Graphic novels are always great sources for filmmakers. It has all the good parts of a regular novel – plot, setting, character development, etc. – and a solid storyboard complete with emotion. This is why we get such awesome films like Watchmen, 300, Sin City, and the Dark Knight (although there is no such graphic novel under the title “Dark Knight” that I am aware of, I am of the belief that this film was based on at least two of Batman’s graphic novels – The Long Halloween and The Killing Joke). They’re all visually stunning and pack a powerful intellectually stimulating punch. Watching these films over and over again always leaves me feeling satisfied. Which is weird, considering that after watching V for Vendetta the second time, I can’t help feeling empty.
It’s not the fact that the film is “all out,” meaning it doesn’t disguise its intended message or revelation to the audience. It’s quite clear and open about it’s views on totalitarianism and anarchy. Which makes me wonder if the film was supposed to be a political film at all. I definitely don’t feel inspired to become some sort of revolutionary, but even on the intellectual level, I can’t really say that I’ve been moved or offered some new kind of perspective. It wasn’t like seeing Watchmen, wherein I had to come to terms with whether I agreed with Ozymandias, or not – that even though his “peace” was manufactured, it was peace nonetheless. The same thing happens every time I watch the Dark Knight. Oftentimes, the truth isn’t good enough, and perhaps lying is the only recourse for the common good.
The kinds of films that leave me torn between condemning or condoning are my absolute favorites. But after watching V for Vendetta, I’m still wondering what the whole point was. As a political film, I must say that it fails. There wasn’t much of a revolution in V for Vendetta. Yes, they all gathered and watched Parliament get blown to Kingdom-come, but then what? Maybe I’m a bit conventional and old-school, but if you’re going to talk about revolution, you better bring it, son.
One of the most kick-ass games of all time is Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption. The game is set in the 1900’s on the Western Frontier, particularly in New Austin, Texas. In the story, the protagonist is a former outlaw who is being coerced by the Federal Bureau to hunt down and kill the criminals he used to ride with. His mission eventually takes him to Mexico wherein yet another revolution is taking place. Eventually, the player must participate in the uprising and help to overthrow the Mexican tyrants.
This part of the game touches on many issues of politics, and quite frankly, delivers them in darker and grittier methods than V for Vendetta. One of the characters, a schoolteacher named Luisa says, “There can be no revolution without blood. We all must suffer and sacrifice if things are to get better in Mexico.” Another character quips, “If a hungry man cries to you for help, will you put an arm around his shoulder, or beat him till he grows food for himself? Western idealism has no place in a poor country like Mexico. There is only violence and politics.” Absolutely brilliant. Even more so since, to some degree, it reflects the state of Philippine politics and poverty.
V for Vendetta, in my opinion, doesn’t offer anything close. V talks about blood, but there’s hardly any to go around. Sure, he kills a bunch of guys, but most of them are just useless bodyguards. The people don’t get their hands dirty, unlike in Red Dead Redemption. Although V for Vendetta falls short several levels, the one thing I do appreciate about the film is the sequence wherein V subjects Evey to a fabricated imprisonment in order for her to truly experience what it is to be without fear. I would have liked it better if the film had touched more on the subject of V’s extremist methods and its possible justifications.
Although ideas are “bulletproof,” they aren’t always apparent. The idea of this film remains as much a mystery to me as the man behind the mask.