Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Excuse me sir, but can I interest you in subscribing to "Good Housekeeping"?

I deliberately stayed away from watching V for Vendetta for a couple of weeks to avoid the crowds and all. And as much as possible I didn't want to hear any reaction from friends and other folks who watched the movie ahead of me, although I did hear comments and comparisons between the theme of this movie with the current US government. Like we don't have enough problems with the local political situation, Lord knows I've had enough of politics and the last thing I want to hear or watch is another movie loaded with subtle messages from the director and producer bombarding its unsuspecting audiences with propaganda. So did the movie perform up to par minus the afforementioned hidden messages? Well, yes and no.

As is the case with most previous movie adaptations I haven't read the original material this movie was adapted from so I couldn't rightly say if the Wachowski Brothers did great or not. All I could say at this point that I had a pretty good time absorbing every minute details strewn along the story (thanks to the waning of a friend who said it may require a second viewing for him to get everything). There's not much to say about how the directors handled the adaptation, however I do have a lot to say about the similarities between this and George Orwell's classic, 1984. Yes, the original Big Brother who uses television to monitor people. Was this a conscious effort on the part of Mr. Moore? The "V" symbols, the totalitarian state ruled by a dictator using the idiot box to spread fear and manipulate their constituents, etc.? The filmmakers claim to be inspired by Clockwork Orange (1972) when they created the look for this film. But other than the futuristic setting in Britain, I see no other factors that could support that claim (if indeed they said it). What of the use of big screens projecting the image of their beloved dictator which in an ironic twist the part of the dictator is now being played by John Hurt while he was the protagonist/victim in the movie adaptation of Mr. Orwell's story.

Still it was an interesting movie to watch starting with the idea of a masked rebel spouting a dose of tongue twister liberally peppered with words starting with "V" without tripping is something else:
"Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is it vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose so let me simply add that it's my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V."
That, the weird Guy Fawkes mask, his genius in turning things around in his favor inspite of the fact that he gave a public announcement/warning on television, his manipulating Adam Sutler's (John Hurt) men against him, the very idea that he stood for, the freedom from tyranny, and mostly because of the way he carried himself. All credits belong to Hugo Weaving for fleshing out such an unforgettable character with the use of his voice. Natalie Portman also made quite an impact as the lost Eve whose character changed from being a scared little girl into someone who'd rather give up her life for an ideal she fiercely believes in. It would have worked out for me too if not for the romantic tragedy inserted halfway through the movie. Was it in the original material? Was it the Wachowski brother's idea to insert a love story involving two women to spell out the idea of oppression? Why use lesbians instead of a man and a woman as it was with 1984? The romance between the two protagonists, Winston Smith (John Hurt) and Julia (Suzanna Hamilton) were just as forbidden and hidden from the watchful eyes of Big Brother. They were also caught, beat up, and probably killed too I can't remember much about the ending from this old film. It was as depressing as the one shown in this film. Surely the impact of persecution and oppression is the same, right? But aside from this personal rant in an otherwise touching film it's still great. I'm not too crazy about it, but it's still worth the cash we plunked down.

Also, I think it's worth mentioning that the website Gadget Madness saw the same things as I did (pictured above) when they pointed out the similarities of this bit of production design with the Apple Computer ad (which in turn was inspired by the movie "1984," also the year it was shown) seen below:

The coming of the Mac. It's a historic moment, I know. Lastly do check out the site of Heyoka Magazine that plays soundbites from 1984 along a shot of Big Brother on the screen. Stare into the eyes of Big Brother while listening to the audio to get the full effect.

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this good movie.

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