V for Vendetta

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Guy Fawkes

Released: 2006
Director: James McTeigue

Starring: Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving


An exciting story of revolution

We’re fast approaching Guy Fawkes Night and what better way to celebrate than by looking at some films, books and television programmes which celebrate great revolutionaries?  And of course counting down the best explosions in film? For the first time since the Harry Potter series I’m running reviews of a movie and the book that it’s based on side by side.  It might seem odd that it’s taken me several months of running LouiseReviews before doing this again but I generally try not to look at books and films together.  I prefer to regard each as an independent work.    However, it seemed silly not to both read and watch V for Vendetta as I was planning to celebrate all things Fawkesian.

The film version of Alan Moore’s graphic novel stars Natalie Portman as Evey Hammond and Hugo Weaving, a masked freedom fighter battling against totalitarian rule in Britain.  The movie begins with V destroying the Old Bailey on 5th November 2020 and calling on the citizens of Britain to join him in exactly one year’s time for the destruction of the Houses of Parliament.  As Scotland Yard’s Inspector Finch tracks V and Evey down it becomes clear that V has a personal motivation for targeting high-ranking members of the governing party.

The dystopian future created is chilling and alien but at the same time all too believable.  The rise of one powerful leader who controls the country through charisma, fear and propaganda isn’t too far from the truth for many countries.  Just because it hasn’t happened in Britain doesn’t mean that it couldn’t – a sobering thought.

The cast is excellent.  Natalie Portman shines as Evey, the scared but ultimately brave young women who gets caught up in V’s rebellion.  Her accent is pretty good, not perfect but I never found myself cringing at it.  Hugo Weaving masters the impossible and makes a character who is almost permamently masked both charismatic and appealing.  I particularly enjoyed Stephen Rea’s performance as Finch, the policeman out to stop V.  Despite being an agent of a cruel state, Finch is not a cruel or unreasonable man.  He is willing to look for the whole truth, no matter what the political implications of this may be.  Perhaps even more so than V, Finch is the heroic figure at the heart of V for Vendetta.  The supporting cast is full of the best in British acting talent including John Hurt, Eddie Marsan, Tim Piggott-Smith and Sinead Cusack whose part is small but beautifully played.

The soundtrack is fabulous, particularly the use of Julie London’s Cry Me A River.  Despite seeming a cruel man, V’s love for music such as this reveals a softer, more emotional and sympathetic side.  The use of the 1812 Overture is both slightly cliched and strangely effective, this is definitely one of the most striking soundtracks I’ve heard recently.

The special effects are impressive, especially the two large set-piece explosions – expect to see at least one of them in the Top Ten Explosions list coming up tomorrow.  The fight scenes are exciting and stylish – I’d love to know if Hugo Weaving did his own swordsmanship or if the masked nature of V allowed a stuntman to step in.

I know that there’s a lot to be learned from V for Vendetta about fighting totalitarianism, the power of symbols and taking care not to become that which you seek to destroy, but really I’m more interested in the fact that it is a very well made, well acted and stunningly filmed action adventure.  If you’re going to take anything from this film, let it be this – People should not be afraid of their government, government should be afraid of the people.

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  1. Nice work, this film gets a 3.5/4 from me. Hugo Weaving was brilliant. Looking forward to reading more of your reviews, welcome to LAMB!

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