Facism and Democracy in “V for Vendetta”

In this paper we are going to discuss the world famous movie ”“ V for Vendetta. Originally the film was to be released in November 2005, however then it was moved to March of the next year. Although some critics stated, that the plot of the story lacked originality, a traditional lonely hero fighting against the whole world around him for justice and freedom. In reality, the movie is much deeper and more sophisticated. This is a mixture of political allegory, along with bloody actions, reinforced by great cinematic moments. Other critics argued, that the film was strange and scandalous. In reality the movie was a great success and the problems, touched in it proved to be important and interesting to the audience. V for Vendetta proved to be a stunning investigation into the deepest corridors of fascism and democracy.

Full of fantasies the film starts from the captions, stating that all the names, used in the movie are not real. This was done first of all certainly in order to avoid any kind of political accusations. Although the events of the film take place in the future, this is evident, that they are closely related to the nowadays situation. The effect of the movie is reinforced by its reflection of the present, not the future.Ā  The creators of the film tried to transfer their negative attitudes towards imperialism and war in Iraq. V for Vendetta is connected to several sources, there are enough references from the graphic novel, some critics find parallels with The Matrix, Zorro, 1984.

The setting of the movie is one country and at the same time the whole world, which is stuck in turmoil. America is suffering from the civil war, poverty, plague. In England there is no evident social unrest, because of the full totalitarian regime of fascist dictator ”“ Adam Sutler. he could have the complete control over his people, if not the mysterious figure – V, hidden in the night streets, whose face is always covered by a mask and whose heart and soul are burning, a dark knight, who is looking for his chance to evoke people for fight against authorities.

Unexpected ally V found in a girl Evey, whom he saved from the brutes of Sutler on her way home. The two heroes do not realize from the very first moment how much in common they have in reality. V suggest the girl watching his performance, “the explosive destruction of the Old Bailey, complete with fireworks choreographed to the strains of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” (Goldstein, 1). Evey, who is afraid of V and can not make her mind to join him, turns to her co-worker in television ”“ Deitrich. At the same time, Inspector Finch is busy with the investigation in order to define the identity of the terrorist V. The issues of terrorism are very sophisticated here, as the audience can surely trace the connection to the problems with terrorism nowadays, it is clear that it is more related to the present again, than to the future. But in the movie, according to the totalitarian regime, V ”“ as a fighter for freedom, is considered to be a terrorist, whereas in the whole movie he kills only people who belong to authorities, he has no aim to blackmail or enrich himself at the expense of somebody’s life. Some of the connections of the movie to reality are rather vivid and strong, like for example the weird speech as for the power of destruction of some building, which is a symbol, clearly reflecting the World Trade Center and shadows of Osama bin Laden.

V for Vendetta consists of several moments, mixed up with flashbacks. “From the destruction of the Old Bailey to V’s introductory monologue (where nearly every other word begins with the letter “v”) to the toppling of a massive number of dominoes to the final, blood-soaked battle, the movie offers plenty of chances for nape hairs to stand on end”¯ (Murray, 2). There are a lot of ideas, which the screenwriters, the Wachowski Brothers aimed to present to the audience, there are a lot of serious questions asked, like for example what is more important to be free or to be safe, what could be the price people would agree to pay for the peace. V is fullyĀ  involved into asserting the rights for freedom for people. subdued to fascist government of High Chancellor Adam Sutler. he declares, that ‘People should not be afraid of their governments; their governments should be afraid of them’.Ā  However, this is evident, that authoritarian tendencies of the government in reality root from the fear for their peoples. Initially fascist government certainly was not elected, “rather, they were pushed to seize power by a fearful ruling class terrified of genuine, popular, left-wing radicalism that threatened to overthrow their dominance”¯ (Goldstein, 3). One of the brightest historical examples of such situations in the country can be traced in Spain, when the Liberals supported Mussolini out of pure fear. Afterwards the masses are not able to withstand their government and revert into sheep-like herd.

V, realizing this, doesn’t try to convince people, he just tries to provoke disorder and chaos, which would distract attention of government and will present his the possibility to carry out his plans. The image of the main hero ”“ V ”“ is many-sided and not so easy to interpret. The title of the movie states, that the main aim of his action is his vendetta, in a way this is also correct, as he wants to pay back for the sufferings and asperity he had to go through in the prison. On the other hand, there are sometimes subtle echoes of hope. Pure vendetta should no be mixed up with political motives or any hopes. His hidden aim seems to be the fight for democratic society, however, only till the moment, when he says that “it’s up to them [the people] to decide’ what happens next”¯, which means that he personally has no faith in democracy, after he has reached his aim of annihilation of his tormentors. For the audience this is also the moment of doubts as for the words of Evey, stating that V is “you, he’s me, he’s everyone”¯. As it was already said, although referred to as terrorist, V doesn’t evoke fear or hostility towards his, rather sympathy.

