Tag Archives: John Hurt

On Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s “V for Vendetta”

10 Mar
The Guy Fawkes mask has become a global phenomenon thanks to Alan Moore and David Lloyd's V for Vendetta.

The Guy Fawkes mask has become a global phenomenon thanks to Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta.

What do you do when your government controls every aspect of your life? When propaganda replaces education? When art and culture and autonomy are slowly but surely stolen away? Well, we know from history and literature that there are quite a few ways to deal with totalitarian oppression. Winston Smith commits thoughtcrimes. Katniss Everdeen starts a rebellion (and put a bird on it). Guy Fawkes tried to blow up Parliament. Most of us, though–admit it–would probably just let it happen. In Alan Moore’s graphic novel V for Vendetta, Evey Hammond is willing to live out her whole life under the thumb of England’s new, fascist government, until she comes to a rude awakening through an encounter with a masked vigilante. The criminal/terrorist/vigilante/hero/Codename V rescues Evey from dirty cops who are about to rape and murder her, and from then on takes her under his wing (read: “awesome cape”). In the Shadow Gallery, V’s home, Evey’s eyes are opened to the horrors of the world she lives in, and she learns of the beauty of a reality filled with books, paintings, love, and anarchy. She also learns how to dismantle a tyrannical government V’s way. It isn’t with flowers and protests, but with blood and fire.

Although Moore and Lloyd made a splash in the graphic novel community with their modern classic, the story of V and his violent dissent became popular after the film adaptation was released in 2005. The adapted the screenplay by The Matrix‘s Wachowski siblings and lead roles played by Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving drew huge crowds and a reinvigorated cult fandom for the masked vigilante.

Thanks to V, everyone, and I mean everyone, remembers the fifth of November.

Thanks to V, everyone–and I mean everyone–remembers the fifth of November.

At first I thought movie Evey had a little more autonomy and personality than the graphic novel Evey, but it became more and more apparent that Moore’s incredible character design had plans for our heroine. She metamorphosed from a shallow, uncultured teenager to an educated, passionate, robust butterfly. Or person. Whether you agree with Moore’s anarchic politics and whether or not you agree with using violence as a means to a peaceful end, you must admit that Evey’s change is as satisfying as it is traumatizing. The film’s Evey experienced less transformation, since she was seen to be relatively competent in her pre-V life.

In the  E2005 film adaptation directed by James McTeigue and written by the Wachowski siblings, Evey is portrayed by Natalie Portman, who actually shaved her head on camera during her imprisonment scenes. I appreciate the film's adherence to Moore's simple but powerful imagery.

In the 2005 film adaptation (directed by James McTeigue and written by the Wachowski siblings), Evey is portrayed by Natalie Portman, who actually shaved her head on camera during her imprisonment scenes. I appreciate the film’s adherence to Moore’s simple but powerful imagery.

While Codename V has garnered all the attention, started a cult following, and probably made Guy Fawkes the most popular mask of the century, Moore really shows us (whether intentional or not) that this story is all about Evey. V is her mentor, and while he has fascinating back story, he is less a character than idea and the instigator of Evey’s growth. His growth happened in another story and at another time. V for Vendetta is Evey’s story. She is the real protagonist and the real hero. She is the Every(wo)man who steps up and takes responsibility and takes action and takes back control from the oppressive government, sadistic prison guards, and indoctrinating propagandists. At one point, V begins calling Evey by a shortened nickname (or perhaps her real, adult name): “Eve.” She is the first woman, the mother of all, the one who, to some, brought sin into the world, and, to others, reintroduces morality into this universe. Because of V, Eve begins the education of the world to teach right from wrong and defies the deified government. I’ll be honest: I started reading V for Vendetta fully expecting a shallow, air-headed protagonist that some of my friends convinced me I would find, but Moore and Lloyd surprised me with excellent character development and story-telling, not to mention their fantastic artistry, though they fell short in converting me to anarchy.

Read it if … you have a thing for masked men or anarchy or weird graphic novel fonts. The book is not as action-packed as the film adaptation would have you think, so come to this novel looking for political exposition and solid character development.

Don’t read it if … you wanted to read a superhero comic, or if anarchists killed your family. This book is preachy in some parts, and some of us can’t turn off the constant internal (or verbal) criticism of preachy books.

This book is similar to … other books written by Alan Moore. He’s a singular guy, and there certainly aren’t an abundance of talented graphic novelists who use their chosen medium as a political standard.

Alan Moore is famous for V for Vendetta and Watchmen, his work with DC's Batman. He identifies as an anarchist, a ceremonial magician, a father, a writer

Alan Moore is famous for his graphic novels V for Vendetta and Watchmen, his work with DC’s Batman, and just being a general bad-ass. He identifies as an anarchist, a ceremonial magician, a father, a writer, and probably a lot of other things that aren’t on his Wikipedia page.

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