August 28, 2006

Subject: [A-librarians] V for Vendetta

Having finally gotten around to seeing V for Vendetta now that it's out on DVD, I was wondering about other peoples' opinions. I've read one long interview with Alan Moore and some other accounts where he trashes the film and has insisted--apparently successfully--that his name be removed from the credits. His basic thrust being that the film watered down his political vision. I don't know that I agree with his assessment.

It's true that there are no overt paens to anarchy like there are in the graphic novel. In fact, there's only 2 explicit @ references that I noted, one by a masked robber committing a purely (anti)-social crime, the other an oblique Emma Goldman reference "A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having."

On the other hand, this film is not, as Moore seems to think, a hymn to liberal democracy. While Evie argues with V abut the need for violence and never embraces murder, in the end she goes along with the notion of destruction as a symbol and catalyst for revolution, which is certainly more in the spirit of Bakunin than Labour.

Portraying the bombing of British institutions in the wake of 9/11 as an
(arguably) justifiable revolutionary act is a far cry from liberal notions of civil disobedience as the only honorable method of change, even if the ending of tens of thousands of citizens milling around in their Guy Fawkes masks is a little too saccharine and pat. Plus, "Street fighting man" played over the closing credits. I think the ideals tossed around--liberty, justice--are vague enough to support either @ or liberal democratic notions, but I think the tenor of the film tips its allegiance into the @ camp.

I suspect a large part of this is it's hard for the Wachowski Bros. to make an action movie without blowing up copious amounts of stuff, but still...

The other think Moore knocks is how he thinks the ruthlessness of the totalitarian system isn't emphasized enough. Basically, both of his extreme opposing forces--anarchism and fascism--are weakened for public consumption. He mentions the absence of racial purity from the film. The sending of Muslims, gays, political undesirables, etc. to the camps is mentioned early in the film, perhaps not really emphasized all that much, but I don't think it was emphasized all that much in the graphic novel either. I don't think the film glossed over the horrors of the dictatorship at all. Actually, the anti-gay stance of the state is pictured pretty strongly. It's true that there wasn't much said about racial purity, but I don't know that politically that's as much a part of the Right's milieu as it was back in the 80s when Moore wrote the GN. I was bit surprised there wasn't more of an attempt to link the fascism as a reaction to terrorism and focus a bit more on anti-immigrant/anti-Muslim sentiment. This could have been kind of an update of the "racial purity" point.

I can understand Moore being upset about the way he's been treated by DC, but I think the film was a fairly decent adaptation, if not as ideologically spot on as I might have liked.


I love John Hurt playing the Big Brother role. I thought that was a stroke of genius.

Compared to the other Moore movies this does seem like a pretty decent treatment.


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