Sunday, March 26, 2006

Alternate Realities

Without ever having read the graphic novel, I can immediately tell which parts in V For Vendetta were created purely for Hollywood standards and which parts were made with the graphic novel in mind. And while I was never pleased with the previous adaptations of Alan Moore’s work (see From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) I will have to say that this might just be one of the more uncompromising adaptations that has been made. But then again, the storyline itself was never for the fainthearted, nor for the unintelligent. While Norman and I were walking out of the cinema after the show, we heard one of the girls in the audience complain, “I didn’t like that at all.”

For the comics purists, I understand completely why they made a stand in refusing to watch the film – yes, it was definitely sanitized to become more palatable for the audience. But at the same time, I admire the balls it must have taken to even produce a film that openly criticizes the way a government is run, and touches on so many current socio-political issues that are present today. V For Vendetta follows a masked vigilante terrorizing an oppressive Neo-Nazi British government, and how fear and apathy forces a collective to meekly accept something at face value without questioning the truth behind the farce. It criticizes everything from history to mass media, from intolerance and racism to a government that, while fictional, approximates the possibility more closely than what one would be comfortable with. It is, to borrow an approximation of how Gaiman described the Corinthian, a dark mirror to humanity.

I suppose what really horrified me were the echoes of Nazism and the Hitler-inspired character of the High Chancellor. Even the way the particular shots were set up, and the images used were reminiscent of the footage we have of Auschwitz-Birkenau, of the Axis forces and their military strength, and in particular the detention center that was set up like a concentration camp. Even the ruthlessness of those in power, of those high-ranking officials who committed such atrocious crimes, those whose excuses were Machiavellian – it just hits so close to home. We are on the brink of chaos as well. Our government is pretending to play a game that it is frightened of winning. Once the prominent opposition is brought down, the people will follow. Even our fight for freedom is a farce already. And there is no mysterious figure wearing a mask to save us. All we are waiting for is an inevitable anarchy. And this is what separates fact from fiction. V For Vendetta is a cautionary tale for those who are willing to listen. Unfortunately for us, we have already turned away even before the opening credits have rolled.

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