Before bombarding you with my earth-shattering ideas and opinions, let me tell you that I happen to be a big fan of Dystopian literature. It thrills me to the core when I get my hands on a dystopian graphic novel or watch a film having a dystopian plot. With the contemporary world facing problems such as unemployment, political unrest, insecurity, etc., the concept of dystopia has no longer remained just a part of the fiction.
Back in 2005, when I was a school-going chap, released one of the most influential dystopian thrillers in the history of cinema. (At least, I would like to believe so.) V for Vendetta, directed by James McTeigue, took us into the 2030s, giving us a glimpse of the dark and dingy streets of dystopian London. A cinematic representation of Allan Moore’s graphic novel, the film beautifully portrayed rebellion and revolution in order to overthrow autocratic regimes.
Starring Hugo Weaving and Nathalie Portman as V and Evey respectively, the film was so influential that today the Guy Fawkes mask has become a perpetual symbol of rebellion against totalitarian governments and injustice. Today, the internet, as well as the social media, runs berserk with countless Guy Fawkes images whenever the idea of a protest or an uprise is brought to light. The film, with its gripping storyline, makes sure that you don’t lose interest. It is one of those films which keeps you hooked and guessing right till the very end.
Here’s a look at all the factors that led to the film’s success
A Refreshing Change:
Hollywood has, for long, been associated with the Captain Americas, the Hulks, the Logans, and the Venoms. Indian audiences get attracted to the superhero genre quite effortlessly. At a time when the Superhero genre was overpowering the Indian audiences, V for Vendetta came as a breath of fresh air. It took us through a fictitious autocratic society wherein people were governed using surveillance systems. It further gave us ample reasons to respect and admire democratic governments. A country shouldn’t run according to the will of only a few, it should function according to the will of its citizenry.
The Element of Fear:
Rebellion became a way to liberate the masses. The movie tells us that fickle-minded governments can only be overthrown if people break the shackles of fear. It made people realize that giving in to their fear only makes oppressive governments stronger. It is because fear is the ultimate tool used to control the masses. It further brought to light the tricks governments play to instill a sense of fear amongst the masses. V, disguised as William Rockwood, tells Chief Inspector Finch about the planned attack carried out by Adam Sutler’s party. He tells him how fear became the ultimate tool of Sutler’s party.
A Fictional Representation of Real-World Problems
V for Vendetta is nothing more than a piece of fiction, but the problems portrayed are pretty much real. Autocratic governments, like the one in North Korea, have snatched away the vox populi and commit severe human rights violations. Wars and political unrests have dismantled countless African nations. Autocratic regimes have denied freedom of speech and expression. Those found ‘guilty’ are being executed. Political scenarios have become as complicated as they possibly can. Many countries (Syria for instance) have been destroyed and crippled. Dystopia is no longer just a piece of fiction. It has turned into a shocking reality.
V, the titular character and the film’s leading protagonist, beautifully sums up the need to overthrow oppressive governments when he says:
V, the film’s titular character, is undoubtedly the perfect protagonist. He is a deeply-learned man who also happens to be a skilled martial artist. He is a skilled swordsman as well. Nothing that he does is a matter of chance. He is not someone who’d leave loose ends. All that he does is carefully planned.
Well, I must admit V’s revolutionary speech reminds me of Mark Antony’s speech from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. His ideology is simple: Only a revolution can overthrow autocratic governments, and that a revolution would succeed only if there are enough people standing beside you. His arguments are highly rational and his grammar and diction are as good as William Shakespeare’s. He rightly nurtures the belief that fairness, justice, and freedom are not merely words, they are perspectives.
Furthermore, one could easily figure out that V had developed a soft corner for Evey Hammond. He fell in love with her and confessed the same before dying.
So, to top it all, V for Vendetta, with its tight storytelling and excellent performances, doesn’t only provide the viewer with entertainment. It also makes the viewer learn a few important lessons.