Saturday, March 25, 2006

V for Vendetta, and I got one

Ok, while I think it was a fine looking movie with more than a little relevance to the current day, the movie does differ substantially from the graphic novel in characterization and plotting. Yes, Alan Moore has proved notoriously difficult to adapt the work of, as well as work with, such that Sin City was thought to be a miraclous feat by Robert Rodriguez. Sin City aside, Hollywood hasn't treated his work well either, which is chock-full of transgressive acts unlikely to be marketable in a big-budget blockbuster. Witness the critical and commercial failures of From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Constantine or the now never-to-be adaptation of Moore's greatest work, Watchmen. To say, as some have, that this is the most faithful and literal adapation to date is setting the bar rather low.

What's missing from the movie version of V: moral ambiguity. While Fascism provides us with one pole, V takes Moore's own viewpoint of anarchism as the appropriate response, including the idea of The Land of Do-As-You-Please, enfolded within a larger argument addressing the challenges and contradictions of anarchism as a political philosophy. Now you could argue that this is unrealistic in a movie, but I saw no lack of speechifying otherwise in the movie, but not about anarchism. Similar banal dialogue ruined the Wachowski's Matrix sequels. V also becomes non-violent in the film, tying together shoelaces at one point. The only people he kills are uniformed agents of the state. While in the book, he fights hand-to-hand in the Evey is a 16yo sex worker, not a 25ish journalist, as in the book. The lead investigator Finch makes a key investigative discovery while tripping on LSD.

Little details, like 'Sutler' being orginally 'Susan'. the novel suggested V's crime may have been homosexuality, but the movie inserts a ridiculous declaration of love. The novel ends with a bang, as the train car carrying V's body (shot by Finch, not Creedy) exploded under the city, and Evey doins the mask to become V. None of that is in the movie, and it even changes the scene where a crowd dons Guy Fawkes masks to be in confrontation with the police, rather than the appropriate final scene. Most infuriatingly, they added all of this 'no coincidence' conspriacy theory prattling without ever once mentioning how V got all of his omniscient predictions: by hacking into the government computer. Sorry, I guess this is just one case where it is better to see the movie before reading the book. I'm not saying don't see it, only its been done better.

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2 Comments:

At 9:54 AM,

V also becomes non-violent in the film, tying together shoelaces at one point.

I believe that the shoelace scene was from a TV show lampooning the leader Benny Hill style, and not actually V.

Evey in the book isn't a sex-worker - she is about to become a sex-worker before V rescues her by killing the Finger Men (cops) trying to rape her.

The movie might have been done better, but I'm not sure how or by whom.

 
At 10:09 AM,

Fair enough Jersey Nick and thank you; maybe I'm just jealous of the Wachowskis ruining a potentially great thing. Of course, maybe I'm just nitpicking out of sentimentality: I donated this book to my local library when one of the librarians told me they were trying to build a graphic novel collection. Most of all I'm left wondering who will direct Watchmen, or if it will get made at all.

 

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