of white teen rock for the past three decades. For aging kids stoned on pop rapture, it could be a trip” (Denby 2017). Denby’s review calls to question the intent of filmmakers when making this film, and discredits the audience’s reaction to the story itself. He frames it as a way for McTeigue to make note of our own society and manipulate younger generations that do not have the ability to separate fact from fiction (Denby 2017) In my opinion, this comes of as inherently ill-informed of younger generations ability to relate films such as this one to their everyday lives. Younger generations need this kind of stimulation in order to bring them into the conversation, and have their voices heard.

Dystopian films can be a radical version of the truth, but it is often an attempt to stimulate a conversation about what is actually occurring in our own lives. Things like politics and war can often be misconstrued to fit a certain agenda. These past few decades have shown us the division that is apparent in our own government and how that has taken its toll on citizens. The two primary parties in the United States are constantly at war with each others ideology (Forans 2017). Which leads to each group trying to push everyone to their side through the use of propaganda and the media. Over the years, we have witnessed the backlash that has taken place as well as the division it has placed on the general population. An article by The Atlantic illustrates this perfectly: The more that Americans’ social lives and identity become intertwined with partisan beliefs, the more pressure people will face to adopt partisan viewpoints rather than risk alienating close friends and their broader social network. That dynamic is likely one reason why Gallup found in 2015 that college-educated Republicans were more likely than less educated Republicans to say that the threat of global warming has been exaggerated, despite warnings from the scientific community that the harmful impacts of climate change are already underway (Foran 2017). There is a purpose for films, art and literature to relate to events that are being dealt with in our real world. Works such as V for Vendetta are an illustration of something that most can agree on that we never want our society and lives to imitate what the citizens lives were like in the movie. The above quote can give you and idea of the path we are already on.

Ultimately, V for Vendetta is a captivating but violent example of the changes that can be made in a government through the ideas and courage of one person. It promotes the utopian ideology of true freedom and for citizens to have the right to control their own lives as well as the state in which live in. I believe that dystopian influences such as this give our society an image of how radical things can truly get if we do not advocate for human rights and what we believed in above governmental power. V is a mere representation of the impact citizens are able to have over their government. He embodies the idea that utopias are often different for everyone. The one true goal for any society is to be irrevocably equal for everyone involved, and nothing should ever come close to jeopardizing that.


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