8/08/2006

Movie Review: V for Vendetta

This weekend past, my husband and I rented "V for Vendetta." The movie is about a Guy Fawkes-like character living in England, in the future, under a totalitarian regime. It was interesting, well-acted, and not over-powered by special effects.
I like a good science-fiction film. A good science-fiction will explore the possibilities of "what would happen if we lived under circumstance X." Good examples are "Minority Report" and "Aeon Flux."
But, I have to be honest. I did not enjoy "V for Vendetta." I did not appreciate the underlying message of the film and I felt that the world examined by this particular brand of science fiction was dishonest. The film was carefully designed to exploit a particular fear, one that is often fuelled by the mainstream media.
That underlying fear is the infamous hidden agenda of any "Conservative" party.
The basic premise of the movie is that religious, right-wing, Conservative party members take over England. The Prime Minister becomes supreme Chancellor and inflicts his view of the world on everyone. All Muslims, homosexuals, dissidents and anyone with any "liberal" leanings are imprisoned and/or killed. The country's motto is "Strength through Unity, Unity through Faith" and the party symbol is a big, red, Orthodox-style cross. This supposedly "Christian" government at one time performed experiments on its own citizens, seized power through questionable means, fabricates stories, controls the media and does everything else one expects religious, right-wing extremists to do. I would also like to point out that the government appears to be Catholic in nature, since it keeps Catholic priests on its payroll. This may seem like an odd thing to point out, but if you know who Guy Fawkes actually was, then the connection is obvious.
Along comes the "heroic" Guy Fawkes to break the power of this corrupt government and restore freedom to England. He does this by assassinating various members of the government and by blowing up government building. His actions culminate in the destruction of Parliament.
But who was Guy Fawkes really? He was Roman Catholic, born in York, England, famous for his plot to blow up Parliament. He was not remotely interested in restoring "freedom" to England. He was interested in re-establishing a Catholic presence on the throne of England. Curious how the movie omits this central aspect of Fawkes' character. There is good reason for this of course. Once you establish Fawkes as a religiously motivated extremist, you lose the ability to demonize religion in government, the point of the movie.
I really hated the fact that an entire movie was devoted to the warped notion of the "Conservative" hidden agenda. Apparently, there is an entire comic book series devoted to V. It is no wonder that people have an irrational fear of right-wing conservatives. How could you not, when that fear is so openly fuelled by the mainstream media and the entertainment industry?
All in all, I am glad I didn't bother to see this movie in the theatre. I would have left feeling ripped off.

Pirates of the Caribbean 2?
Now that was a good movie.

Edit @ 2:12pm: Sorry. I added "is" to the title by mistake.

15 comments:

David M. McClory said...

Dystopias framed by lefties will never happen. Maggie enhanced the rights of Britons, but Tony Blair wants them all to have ID cards.

Margaret Atwood did the same thing, but I forget the title.

jdave34 said...

FYI:

The V for Vendetta comic book was published about 20 years ago. It was a miniseries, and new stories haven't been written. And in case you're wondering, look up Liberality for All. It's comic book with a very VERY conservative point of view.

And I don't mean to be a prick, but if you're going to review a movie, it probably helps if the reviewer can get the title right.

Ruth said...

The movie was called V is for Vendetta... wasn't it? Or are we talking about two different things?

Anonymous said...

Ya, the movie was fantastic, and it was not a slam on conservatism, but Government.

It's a ficticious world based on a hyperbole of the Thatcher years. The original book was written in the 80's.

Steve said...

I watched the movie this weekend and quite enjoyed it. You may be a little thin-skinned because I didn't think of it as a thinly veiled comment on social conservatism.

Nonetheless, after having visited London earlier this summer, I think the prospect of such a future coming to pass is remote. England, indeed the whole western world, has a democratic tradition that is far too robust for citizens to roll over like that. No "conservative" government that espoused such views would get even a smidgen of support from me.

Moreover, the capacity of the government to act in such a way is greatly circumscribed in the age of the internet. Information empowers the citizenry and China will be democratic before England becomes totalitarian. You can count on it.

BTW, thanks for the historical background on Guy Fawkes. I never knew there was a religious element to his protest.

Anonymous said...

Hehe, "Aeon Flux" is a good example of a sci-fi movie that explores "what happens if...?"

A lot of movie critics would disagree with you (see Rotten Tomatoes, 10% rotten). While I didn't see the movie myself, it was at least in part due to the utterly craptastic reviews.

I'll give you "Minority Report", though. I enjoyed that. Plus it scored 92% fresh at RT.

:)

-- Herman

Anonymous said...

Oh, I should add that I didn't see "V for Vendetta".

And regarding the "hidden agenda" of conservative governments, the current Bush administration has got to be a contributing factor to that idea/fear.

