Saturday, March 18, 2006

Vendetta: L for Libertarianism?

Reading all the nasty reviews of V for Vendetta you would think that it's a movie about Osama bin Ladin produced by the communist propagandist
Willi M├╝nzenberg
and directed by Hitler's favorite film-makerLeni Riefenstahl (if she only had left for Hollywood in the early 1930's, she would have been the recipient of several Oscars). Normonson (John Podhoretz)bashes it in the Weekly Standard "an Atlas Shrugged for leftist lunatics." The more intelligent Stephen Hunter complains in the
Washington Postthat it's not as good as George Orwell's "1984" in terms of "evoking dyspotia" but then expresses his revulsion over the movie's "tasteless celebration of explosive devices taking down famous London landmarks, which invites us to cheer as another step" against the fascistic regime depicted in "Vendetta." And then there is David Denby in the New Yorker whose reviews I usually find very instructive who really hates the movie and calls is a "dunderheaded pop fantasia that celebrates terrorism and destruction." He is also angry that the movie mish-mashed elements from "A Clockwork Orange," Lindsay Anderson’s 1968 "If . . ." "The Phantom of the Opera," "Batman," "Darkman" and, yes, Orwell's "1984." (he forgot to mention "The Mark of Zorro;"and please google for links to this movies).And by focusing the plot on the blowing-up of the British Parliament, the producers of the movie "have stumbled into celebrating an attack against an icon of liberal democracy," Denby writes. Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal (need to pay to register) also writes that "Vendetta" celebrates terrorism and that it's "beset by incoherence and implausibilities that are perplexing."
Well, let's start by admitting that neither the Wachowski brothers (Andy and Larry who created the "Matrix" trilogy) nor Alan Moore and David Lloyd (who are behind the comic book series by the same name) look like, sound like, think like or write like Orwell. And, yes, the movie borrows from many other movies which is believe it or not something quite common in Hollywood where incidently the plots of many (most?) movies are "beset by incoherence and implausibilities" and include scenes where national monumets (including the White House) are blown-up quite frequently. So why are you guys picking up on "Vendetta?" Is it because you don't like its political message? That's clearly the case when it comes to Podhoretz, Hunter and other pro-Bush/Iraq-war fanatics. As The Economist (which loved the movie, calling it "a pot-boiler from the olden days" whose "tale of doomed love and derring-do may bring lump to the throat")puts it:
as for the dystopian fable, only fans of detention centres, torture, unfettered government surveillance, screaming-mad television pundits and laws against alternative lifestyles will find anything here that could possibly offend.

Exactly my feeling. This is the best libertarian/anti-state movie I've seen for a very long time, well, since Terry Gillian's "Brazil" (Google). Yes, I know there is some anti-capiltalism stuff in the movie, although it's directed more against "crony-capitalism" (Big Business working together with Big Government; and I'm not sure why the the Fascist dictator played by the magnificent John Hurt had to be a member of the Conservative Party when it's New Labor under Tony Blair that has been responsible together with Bush for the bloody mess in Iraq (including Abu Gharib) and its effects at home (violations of civil liberties, etc.). And "Vendetta" with its many references to the Bush Administration -- its exploitation of post-9/11 fears, of crude nationalism, and of religion, and its attempts to curb civil rights in the name of "national security" (the actors talk about "rendition" and there are scenes in which secret police repeatedly throw black hoods over people’s heads)-- doesn't imply that Bush is a Fascistic dictator. But it provides us of the sense of the kind of nightmare society that Long Wars and submissive press and politicians can produce, in which civil order is crushed by fear and in which citizens become the servants of the state. The mysterious "V" played by Hugo Weaving is someone who’s been tortured and profoundly damaged by the state, and has become dark avenging angel who’s out to take revenge on the perpetrators of the torture, those who control the state that has been hijacked by militarized fascists and religious crackpots. "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people," says Evey, the young rebel played by Natalie Portman, who reluctantly becomes like "V" an Enemy of the State. But this is not a liberal-democratic state represnted by the current British Parliament. It's a dictatorship that has taken over the British Parliament. And let's not forgest that we continue to celebrate here those American rebels who blew up many buildings controlled by that tyranical English King that violated their god-given rights. Indeed, as Evey points at the end of the movie, when when confronted by such a tyranical state, each one of us should become an Enemy of the State.


Herman said...

I haven't been able to finish reading it, but I believe the fascist government in the graphic novel was originally a Labour government. said...

It seemed to me that in most all the negative reviews (and even some of the positive reviews), people were (for some reason) getting too tied up in the similarities to modern day events. To me, this doesn't make VforV some leftist propaganda, it just makes VforV a relevant movie about what can happen when people stop keeping a vigilent eye over the government.

If you really want a good laugh, check out Debbie Schlussel's review (You can get there via a link on my review of VforV. Take a look around at some of my other posts (ones by Neal - you might like my post on France, for example). Let me know what you think.