Ah, V. What a tale.
V for Vendetta has a special place in my heart because I lived through the events that made it. The graphic novel was written by Alan Moore during the turbulent years of Thatcher’s Britain. As the son of a miner, it spoke directly to my heart. The late 70s/early 80s was a time of fear and oppresion where common man clashed with police, where the government was the enemy and a totalitarian state was just around the corner.
And thus, V for Vendetta was born.
The original graphic novel told a story set a scant 20 years on from the 1980s where Thatcher’s Britain reached a natural conclusion with a fascist state controling the media, operating curfews and serving propaganda for breakfast, dinner and tea. The enigmatic V wages a personal war against the people who wronged him, and along the way topples the government and inspires the nation. He saves Evey from death (and worse), and she becomes his protege of sorts. The movie follows the story fairly closely, simply moving events forward another 15 years.
What’s scariest about V for Vendetta is just how relevent it is today as it was back in the dark days of the 80s. The paralells between Thatcher’s Britain and the US under Bush are stark, especially under the microscope of V for Vendetta. There’s the same paranioa, the same blind belief in the government by many folks, and the same vehement opposition by others. There’s the same steady steps toward a police state, and the same increase in oppressive power. I’m sure anyone who’s walked through an Airport lobby in the US will agree.
What makes V for Vendetta so brilliant is the writing. It intertwines the story of what made V with his personal vendetta, always providing just enough information to maintain the sympathy for his actions. V represents everything that’s artistic and beautiful about humanity, an unkillable core rising against the stark control of the authority which tries to ban it all. Even when V does finally die, his legacy lives on through Evey and all those who rose up.
As with Sin City it’s a pretty violent tale, though it’s not quite so brutal. Where V meets out just vengeance to his enemies, the protagonists in Sin City torture and destroy them. Of the two, V for Vendetta is slighty more comfortable reading.