While I don't think their hidden agenda has much to do with trying to establish a theocracy (at least not directly), I think it's clear that something is amiss. With all the controversies surrounding illegal wiretapping, unjust wars, eroding civil rights, eroding consumer rights, corporate interests, lobby groups, plum appointments, oil interests, ridiculous spending, defence contracts, and more, anyone would be hard-pressed to completely dismiss the possibility (I'd go as far as to say, reality) of a hidden agenda. There's too much weirdness going on to say it's all above board. They want control and to subjugate the masses. They use fear to get people to go along with whatever they want to do. The mystery, the hidden part is, what exactly do they want to do?

-- Herman

Ruth said...

Aeon Flux is worth the watch. The creators paid attention to every detail in creating their world, which was definitely unique. The acting is not perfect however, which I am sure was part of the reason for the bad review.

I would disagree with your analysis of the Bush administration. As far as the control of the masses goes, I would say that the US suffers as much from leftist media as Canada does. Bush is not well-loved by the media, so any flaws of his will be highlighted. Contrast him with the previous administration under Clinton. Clinton was something of a media darling, and so any of his flaws (and they were many) were brushed under the rug and not examined as well as they should have been.
I am not saying Bush's administration is perfect. It's not. What I am saying is that it's not as bad as the media (especially the Canadian media) likes to make it out to be.

Anonymous said...

My viewpoint on the Bush administration actually has little to do with media reporting, and especially so when it comes to mainstream media reporting.

As I'm sure you have seen, I have written a fair bit of commentary on various issues in U.S. politics. Much of it is based on basic indisputable facts, independent of media bias. Take the obviously unjust war in Iraq, sold under proven to be false pretenses (they had WMD and Saddam is with Al-Qaeda!), with retroactive justification (free the Iraqi people!), for example. The illegal wiretapping in the U.S. without warrants. Collusion between AT&T and the NSA to spy on citizens. Illegal detainment of U.S. citizens. Proven repeated occurrences of prisoner torture and abuse (which were initially denied by the U.S. government, but later conclusively proven). Big oil is reaping consecutive record quarterly profits off the backs of consumers, yet the most that the U.S. government is willing to do is "talk" about the possibility of a windfall profits tax. The obvious and blatant pandering to the entertainment industry giants, the RIAA/MPAA. No-bid government contracts.

I could go on and on. It's the mountain of evidence that is so compelling; not necessarily anything individually.

Don't even get me started on the 2004 U.S. election, which has practically been proven to have been stolen through the use of electronic voting machines, provably insecure by design (by a company that manufactures secure ATMs - Diebold - whose former CEO promised to deliver Ohio's electoral votes to Bush during the election, like THAT isn't a conflict of interests). And the voting machines themselves are but a single aspect of many controversies surrounding the election.

Don't construe this as a defence for any other party in the political spectrum...my criticism is harshest against the Republicans since they are currently in power, and they should carry full responsibility (duh, it's their job). The Democrats get my blame for being incredibly and unbelievably inept in the face of it all.

The fear card is being played all the time, and it is costing citizens their privacy and rights. The sad part is that they're not even more secure. There is just barely the illusion of more security. Both the U.S. and the U.K. are approaching total surveillance at an increasing pace, all in the name of security and fighting terrorism.

All of this ties together somehow. Is it as simple as "big business" controlling government? Corporate and personal greed by the wealthy at the top? I don't know. It is without a doubt very fishy. Ginger and garlic will not be enough to remove the stench from this fish when fully cooked...

-- Herman

Ruth said...

The war in Iraq is not "obviously" illegal. Strictly speaking, whether it's even illegal is the subject of much debate. I would be more inclined to argue that it is legal. It is being waged without the permission of the UN, but that is not the same thing as being illegal.
Wiretapping, no-bid government contract, pandering to big businesses and the entertainment industry are not sins committed solely by the current administration. Clinton was every bit as guilty of this. In fact, I would say this sort of thing has been going on for a very long time, especially no-bid contracts, and I think it's wrong. The difference now is that the media is more focused on it because they do not like Bush. He is doing pretty much what every President does (rightly or wrongly); he's just getting more attention focused on him.
As far as the election goes "practically" proven is not the same as proven.
With regard to the fear card and surveillance, I have mixed feelings about this. There are good things about it and bad. If there was no surveillance and there was an attack, then people would be upset that there wasn't more security. However, if there is lots of security and no attack, then people accuse the government of encroaching on their rights. As far as I am concerned, it is a no-win situation.

Anonymous said...

