By Luke Jalsevac

March 24, 2006 ( – “Artists use lies to tell the truth, politicians use lies to cover it up,” claims V, the heroic V for Vendetta movie’s anti-hero with that soft, yet masculine voice that assures the audience of his great wisdom. This first half of this statement is a barely veiled self-congratulation on the part of V’s producers for their remarkable daring in using art to tell the truth. By the film’s end, however, I could not agree that politicians have a monopoly on covering up the truth; artists too can be quite adept at it.Â

Truth, freedom, and the power of words and ideas are central themes in this often cumbersome follow up project by The Matrix creator Wachowski brothers. Adapted from the graphic novel by Alan Moore it tells the story of a masked freedom fighter waging a solitary war against a fascist British government.

The first half hour of the movie is actually rather captivating as we learn that the masked crusader, always hidden behind a Guy Fawkes mask, intends to blow up the British Parliament in one year’s time as a symbolic gesture against the evil government and which he is convinced will result in the ushering in of a new world of freedom and peace.

The remaining two hours of the film, however, are intermittently convoluted, boring and preachy, although punctuated by spurts of engaging acting by Hugo Weaving (the character simply known as V), and Natalie Portman (Evey) who ends up joining him in his cause.Â

As the tale unfolds, what at first was merely a fascist British government, adept at controlling its citizens through constant Orwellian propaganda and lies, begins to take on rather fascinating dimensions; the fascists, it is revealed, are Conservatives and Christians. What would a Hollywood movie be without these essential themes after all? It’s too bad V for Vendetta wasn’t released in time for this year’s left-wing, agenda driven, lets-pat-ourselves-on-the-back-for-our-bravery-in-dealing-with-tough-issues” Oscars. Michael Moore could have presented V’s producers with the “best-Bush-and-Christian-bashing-fiction-movie” award.Â

We discover that there is a distressing lack of church-state separation in this fascist Britain – an extremely powerful Christian clergy exerts an iron-grip censorship power on an unwilling country. But not just any clergy of course; that would not get the point across strongly enough. No. What is needed is a powerful bishop, who before being a priest was involved in underground prisoner experiments, with a fetish for hearing the confessions of young girls; not in the confessional, but rather in his ornate room complete with a wooden four post canopy bed.

Naturally, a Bush-run, I mean Christian-run, fascist state would not be sympathetic to the Koran, so owning one is an offence punishable by death. One character, a late Night Jay Leno type of talk show host, has a secret vault of many prohibited items including a British and American flag surrounding a Swastika (Americans are Nazi’s! … subtle, very subtle.), and an old, beautifully bound ancient Koran. He explains, when Evey asks him if he is a Muslim, that although he is not, he is able to appreciate its beautiful images. Evey is greatly impressed with his bravery in owning a Koran since its possession would result in his death if discovered. And to make sure that we don’t dismiss this statement as hyperbole, he is later captured and indeed executed for owning the Koran. Those Christians sure can be intolerant.

Oh, and did I mention that this talk show host also happened to be gay? Because of the Christian fundamentalist Nazi-like oppression of homosexuals he had to hide his sexuality from the deadly morality police by regularly having beautiful young women over to his house. The implicit result? Anyone who is against homosexuality is thereby for killing homosexuals.

The most poignant scene by far is when Evey, while in prison, finds the dying letter of a woman who had been in the same cell years before. As Evey reads the letter we are shown flashbacks of the life of this poor victim of state oppression.

After discovering in high school she was a lesbian, she falls in love with a beautiful girl and they end up living together. Flash to scenes of lesbian ‘marital’ bliss. Cue soft lighting. House with a big bay window with the bright sun streaming in. Tea time. A red rose garden in full bloom in the background as the two lovers tenderly embrace… Cut to actual footage of the war in Iraq. Mayhem. Destruction. Chaos…. Cut back to delicate lighting, gentle happiness… Back to the harsh grainy footage from Iraq. More chaos… Back to soft lighting. Peace, tranquility… Soldiers burst into house. Gasp! Iraq has come to Bush, I mean Ameri…. I mean Britain. Are they the same? Gasp! Lovers separated from each other and dragged screaming from ‘marital’ bliss and thrown into prison. Those intolerant Christi… I mean fascists do such terrible things when they are in power.

Not surprisingly, Alan Moore, the creator of the graphic novel the movie is based on, distanced himself from the movie. “The script is rubbish,” he said in an interview. In his novel, V is an anarchist fighting against fascist extremism. Moore, who describes himself as something of an anarchist, purposely pitted these two extremes against each other to challenge his readers. In an interview he stated:

“…the central question is, is this guy right? Or is he mad? What do you, the reader, think about this? Which struck me as a properly anarchist solution. I didn’t want to tell people what to think, I just wanted to tell people to think.”

Any good Hollywood liberal knows better than that of course. Letting people think can be extremely dangerous. The Wachowski brothers save the audience from this unpleasant burden by recasting these extremes as current American neo-conservatism against current American liberalism. The result? No need to think. Conservatives are evil. Liberal ‘freedom fighters’ are good.
  V has received largely positive reviews from the critics, praising it for supposedly challenging audiences to think and raising timely questions about terrorism, when violence might be justified, and the power of government. By the end, the only thought running through my head was what a shame I had spent almost $15 on a propaganda piece that didn’t offer much character development or depth to compensate for being beat over the head with its message.