The Reel: “V for Vendetta” a November tradition

Ben Conniff

“Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason and Plot. I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot…”

Anyone who logged into Facebook or Twitter yesterday morning likely read the endless list of statuses and tweets containing these lines in commemoration of November 5th, which in Great Britain is Guy Fawkes Day. This 19th century English folk rhyme also serves as the opening lines for the 2005 film “V for Vendetta,” about a freedom fighter who uses the ideals that Guy Fawkes once stood for to fight against his totalitarian English society.

This freedom fighter, known only as “V,” even wears a mask resembling Fawkes when exacting revenge against those responsible not only for the fear and tyranny plaguing the whole country, but also for ruining his life.

It’s easy to see from the infinite number of status updates and tweets that “V for Vendetta” is still a very popular film, but it’s popular for good reason. This is an immensely entertaining vision of the future that is thought-provoking, terrifying, witty, and strong on plot and character development. The film makes a few political assertions that some may find irksome, but there is little otherwise to not love about “V for Vendetta.”

The film is written by Andy and Lana Wachowski of “Matrix” fame and is probably the most exciting political thriller I’ve ever seen. I enjoy the twists the plot undergoes as well as the performances by the entire cast. I give special props to Natalie Portman for her portrayal of Evey Hammond, the lead female character and only ally of our masked antihero, V. Portman shaved off her real hair for the scene in which she is held captive and tortured for information regarding V’s whereabouts. Talk about commitment to character.

The only criticism I have of this film is a minor complaint. I don’t mind the politics because I understand that they are all used for the purpose of telling a great story. I just find the ending to be highly improbable, even for the stylized world that the film takes place in. V places explosives on a subway train for the purpose of attacking the Houses of Parliament. The train reaches its destination, but I should think an explosion originating underground at the building’s center wouldn’t cause the Big Ben clock tower to explode violently from bottom to top, unless V placed explosives there that the audience doesn’t know about. Regardless, it’s a minor criticism that doesn’t ruin the film’s overall effect.

Finally, anyone who has seen “V for Vendetta” has to have some affection not necessarily for V’s beliefs, but for the way he delivers them.

“Behind this mask there is more than flesh. Behind this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof,” V said in a final act of defiance against England’s chief of secret police.

It’s an intense scene from a film I’m certain is etched in the memory of everyone who posted Facebook statuses or tweeted in reference.

Ben Conniff is a Villa Hills sophomore majoring in marketing with a minor in film studies. For more of his commentary, follow him on Twitter @thereelbennyc