Emotions of the audiences are stirred up by several touching moment in the movie. The scenes related to the repressions of gay women and men by the regime of Sutler are penetrating. The other scene ”“ the final climaxĀ  – the destruction of Parliament with the music of Tschaikovsky’s 1812 Overture has rather shocking impact, because this destruction seems to be far from reclaiming of the democratic institutions instead of Sutler’s regime, but a burst of somebody’s grieve and nihilism.

There are several themes explored in the movie, the most important one is the conflict between anarchism and fascism. “The Norsefire regime shares every facet of fascist ideology: it is highly xenophobic, rules the nation through both fear and force, and worships strong leadership (e.g. the fĆ¼hrerprinzip”¯ (Goldstein, 3). Most of the fascist regimes are characterized by a number of state organizations, involved into power struggle. although under the control of the same leader. Any fascist regime certainly foresees absolute corporatism, which means, that the society and the state should be totally identified. The institutions are named after the parts of the body: “the detective branch of the police is The Nose; the surveillance organizations are The Ear and The Eye; the uniform branch of the police is The Finger (and those who work for them are called Fingermen); and the state-controlled media is known as The Mouth”¯ (Travers, 3).

The ideas of anarchism as presented by V are very close to those of Mikhail Bakunin, who argued, that the old society is to vanish or to be destroyed before the new one appears on the ruins. In his fictional dialogues with Madame Justice V says a very important phrase, thatĀ  “justice is meaningless without freedom”¯, there can be a parallel with the statement of BakuninĀ  – “Freedom without Socialism is privilege and injustice and Socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality”¯ (Murray, 5). The personality of V remains rather enigmatic throughout the whole story. About his personal history the audience get to know only from some hints of other characters. The actions as well as intentions of V are ambiguous, as the high goals of freedom are overlapping with his personal goals of vendetta. On the one hand he is fighting for anarchism, but not in the ordinary meaning of, sometimes the audience has the feelings, that his anarchism should be a way to democracy. V is labeled as terrorist, but again not in the general meaning of this notion, as his actions are in reality close to those of a crazy obsessed individual, than a terrorist. He doesn’t belong to any organized terrorist group and his goal is officially only revenge. This ambiguity of the main hero is an important theme for the story, and actually all the judgments regarding his personality and final aims are left for the consideration of the audience.

Some critics found the parallels between V for Vendetta and Alexander Duma’s The Count of Monte Cristo, comparing V to Edmond Dantes. In reality in both stories the main hero is undeservedly thrown to prison and has to go through a long way of sufferings, looking for rescue first of all for the sake of revenge. However, the romantic story of the count still seems to be clearly built only around this theme of betrayal and revenge, whereas V for Vendetta, in spite of its title, propagates far deeper social and political themes. V is not simply an embodiment of an individual, he is an idea himself, an idea of the possible real freedom and democracy in the society. “”V’s use of the Guy Fawkes mask and persona functions as both practical and symbolic elements of the story. He wears the mask to hide his physical scars, and in obscuring his identity, V becomes more than just a man with a revolutionary idea ”“ he becomes the idea itself” (Travers, 1). The basis for this idea of the struggle against state for freedom roots from several classical totalitarian fictional and real examples ”“ such as the USSR, the Third Reich and George Orwell’s 1984 (Travers, 1).

In many totalitarian regimes the portrait of the political leader of the state was placed everywhere, practically on the wall of each house and institution. In V for Vendetta we see the videos on the big screen with the face of Adam Sutler, along with his portraits in people’s homes. The terrible medical experiments, done on people, for example on lesbian Valerie, immediately remind what we know about the experiments performed during the times of Holocaust by Nazi Germany. “Norsefire has replaced St George’s Cross with the Cross of Lorraine as their Nordic-style national symbol. This was a symbol used by Free French Forces during World War II, as it was a traditional symbol of French patriotism that could be used as an answer to the Nazis’ Swastika.”¯ (Travers, 2). Usual media propaganda and complete obedience to government also belong to the brightest characteristics of the totalitarian regime in general.

Overall, we can conclude, that fantastic and mysterious on the surface movie V for Vendetta, in reality investigates and develops very important social-political themes, the notions of freedom and democracy, confrontation of them to the totalitarianism and fascism; the themes of identity of a human as a member of society and his dependence on the social order or vice verse his opposition to the existing political regime.

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