Hugo in mask I saw the film V for Vendetta today. I read the graphic novel yesterday.

Shoot me down, purists, but I thought the film was better.

**WARNING: CONTAINS LOTS OF SPOILERS**

If you read it in the 80s, you’ll no doubt be bleating in protest already, but I stand by my view. The original is a great and thought-provoking read, to be sure, but it is very much of its time. You don’t write a screenplay to be faithful to someone else’s vision. You write a screenplay to make a film as good as it can be. And the changes to the story made in the Wachowskis’ script were all sensible ones.

The concept of the personified central computer system ‘Fate’ might have been Orwellian and futuristic in the 80s but would have seemed dated twenty years on. The addition of references like a media-led avian flu panic only added to the sense of “Hold on a second, isn’t that a bit like… now?” The decision to swap the Old Bailey and the Houses of Parliament bombing order around was excellent. Much better sense of crescendo, visually. The decision to send V off in the tube decked in roses was brilliant. Cinematic gold, in fact.

I could’ve probably done without the thwarted Evey/V love theme, but it certainly didn’t detract from the story. The fact that Evey didn’t become V in the end was a slight shame, but the theme of continuation and tradition was still there in the dead characters’ reappearance in the masked crowd at the end. If I want, I can still harbour the idea that it was Valerie all along, despite the evidence of Hugo Weaving’s manly form.

By the end, I was thinking “This has got to be the most subversive blockbuster ever released”. And “Do ‘they’ realise what is in this film?” And “Couldn’t this be a highly polished recruiting tool for radical anarchy*?”

[*I’m not suggesting anarchy itself is a violent system, it isn’t. Send me none of your polite hate mail, dear anarchists.]

I mean, think about it. In Blair’s mean-spirited language, it certainly glamourises terrorism. It openly declares that violence is a moral and appropriate response to oppression. It shows that chaos and precarity are inevitable if state power is to be opposed, and should be embraced. It illustrates how the corporate media is the tool of the corporate-dominated state and how the mass media’s non-advertising content exists to distract and instruct according to the interests of its paymasters. (Which may account for the fact that the film has received a stack of “Oh it’s all boring and complicated, don’t bother with it” type reviews from mainstream media. Interesting.)

V for Vendetta So all in all, I’m rather blown away by it. I’d been led to believe that it would be a pale imitation of the anarchic original, when in fact the power of its 21st century impact surpassed it. I should’ve known those Wachowskis wouldn’t let me down.

Now: (i) how long do you think it’ll be before V masks/wigs are available in costume shops, and (ii) do you think the anti-demonstration legislation covering 1 km around Parliament (The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005) extends to people walking through Westminster in fancy dress?