V for Vendetta (2005)

V for VendettaThis brilliant film merges several mythic elements and serves them up in context of our modern, turbulent times. The masked character, named V, originally comes from a comic book series written by Alan Moore. V is an anarchist in a post-USA world, living in England around 2020. His aim is to take revenge for his horrific detention by the leaders of the totalitarian English government. He plans to blow up the Parliament building. He meets an innocent young woman, Evey, who gets caught up in his plot. As a result she awakens to face herself and the reality that is behind the orderly facade of her world. Through some questionable means, V aids Evey in her transformation. But Evey also helps V realize a truth about himself which changes his plans.

Here I would like to bring out some of the mythological elements, assuming that you have seen the movie. If you have not but would like to see it, please do not read further.

Almost every character in the movie undergoes his or her own mythological hero's journey. Here's a discussion of some of the most prominent ones. This is only a very brief sketch.

The Transformation of Evey: Evey begins as a fragile, scared, young woman going about her usual life working at a television network. Her biggest obstacle was her fear, which she wishes she could overcome. Eventually she does with the help of V. Her physical appearance tracks her transformation, the pinnacle of which comes when she accepts the fact that she is about to die and is not afraid. In that instance she is freed from her fear and from her prison. The whole scenario was an illusion created by V. When she finds this out, she psychologically breaks down. Evey's transformation is symbolized by the scene where she goes outside in the rain looking exactly like a Buddhist monk, dressed in an orange robe. She raises her arms to the stormy and lightning-filled skies as she recognizes her freedom. The movie flashes back to a scene when V had also come out of his prison.

The Transformation of V: V was a victim of an oppressive quasi-1984 totalitarian government. We know that the government rounded up, imprisoned, tortured, and performed medical tests on the "undesirables" of society, including blacks, homosexuals, Muslims and other minorities. We don't know the reason for V's imprisonment but we realize that something was different about him. We realize that he was burned all over his body during a fire at the prison. We get the sense that somehow he had gained certain superhuman abilities as a result of the testing that was done on him.

We never see V unmasked. There is a sense that V is not so much a man as an idea, a very powerful idea. V seeks revenge. Blatantly and systematically he kills all of the leaders responsible for the crimes of the government. He also hatches a plan to blow up the Parliament building. Towards the end, Evey makes it painfully clear to V that he has turned into the very monster that he wished to annihilate. V breaks down and weeps. He comes to realize that both sides are interconnected, that good and evil are the opposite sides of the same coin. This is spelled out in the scene where he lays out the dominoes in the shape of his name, V. It is laid out in a perfect pattern, which is like a myth. The beginning and end can be seen simultaneously. Once the dominoes are toppled, they run their course and collapse onto one domino. V picks it up and looks at both sides, colored red and black. They are opposite sides of the same domino piece. In the end of the movie, we see V and his foes annihilating each other. Good and evil collapse into each other and this brings about liberation.

The Transformation of the people: In the beginning of the movie, we see the people of London running around during the day in very drab or colorless clothes. They retreat to their comfortable homes before curfew, all glued to the television. In fact, they get all of their news and anything pertaining to their collective lives through the television. It entertains them, cheers them on, drives them to fear and gives them instructions. They are first presented almost as mindless robots but slowly, especially among the youth, something stirs in them. V hijacks the television station and broadcasts a message asking the people to stand with him outside the gates of Parliament in one year, on November 5th. Eventually V gets his wish. He ships hundreds of thousands of masks, like his, to a large number of London's residents. The military is brought in to overpower and perhaps to arrest the protesters. They all come wearing the V mask. The end of the movie captures the blowing up of the Parliament building as all of the people remove the masks and reveal their faces in the light of the fireworks that follow. And among the people, we see all the characters or persons who were victims of the crimes of the government. Some of them had been tortured and killed. But now we see them in the crowd, all restored, alive and well. The people finally overcome and win back their freedom. The idea, in the form of V, was powerful enough to reach the people's ears. The scene is played out beautifully.


Memorable Quotes:

V: "There is a face beneath this mask, but it's not me. I'm no more that face than I am the muscles beneath it, or the bones beneath them."

V: "There are no coincidences, Delia... only the illusion of coincidence."

Finch: "I suddenly had this feeling that everything was connected. It's like I could see the whole thing, one long chain of events that stretched all the way back before Larkhill. I felt like I could see everything that happened, and everything that is going to happen. It was like a perfect pattern, laid out in front of me. And I realised we're all part of it, and all trapped by it."

V: "If you are looking for the guilty, you only need look into a mirror."

Dietrich: "You wear a mask for so long, you forget who you were beneath it."

V: "Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof."

Evey: "My father was a writer. You would've liked him. He used to say that artists use lies to tell the truth, while politicians use them to cover the truth up."

V: "The building is a symbol. As is the act of destroying it. Alone a symbol is meaningless. But with enough people, blowing up a building can change the world."

V: "A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having!"


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