Over the past week, I’ve been reviewing the titles that I read during the Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. Today, however, in honor of Guy Fawkes Day (otherwise known as Bonfire Night), I’ve decided to take a quick break from my Readathon reviews to shine a spotlight on one of the books I read this week…V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore and David Lloyd (with Steve Whitaker and Siobhan Dodds).
“Remember, remember the Fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason and Plot. I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot…”V for Vendetta (2005)
V for Vendetta takes place in London less than a decade after a nuclear war. The country is under the tight control of a fascist governing body known as Norsefire, which has followed in the footsteps of other fascist parties that came before it, rounding up anyone that they view as undesirable or radical and sending them to “resettlement camps.”
This is the world in which Evey Hammond lives. The sixteen-year-old works in munitions, but comes to believe that prostitution is the only way she can get the money she needs to survive. On her first night on the street, she makes the mistake of propositioning a member of the city’s secret police, and is rescued by a mysterious, masked figure who eventually introduces himself as V.
V is engaged in a vendetta against several prominent members of the government, motivated not only by a need to gain personal vengeance, but also by the desire to take down the country’s fascist government, replacing it with anarchy.
This is the second time that I’ve read the comic book, and I found it just as interesting as I did the first time. Not only is the story exciting, but it is complex and makes you think. V for Vendetta presents a vision of the future that is all too plausible, making it a worthwhile read decades after its original publication.
While the book does not have a rating, the back cover does include a message that it is “suggested for mature readers.” I definitely would agree that that is the case. In addition to nudity and sexual situations, the book includes situations which may cause emotional distress for readers, such as: physical abuse, threats of rape, torture, and persecution relating to race, ethnicity, religion, and sexuality.
V for Vendetta is a pretty dark comic book, both in terms of its subject matter and its artwork. While the book is in full color, many of the brighter colors are muted, which gives the book a more gritty appearance. The art itself is very good, and includes a significant amount of detail.
In 2005, V for Vendetta was adapted into a movie, which starred Hugo Weaving as V and Natalie Portman as Evey. I really enjoy watching the movie (something I do nearly every November). It’s a very exciting film, with a great cast, as well as fantastic special effects and action sequences.
Every time I watch the movie, I’m always particularly impressed with Weaving’s portrayal of V. It’s not an easy thing to convey emotion when you are unable to use facial expressions, but Weaving does a phenomenal job of expressing V’s emotional state through his voice and body language. It’s incredible! I especially enjoy the moment when V introduces himself to Evey for the first time, as well as her response to his introduction.
EVEY HAMMOND: Are you, like, a crazy person?
V: I’m quite sure they will say so.V for Vendetta (2005)
While the movie is fantastic, I can’t say that it’s a 100% accurate representation of the original comic book. There are a significant number of differences, which some fans of the comic book may dislike.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the comic book and movie is V’s relationship with the concepts of anarchy and freedom. In the comic book, V is determined to bring down the country’s fascist government in favor of anarchy, creating a society which he refers to as the “Land of Do-As-You-Please.” In the movie, however, V seems more focused on the concept of freedom, and encouraging the people to take back power from a corrupt system of government.
Another difference between the comic book and movie is the characters. Some of the characters have undergone some changes, either in relation to their backstories or their actions. There are also several characters in the comic book who are just not present in the movie.
Where I think the movie outshines the comic book is in developing the characters of both V and Evey. Some of this is due to changes that were made to Evey’s character and her background. Aging her up even by a few years (I estimate that she’s in her early 20s in the movie) definitely makes a difference to the story. Even though she and V still meet when he saves her from the secret police, she is more wary of him initially than she is in the comic book, especially when she learns that he has killed someone and intends to do so again. Their interactions with each other feel more realistic as a result of this, and ultimately make their relationship more believable.
Although the movie is not a perfect adaptation of the comic book, I have to confess that I actually do like the movie version of V for Vendetta better. While I do enjoy the original story, the way in which the movie is presented is just more appealing to me as an audience member.
If you’re looking for a compelling story to spend some time with this November the 5th, I would definitely recommend checking out either the comic book or movie adaptation of V for Vendetta (or both). If you do have the opportunity to read the book, or watch the movie, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.