Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Film Review: V For Vendetta

Note that this is a review inspired more by a thread here than the film itself. When it comes to anarchism in the cinema, its rare the silver screen gives it a fair tossing over. Loach may have been kind in following the Poum and CNT, but films like "The Anarchist Cookbook" do as much to conflate anarchism with fascism and violence as explore its worth as a political philosophy. There's another appaling German one called "What to do in case of fire" about a gang of ex-squatter members of an art collective that models itself stylistically on the RAF. As an art prank they set a bomb in an empty house and twenty years later it goes off, no ones injured but the five are forced to revisit their past in the autonome mileu, facing up to their own sell out and co-option. Of course one has remained pure to heart and watched his movement decay, no surprise by the end he ends up identifying more with the special branch cop who's been trailing him for years than his ex-comrades.

On V - it was an alright movie, it carried you through for the hour with all the edge of the seat excitment a good action flick should have. There were some substantial jarrings with the original comic that did my head in quite a bit. The updating to a post-911 scenario is really an idiots trick to assuage demands for some form of intellectualism in a generally arid Hollywood. Leaving it intact as a commentary on the fascistic aspects of states inspired by Thatcher would have been far more useful politically. It would have avoided the trap of counterposing a boring and uninspired American liberalism to a fascist state with a figure head as threatening as Dr X from Action Man. I think that at least, was Alan Moore's big problem with the film and why he had his name taken off it.

Another telling way this was just a cash cow with a very subtle political overtone was the amount of action sequences. V gets armed with knives in this, whereas in the comic he twarts his chasers and enemies with tricks and the force of his intellect - the film makers just give us some fancy action sequences for the third class bully boys. Also leaving out Finch's acid trip to get inside V's mind in Larkhill was a strange dumping of what could have been an interesting cinematic sequence. As for the final rebellion and the destruction of parliment - whatever, a nice rushy end to a standard action movie with its deeper political content dumped for a Rage Against The Machine "fuck you I won't clean up my bedroom" climax.

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