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Revolution and Romance

In: English and Literature

Submitted By freekit
Words 1575
Pages 7
Michael Bennett Page 1
Dr. Alla Boldina
ENG 110-60


Creedy: “Why won’t you die!?”
V: “Beneath this mask is more than flesh…there are ideas. And ideas are bulletproof.”
With these words, the film, “V for Vendetta” dramatically demonstrates the power of ideas to challenge and overcome the evil of oppression. In film critic Robert Ebert’s review of “V for Vendetta,” he notes the power of ideas, especially the belief that people should not be afraid of their governments, but rather that governments should be afraid of their people. Although Ebert questions the necessity of fear, and believes that governments and people should be able to happily co-exist, I think he trivializes the significance of the film’s message. Although it is an in-depth, well written look at the story, it is one-sided. He gives credit to a novel written by Allen Moore in 1983, on which the film is based, and compares “V for Vendetta” to other movies and stories. The main character, V, is described in detail, and Ebert explains his purpose in the story. The other characters, however, are not mentioned very much, leaving the reader a bit blank. I appreciate that he mentions the main idea of the film, and is generous with quotations. I do fin d his criticism a bit excessive, as he puts down the mask that V wears because the lips don’t move and his vision would be obstructed. Ebert seems biased on behalf of London’s architecture, as he expresses his disappointment over its destruction. He does admit to not reading the original work, so he cannot compare notes. In all, he gives the film a positive review, explaining its controversial nature: “To attempt a parable about terrorism and totalitarianism that would be relevant and readable, might be impossible, could be dangerous and would probably not be box office.” I think this film tells a story of man’s journey through life, death and rebirth. The main character, V, masks his facial burns from a jail fire, where he was tortured and brutalized. The mask becomes not
Page 2 only a cover for his physical disfigurement, but a symbol of his loss of individual identity as he seems to experience a rebirth of purpose. His journey of revenge in search of justice is violent , although justified. At one point V says that violence can be used for good…for justice. I think the film is unrelenting in its message that powerful ideas can change people. The main character, V, justifies the use of violence in the search for justice, especially in a world overrun by oppressive governments. However, by the end of the film, V has discovered that, although ideas can change the world, ideas ultimately do not love, nor feel pain. It is humanness, not the idea, that sacrifices for others; that experiences the freedom from fear that is able to risk change; that realizes the connections among all forms of life, as evidenced in EV’s admission, “I’d rather die,” as she goes out into the rain, and experiences revelation: “God’s in the rain!” The film’s plot contrasts the interests of a conservative, totalitarian government in London, with the people’s desire for freedom, as symbolized through the main character, V. The citizens are portrayed as couch potatoes, glued to their televisions. Suddenly the main character, V, emerges and blows up the famous building, Old Bailey, introducing his strategic plan for revolution. It is significant that the date is November 5, the date when a seventeenth century revolutionary, Guy Fawkes, was hung. V invites the public, on a television broadcast, to join with him in making Fawkes’ goal come true: to blow up parliament. Throughout the film, V hunts down and kills the people who have experimented on him while he was jailed, and who created a virus that killed thousands of people. At this point, his motivation is revenge, not only for himself, but also for the death of Valerie, a prisoner whose letter he found in his cell. Inspired by her words of encouragement, he had escaped. His journey took him through the fire, which not only burned his skin, but transformed his spirit. Fearless, V is unstoppable. It isn’t hard to identify with V’s motivation for revenge. But one must be careful that, in slaying the dragon, one doesn’t become the dragon. As if by divine intervention, V is saved by a young woman, EV, even as he saves her life first. Bringing her into his home, he shares a deep connection with EV,
Page 3 especially his vulnerability. Keeping her prisoner in his home until he can complete his mission, he asks her to help him, and she agrees, as one who has also experienced oppression. It’s interesting to watch V evolve through his relationship with EV. She wants to know who V is. She wants to see behind his mask, but V is never willing or able to remove it. He responds that who he was died in the jail. But even as V changed as a result of his love for EV, he gave EV the gift of fearlessness: by creating an illusion of jail and forcing EV to look death in the face, she experienced real freedom. At times this film seemed unrealistic: things just fell into place too perfectly. I had to view it in the abstract, focusing on the message and symbols of transformation, which were inspiring and revelatory. There were, however, many symbols, and symbolism can be understood in many different ways. V wears the mask of a revolutionary character from the past. The mask seems to symbolize many things in the film, such as the death and rebirth of the character, as he changes and transforms. When V was captured and burned in the jail during his escape, the mask covers his wounded face. I think the mask represents the death of his individual identity and priorities, in service to the birth of a greater purpose…a new revolutionary idea for society. When V mass-mails masks to the public for them to wear on the 5th of November, the date for the final act, I think the masks become symbolic of unity, of speaking with one voice, while remaining individually anonymous. I found the film very intellectual and I did get confused at times, feeling overwhelmed by all the back stories. However, as I watched the film multiple times, I was able to understand more of the message. The attention to detail was intense, as I focused on each character’s journey. To me, the story is insightful and politically rich. It connects personally righteous, rebellious ideas with social justice, violence, revolution and love.

Page 4

This film is both timely and timeless. As our society continues to struggle with the effects of corporate greed and oppression, and city after city is mounting “Occupy Wall St.” protestors to rail against the evils of greed, this is a fine film to challenge the couch potatoes and inspire the angry to action. The growing assault on constitutional rights, the increasing war economy, especially on the backs of the most vulnerable, would be exactly what V would be willing to risk his life for. V invites EV to dance to a jukebox tune as he anticipates his revolution, and when she questions it, he uses a famous Emma Goldman quote, “A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having.” I appreciate this flowing transition and interweaving of revolution and romance. For, ultimately, it becomes the love, the connection, the willingness to trust and become vulnerable to each other, that saves and transforms them into freedom.

Works Cited
V for Vendetta. Dir. James McTeigue. Writers Wachowski Brothers. Cast Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, John Hurt. Warner Brothers 2006.

Ebert, Roger. “V for Vendetta.” Review Sun-Times New Group. 16 March 2006.


First UMC of Endicott, NY is establishing a residential Intentional Christian Community, focused on spiritual growth, outreach and service to the community. If you are interested in this project and would like to know more, please contact us at 607-748-7434 or


Wednesdays, 7:00 to 9:00 PM beginning March 10
First United Methodist Church
53 McKinley Ave., Endicott
607-748-7434 or

This is a study for the countless people of faith who have suffered in silence as the voices of certainty and fear profess the unchanging truth of Christianity. The study’s purpose is to provide a resource for the discussion of what is already believed and practiced by many faithful people still holding on within the institutional church, while harboring a conviction that what the church teaches isn’t the whole story. It may even be helpful for those who have left the church because of its refusal to take their questions or life’s situation seriously. It is not intended to spell out new doctrine or create new dogma, but to serve as a catalyst to perhaps crack open the door to the future.

Living the Questions 2 seeks not to provide easy answers, but to be a resource for people who are in the midst of a life-long conversation about the mysteries of faith and life.

All are welcome! Please contact us to let us know you’re interested in participating. Thank you!

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