“We are told to remember the idea, not the man because a man can fail. He can be caught, he can be killed and forgotten, but 400 years later, an idea can still change the world.” The film V for Vendetta directed by James McTeigue is a movie set in an alternate future where the British government is shown to be running in accordance with what could be referred to as a Nordic supremacist and neo-fascist regime. This visual text shows the audience how a film written as a fictional graphic novel set in the near future, isn’t as far away from reality as we may like to think. Two key scenes that show the honest brutality of this film is the Domino scene and the final fight scene. James McTeigue utilises cinematography techniques along with editing to create a montage that leaves the audience in awe of what has just happened and gain a response from within. In this film, we are shown the true power of ideas and how an idea is impenetrable, even when it is the government trying to kill the flesh behind the idea.
In the hectic domino scene, the audience is shown a montage that follows numerous individual characters such and Evey, the young girl with the glasses and V. This Montage shown alongside varying non-diegetic sequences of sound, creates the effect of suspense and shows the magnitude of how one man with justified ideas can impact and cause the situation that is unfolding. Non-Diegetic sound is sound that is not naturally occurring in the scene, such as the gradually growing “marching” sound that is added over the scene in situations during the montage. In this scene, we follow characters throw montage, with the montage cutting between these characters and a variety of government representatives such as Mr.Creedy and the Chancellor Adam Sutler. The effect of “almost staging” the scenes in this order can be interpreted in seeing the character, being shown the government, and then the effect the government has had on that character. Or we are able to watch what looks like the whole British government fall to pieces, all while v builds his domino structure. it appears through the use of non-diegetic sound and the clips of terror, chaos, and destruction, everything is simply falling into place, for V’s plan anyway. For Example, we follow the young girl with glasses who is shown as a young vandal, she is shown flocking freely, whilst wearing the mask and cape, we are then shown clips cutting back and forward of the girl and the government where we hear Eric Finch remark “But I can guess, with so much chaos, someone will do something stupid”. We then see a close-up shot of a man holding a gun where the audience looks directly down the barrel, it is then the young girl is shot. “and when they do, things will turn nasty”. In this scene the audience is able to follow Evey’s movements, Evey appears in this scene as if her eyes are being “opened” to the true impact and vastness of what V is trying to achieve. Whilst following Evey through the scene, frequently wandering, looking around aimlessly, we are able to notice Evey’s non-diegetic sound is a strings instrument, this builds a sense of innocence and reinforces the idea that she is realising the true intensity of V’s actions. It can be seen in the reverse where when seeing V in his series of montage clips, he is seen only in close up shots of him placing his dominos with the non-diegetic sound of a deep wind instrument such as a clarinet. Which is much harsher in a direct comparison to Evey’s clips. It could be argued that Evey represents the rest of the civilian population where, everything is falling into place and the government is starting to look more and more at fault, with Evey and the rest of the population being shown in a role of innocence.
“Now that’s done with, its time to take a look at your face; take off your mask”, Spoken from a true antagonist; Mr Creedy the head of the secret police (“the Fingermen”), is shown in conversation through the use of mid shots. Shown in edited cuts forward and back between Mr Creedy and V, the audience is able to experience the long-awaited encounter between the ill-behaved government and the “right-minded terrorist”. It is fair to say the encounter was nothing less of what could have been predicted. We are shown a camera shot that pans vertically upwards to a close up of Vs face, this shot with the use of the symbolic mask and dialogue leave the audience in suspense as to whether they should laugh or cry. The Mask shown close up in this segment portrays irony within the situation. The mask is shown to have a mischievous smile, which of course does not match the overall feeling of the scene, shown bluntly and clearly on Mr Creedy’s face, with the mask “mocking” Mr Creedy, right till his death. “No, what you have are bullets and the hope that when your guns are empty I won’t be standing”. It is after this, the conversation between Mr Creedy and V is over. The audience is then shown V, shot at by Mr.Creedy and his 9 Fingermen. Editing is used to show each individual bullet that is shot at V, with the audience being placed behind and to the side of V, it is as if Mr Creedy and the Fingerman are shooting directly at the viewer. The significance of this 12-second segment of bullets is that flesh or blood can be killed, but only an idea, an Idea is bulletproof. We are shown mid shots, over the shoulder shots from V and the sidemens perspectives, all whilst V is being shot at. It is evident through the rounds of bullets that were fired at V although he appears knocked down, battered and dead, he stands back up with a close up shot on V’s mask with a chipped cheek and it is here we hear him take a breath, this close up shot used with the enhanced breath in, creates a feeling of fear and a victory inside the viewer. When the audience is able to relate in such a way to V, it is easy and even natural to feel a connection to him, he is the underdog, who comes back to win all and show that he shouldn’t be underestimated. “Beneath this mask, there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask, there is an idea, Mr Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.
“No one will ever forget that night and what it meant for this country. But I will never forget the man and what he meant to me.” V for Vendetta is a film that I was sceptical about viewing. After watching this film, it is certainly a film I would watch again and have been recommending to others. This visual text shows the audience how a film written as a fictional graphic novel set in the near future, isn’t as far away from reality as we may like to think. James McTeigue shows his audience the true power of an idea and how an idea is impenetrable.
“Remember, remember the fifth of November of gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.”