Sunday, April 23, 2006

V for Vendetta

Because of the delayed release in Japan, for better or for worse it has been the fate of this weblog to only comment on movies after the stateside buzz has already died away, and people have moved onto other things. (For example, my blog reviews of Lost in Translation, Troy, The Passion, Fahrenheit 911, Star Wars III, and Team America.) And since this has never stopped me from chipping in my two cents before, I don’t see why it should now.

I read a lot about this movie and its anarchist themes before I saw it. For example this web editorial encourages anarchists to use the movie as an educational tool. And I noticed from my cousin Dave’s blog that Emma Goldman's famous quote, “If I can't dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution," was paraphrased in the movie. Any movie that quotes Emma Goldman gets points in my book.

Unfortunately however that little quote was the only reference to Emma Goldman I found. Neither Emma Goldman nor any other anarchists are mentioned by name in the movie. Instead, the historical figure that the movie revolves around is Guy Fawkes. And whatever legitimate grievances Guy Fawkes might have had against the British parliament, he was not an anarchist. He was a catholic extremist who wanted to replace protestant rule with Catholic one. He would not have approved of Emma Goldman or any anarchist platform. I understand that he’s been co-opted as a symbol of resistance to government, but if every right wing kook who wants to blow up government buildings becomes an anarchist symbol, is the movement going to be wearing Timothy McVeigh T-shirts in 400 years?

Nor does the level of political sophistication in the movie appear to rise above Guy Fawkes. The solution advocated is simply to blow shit up. Blow up enough buildings and the masses will spontaneously arise and create a utopian society. No platform or organizing work necessary.
( I've gone over many of these same issues about the strategic value of sporadic violence, and I won't repeat myself here.)

Right now you’re probably thinking that I’m just taking this movie too seriously. (Us political types are never much fun to go to the movies with.) I should just grab some popcorn, watch the cool fight scenes and the explosions, and be grateful that at the very least this isn’t another one of those damn patriotic war movies. I should just be happy that at least it’s a Hollywood movie with subversive themes woven in, and not scrutinize it too much for doctrinal correctness.

And I tried to watch the movie with that attitude. I really did. I went into the theater telling myself I wasn’t going to take it too seriously. But what spoils this is that the movie takes itself too seriously. Any movie that stops the action frequently to preach at you is hard to classify as a popcorn movie.

I’ve not read the graphic novel on which the movie is based, so I can’t comment on that. Apparently the graphic novel is more overtly anarchist, and much of this was taken out for the transition to Hollywood. Websites like talk about the differences between the movie and the comic book. Interesting stuff to check out if anyone is interested.

Useless Wikipedia Fact
Sean Connery was involved in a minor scandal while filming "You Only Live Twice" when he stated that he didn't find Japanese women sexy.

Link of the Day
Amnesty's report on the USA's secret torture program.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Darn. I hate it when I feel like I totally missed something. And the political inaccoracies of this movie and anarchy never crossed my mind.

My dad and I did talk about how a few choice scenes were anti-bush and joked that it would brainwash him to be ironic joke because I am defiently not a bush supporter...

but yeah, now I feel silly for being all excited about the explosion scenes and not seeing what you see. I am one of those people who loves to over-analyze movies. I am a virgo, after all. ;)