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Cold terrorist as a superhero

The filming of V for vendetta updates the cartoon's Thatcher criticism to a sharp warning about the consequences of today's terrorist terror.


[science fiction] What's happening in Hollywood? Just weeks after Syriana dissected the cynicism and conspiracy in American oil policy, V comes for the vendetta – where the hero is an icy terrorist who wants to blow up the British parliament.

We are in our near future. The United States has gone to war, while the United Kingdom has isolated itself as an authoritarian and fascist surveillance state where degenerate arts, gays, blacks, Muslims and regime critics are cleared of the way. A masked revenge called V takes up the fight against the regime, and 5. November he blasts Old Bailey Court in the air, accompanied by Tchaikovsky's 1812 overture and color-splitting fireworks. "Remember, remember, the fifth of November," he says, promising a revolution of the day a year later.

Catholic terror

Next Friday is the Norwegian premiere of the film based on author Alan Moore's first comic book novel, which has finally been translated into Norwegian. The main character V is reminiscent of black-clad superheroes à la Batman and the vampire hunter Blade, where he uses his cloak, martial arts, wall climbing and sharp knives to expedite his enemies. Our hero also hides behind a mask, a Guy Fawkes mask – an iconic face most English people know.

On November 5, 1605, the Catholic Guy Fawkes was taken with 36 barrels of gunpowder under the British Parliament London. He planned the 1600th century variant of September 11, 2001, and wanted to blow King James I, the queen, the heir to the throne and the Protestant aristocracy into heaven. November 5 is still marked as Guy Fawkes' Day with party, bonfire and fireworks. Fawkes dreamed of having nine-year-old Princess Elizabeth on the throne, with a Catholic nobleman as regent, so that Catholicism could once again become the official religion of the empire. V will overthrow the incumbent regime.

The comic started early in the 1980 century, in the shadow of Margaret Thatcher's reign and the fear of nuclear war, and is Moore's attempt at an updated version of George Orwell's 1984. He uses classic tools from science fiction, theater and superhero comics to criticize what he believed was an increasingly authoritarian British government.

In the series they lose the Conservative elections in 1982, Labor removes all the nation's nuclear weapons, thus sparing the country in a nuclear war that wiped out the European and African continent. In the chaos and fear of the war, the fascist party Nordild takes power. In the preface Moore wrote in 1988, after completing the series, he regrets his naive belief that it was possible to survive a nuclear war. He also regrets that he thought it needed something as melodramatic as a nuclear war to turn his homeland into a fascist state. “The tabloids are spreading the idea of ​​concentration camps for people with AIDS. The new rebel police have helmets with sooty visors, and the horses as well, and on the roof of their vans, they have rotating camcorders. The authorities have expressed a desire to eradicate homosexuality, even as an abstract term, and one can only speculate on which minority will be allowed a law next time, ”he wrote in 1988.

Anarchy vs. Peaceful Revolution

In the filming, the team behind The Matrix films, with a few small grips, updated V for vendetta to a brief commentary on today's society, and shows that there has not really been much that has changed since the 1980 century. Then communism and nuclear war constituted the enemy image, today it is Islam and terror. The common feature is the fear that permeates society, and calls for more control and surveillance to control what one believes are the causes of this fear.

The film is surprisingly close to the main lines of the series, but at one point the screenwriters Andy and Larry Wachowski separate teams with Alan Moore.

In both versions, V is portrayed as a masked avenger, a mixture of terrorist and resistance hero, who murders representatives of the government, but who never attacks innocents to spread fear. It is when we reach the goal of terror that the film sets a different course. V wants to undermine the government with killings and bombs, but in the film his ultimate goal is to inspire an oppressed people to revolution – even a peaceful revolution modeled on the velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia in 1989.

In the cartoon, V is looking for chaos and anarchy. Moore describes himself as a socio-anarchist, and V first wants to throw society into chaos. To pave the way for true anarchy. "Anarchy means 'without leaders'. Not 'without order', "as V says himself. For V, society has gone so far in the wrong direction that he sees no other option but to break it down, and then start again. "Anarchy has two faces. It both creates and destroys. Consequently, the destroyers overthrow empires: Create a canvas of pure gravel. Where the creators can then build a better world. As soon as you have gravel, further destruction becomes irrelevant, "explains V in the series. This aspect is absent in the film.

The smartest of the year

After all, From Hell, Constantine, Swamp Thing and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I can say that this is by far the best Moore filming, and also a good candidate for the smartest action and science fiction movie of the year. Tomorrow, Moore can also win the Sproing Prize for Best Translated Comic Book, and the film and comic book are both remarkable works. Both read in the shadow of 1980's England, and viewed in light of today's terror fear.

Like Margaret Thatcher, Moore showed that it didn't take a nuclear war or revolution for a democratic society to approach fascist and totalitarian tendencies, the fear of 11 shows. September us that the surveillance community is still not so far away. So never forget 5. November. n

Reviewed by Øyvind Holen

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