I said that the war is unjust, not illegal. The war is unjust and unethical because it was knowingly sold to the world under lies (sources were informants known to be lying), and then as I said, retroactively justified by other reasons (freeing Iraq, for example). These reasons alone would never have been sufficient to justify starting the war. The U.S. had to "prove" there was a clear and present danger to its interests; all claims of which have been proven false (no WMD, no Saddam-Al-Qaeda link). The U.S. was so rushed to war that they weren't even fully prepared (troops were lacking proper equipment and armour; Rumsfeld said you go to war with the army you have). Colin Powell made his pitch to the U.N. with apparently irrefutable evidence, which has since gone up in smoke. The other Security Council members didn't buy it, and they were right not to do so.

I personally was supporting the U.S. in going to war prior to March 2003. I figured they wouldn't be stupid enough to lie or incompetent enough to be mistaken about the presence of WMDs, and then present the "slam-dunk" evidence to the U.N. Well, turns out I was wrong.

You wrote: Wiretapping, no-bid government contract, pandering to big businesses and the entertainment industry are not sins committed solely by the current administration.

Just because previous administrations have done similar things doesn't make it right. That is irrelevant because Bush et al. are doing this now. We can't change the past but we can try to stop what is happening now, and in the future.

And Bush isn't doing quite the same stuff as every President has. Do you know what signing statements are? Bush has made far more than any President in history, and only recently made his first (and only) veto. Those signing statements can and have been used to bypass the very laws he signed. Google for the sorts of laws on which he made those signing statements.

Regarding the election. It may not yet be conclusively proven (although some would argue that it has), but there is a mountain of evidence which points to vote and voter manipulation being the truth. The election is highly suspect. Exit polls in Ohio were very much different from "actual" votes cast. See this video for testimony under oath about the Ohio election and voting machines.

The Diebold voting machines are incredibly insecure. Even after "certification" it is easy street to circumvent or modify them. They have no tamper-proof seals. I wrote about electronic voting machines here and here, including more information on Diebold and Walden O'Dell's statement.

The Diebold machines used in elections are intentionally poorly designed with no proper auditing mechanism in place. That is completely inexcusable. There is no independent and secure paper trail for recounting votes. Some districts with voting machines reported more votes cast than actual registered voters (see this peer-reviewed document on exit polls). I already mentioned how Diebold manufactures ATMs. They know how to make secure kiosks that print receipts, but they seem to have no interest in doing so for voting machines. Even slot machines in casinos have more stringent controls and security measures.

Please also watch this video showing how the 2004 election played out. Ignore the bad music and just watch the moving pictures.

It is ridiculous that the U.S. election process be so complicated and flawed. Canada is several times smaller than the U.S., but we span the same time zones, and our election process can scale up. There is no way to widely manipulate votes in Canada without massive collusion in many ridings. India manages elections with over 675 million registered voters, and with a turnout in 2004 of 380 million voters. No massive problems there. Lineups are also crazy in the U.S., many were hours long (as shown in one of the videos above). In Canada, the wait to receive your ballot from first walking into the polling station is less than 2 minutes, in my experience.

So, I think the evidence is quite conclusive. The election is most certainly questionable based on a "preponderance of the evidence".

One of the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, wrote in 1759: "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Liberty is what citizens of the U.S. are losing today in exchange for the perception of additional safety. It is impossible to completely defend against random or even coordinated acts of terrorism without being a total police state, monitoring every single thought and action. Otherwise, people can still meet in relative secrecy and plot evil acts. If they want to kill you and you don't know who or when, you cannot stop them without total surveillance. The only possible strategy is to make them stop wanting to kill you. U.S. foreign policy isn't exactly conducive to that, though.

I realize that I have dumped a lot of links and videos on you but my strategy is not to inundate you. I am trying to present supporting evidence showing that I'm not just spewing at the mouth. I encourage you to watch the entire length of the videos so you can see what is so controversial.

-- Herman

Ruth said...

My mistake. I thought you had written illegal.
I'll address some of your other points later though.

Shabbadoo said...

Regarding the actual movie (and not Herman's obsession with imaginary corruption in the Bush administration), I also had the same feeling as you Ruth.

It seems so contradictory that they would destroy the Parliament buildings to restore democracy, when Parliament is one of the most effective tools and symbols of democracy.

Anonymous said...

Imaginary corruption? How do you explain away and excuse the events that have occurred?

The U.S. government has been proven to be corrupt from virtually every standpoint. Economically (no-bid contracts to corporations), morally (prisoner abuse/torture), politically (fraudulent elections), Constitutionally (loss of privacy/rights/freedoms), are there more that I've missed?

I'd be interested in any point-by-point refutation that you can provide to discredit the evidence, rather than to make a sweeping statement about my "imagination".

-- Herman

patrick said...

watched V for Vendetta recently, loved it. eye-candy effects, amazing how much character they developed into a mask, then again, maybe he was more than a mask...

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