“V for Vendetta: The Most Crucial Film of Our Time”

Original Story
The Spectator, 2010

With the last entry of the infamous Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy now in the distant memories of people (or in a carefully picked spot on their shelves), newly-made fans of the modern superhero epic have only the future to look forward to. …Or as another masked-man in a Guy-Fawkes mask would so eloquently put in his calm poetic demeanor, “The past is where untold stories of triumph and struggle await to inspire.” …and that is where the world-changing power of ideas reside!

The set-up in V for Vendetta goes like this: In a not-so-distant future, the UK becomes a totalitarian government tightly controlled by a fascist political party after disease and war leave many other world powers decimated. But then after many years of controlling the lives of the common people in the name of “safety,” a vigilante and revolutionary known only by the letter “V” puts into motion an elaborate campaign to ignite a revolution that causes a profound ripple effect in the country. Eventually, he is able to convince the masses to seize power from their leader’s regime and the right to govern themselves. As the movie’s famous tagline goes, “People shouldn’t be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”

In just the first few minutes, V for Vendetta dishes out enough masterfully written dialogue and moments to make a person think for a lifetime. But ironically, this movie at the time of it’s release was a well-received cult-hit at best.

If the Dark Knight was a trilogy about the power of one and becoming a beacon of hope in a society overrun by crime, V for Vendetta is about the power of the many, becoming the cause for change in a society controlled by the elite. It’s a story where the common people realize that the most powerful transformative tool they have is the power of their numbers to demand what is theirs: their integrity, their voice and most of all: their freedom.

To this day, I’ve never seen a movie filled with so many messages as this one, and I don’t think there could be a movie more relevant to the time we live in with authoritarian regimes rising all over the world (including the United States.) V for Vendetta is a movie that could show future generations that they have the power to change anything they want in society they deem unjust or wrong no matter the oligarch, dictator or corporation of the time.

Vendetta does the impossible and creates a world with a believable interwoven history and society that shows us how any nation can go from one that truly values freedom and liberty to one that can masterfully control and delude the masses. This film plays out much like a game of chess where it has a board piece representing every player in such a scenario: a strongman leader, fear-mongering and scapegoating, state-run gatekeeping media, organized religion and the participation of influential institutions. V for Vendetta is a slideshow for “Human History 101.”

As did the graphic novel it’s based off, Vendetta engages us in a conversation about human nature when given power, laws, systems and security to control others. It’s a story about the fight and struggle for freedom, inalienable rights and human decency in the face of corruption, greed or hatred.

Indeed, one actually has to break out some philosophy books to try and encapsulate the many political and historical archetypes this movie uses. One quote felt especially relevant, as Karl Marx himself wrote, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” Or more fundamentally put, “…the powerful and the powerless.”

It’s no wonder why this movie inspired many libertarian, anarchist and revolutionary movements around the world, including the Anonymous “Hackivist” movement. This movie even shows us how a single person’s life, at any point in the history of justice, can be another essential domino that was needed in someday achieving a future worth  fighting for… and worth dying for.

Vendetta is a film so versed in its subject matter that it’s littered with images that can be found in many books and are already imprinted in the minds of every free-thinker and activist. The last scene alone, I’m sure, may someday go down in film history as one of the most powerful images in cinema: hundreds of thousands of masked citizens marching down main street straight into their government’s armed military.

Obviously, I couldn’t possibly recommend this movie enough; not just to watch, but to think about long after it’s over. Everyone should watch this film. I encourage all of us to think about the power we have within our liberties and rights to organize in ways that we may be taking for granted. I’m talking about all those things can be taken away from us so easily in the name of “security” or “divine right.” We may be giving tyrants the power they want now in the name of “patriotism” or “political loyalty,” sealing our fate by letting them persecute other people who are not us… 

Don’t let them.

“Freedom forever.”

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

-Martin Niemöller

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