The movie I chose to discuss from a sociological perspective is ‘V for Vendetta’, which is directed by James McTeigue. The film was originally taken from the graphic novel written by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. The setting is familiar to many of the fictitious novels written in the future about a dystopian era, in which people are ruled by fear spread through government-driven propaganda and human atrocities. Many would probably say in a way today we see such tools/mechanisms in our present time used to warp ideas and theories. We constantly hear the terms of being brainwashed or even more recently the term of being ‘woke’ with my generation in particular.
We see this as the movie begins with a talking media head Lewis Prothero, who in this era is basically what I would consider something on an equal footing of what the Bill O’Reilly show illustrates. From his opening dialogue, it seems America has fallen into chaos and England is the Crown Jewel of the world so to speak. He brags about America’s current dilemma being deserved and how they are crawling back to England begging for help. While they are showing this, we cut back to see a young woman named ‘Evey’ played by Natalie Portman watching the program while getting dressed to attend a function. As she becomes a bit offended and repulsed by the talk show’s rhetoric, she turns the program off before finally being ready to head out to a function. As she leaves taking a shortcut of sorts, she runs into a group of shady inspectors that try to rape her and screaming for help, our hero ‘V’ hears her pleas for help before engaging in combat subduing them all. As she looks upon our savior wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and cape while having an arsenal of daggers, she is a bit unsure of him when he introduces himself to her using the 80% of his vocabulary with the letter V. He comes off as a very educated man to her while she thinks he’s a bit strange initially, she begins to understand his point of view on many matters as the story unfolds. While many of his acts can easily be touted as terroristic as the story unfolds like the blowing up the Old Parliament building, the way the movie is scripted gives you more of a positive connection to V’s point of view. Not long after doing this, he takes over the emergency channel at a news station to give his true meaning of what a united England would be and wants the citizen to stand with him against the tyranny of their current government.
As we delve deeper into the story, we see the literal trials and tribulations of what made V who he is in the story. This was a man who was detained in a government facility and left to die in vain when the facility went up in flames. He survived the explosion and inherited superhuman like strength from the constant experimentation, but alas his true intentions are revealed later to why he wants revenge. One would’ve thought it was strictly what they did to him in that facility, but it was more about what they did to another patient at the facility, Valerie Page. He found a note of hers written on toilet paper detailing her own happiness and sorrows during her life and how she eventually ended up in that facility for being gay. The government tyranny was well known for taking people out of their homes during the night, never to be heard from again, as seen with Evey’s story herself as she recollects her childhood and what happened to her political activist parents right before her own eyes. Not long after Evey as well is kidnapped in almost identical fashion her parents were where’s she detained, interrogated and tortured as she’s badgered to give up information on the whereabouts of the terrorist named ‘V’. It’s here, Evey builds her will and who she is during captivity as the experience makes her stronger than she could’ve imagined. She finally sees this in excruciating fashion when she’s released from her cell only to find she’s never left Vs house and he’s the one who put her through this ordeal the last several months. As she’s at first enraged with him what he’s done, but he illustrates to her the payoff and how she can never be broken from all the past trauma like when her parents were taken. The scene itself is very powerful from her casting of emotion on the torture to knowing it was V to seeing how it transcended her in a way as a person. While his methods can be debated, there was no debate that it eliminated the internal fear that became innate after seeing what happened to her parents before her eyes and she felt liberated. When she first told V of the story itself, she apologized for not being stronger to help her parents when they were taken by the government while at the same time wanting to be of assistance to V in any way possible.
As the film unfolds, you see many of the sociological factors you see today from not only the fear tactics but also gross abuses of power as we see with the Bishop who likes to molest girls before being handed down justice by V. Many of the concepts used in this film are things we can relate to on a day-to-day basis and while we don’t have a dystopian culture per se, there are still elements that correlate to our own time.
The Guy Fawkes mask is more of a representation of what he tried to on November 5th,1605 to blow up the House of Lords with gun powder kegs in what is labeled the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. While V’s stance isn’t just about what Guy wanted to do back then strictly, but more of liberating the people from current anarchy they are living under while handing out justice for those responsible for Valerie’s demise. He sends the masks all over England telling those to come out in full force on the next November 5th a year from his TV message in the unity of what England should be. The symbolism in that scene where thousands emerge at Parliament with the Guy Fawkes mask is one of my favorite films. To see the influence V had over the country, even the Inspector who had reservations but slowly starts to see V’s points as he digs into the media scare tactics driven by the government. This definitely is one of my favorite films all the time because it touches a bit of every part of the sociological spectrum. We see it from the government point of view off the bat with the media-driven rant regarding America’s current state where it’s more about the privilege of the halves vs the halve not.
We see V’s perception through various parts of the film from his introduction to Evey to his message to London to finally when he with her help commits his final act of with Parliament. While his message can be taken as extreme in certain contexts like the blowing up of a building, I felt his ideology was always right and had ideals I could align with in terms of. In the end, V gives his life as soon as many have over the centuries to open the eyes of humanity to what’s important within the context of life. As much as history is littered with atrocities, we’ve learned from many of these incidents and used them benchmarks to improve society as a whole. Society is forever evolving, and we must be cognizant of the fact that we all play a part in its metamorphosis. A similar movie to this I’ve seen is ‘Equilibrium’ with Christian Bale, which didn’t make the box office from what I understand and yet was a movie so many have suggested to me until I finally had the time to watch it. Excellent movie from the storyline to the choreography in which they fought with guns in a samurai type manner during a dystopian era where people took a drug to suppress their emotions. Similar to this movie, there was a major event that changed humanity and in this new world, they felt the suppressing of emotions would lead to no war, no fighting and all of the emotions they feel that caused human conflict amongst each other. Of course, such an extreme has a huge negative effect when emotions such as caring, love, and empathy no longer exist or at least shouldn’t with this new world order. As we know, there will always be a “rebel group” of sorts that will resist the government and similar here was a group of humans who wouldn’t let their emotions be controlled. As the movie progresses with Bale as an emotionless cop, he slowly starts to question the societal belief before eventually deciding to fully abstain from it when he sees a young woman executed because she chose to keep her emotions intact. I won’t elaborate much more, as I would highly recommend watching it if you’ve never had the chance since it doesn’t get the notoriety of its box office blockbuster film counterparts.