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When the terrorist is the hero

IV for Vendetta the hero is a terrorist in England. Now both the comic book and the filmization are coming to Norway.


5. November, 1605: Catholic Guy Fawkes is taken on the peach with 36 barrels of gunpowder during the Houses of Parliament in London. Had he not been discovered, England would have experienced the 1600 number variant of 11. September 2001. Fawkes and his co-conspirators planned to blow King James I, the Queen, the heir to the throne, and the Protestant aristocracy of the English Parliament to heaven.

5. November, 1997: Houses of Parliament are blown up in the air by a lone terrorist, wearing a robe, hat and Guy Fawkes mask. With the help of further terror and assaults, the man, who calls himself V, kneels the English government.


"The Gunpowder Plot" in 1605 is the curriculum in English history, and November 5 is still an important date in England. It is marked as Guy Fawkes' Day, with both party, bonfire and fireworks. The British Empire does not mark military victories as the battle of Trafalgar or Waterloo, but a failed assassination attempt.

The terror of 1997 is of course pure fiction. It takes place in the first chapter of the influential cartoon V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. It was written in 1981 to 1988, but only comes in Norwegian now – perfectly timed for the 400th anniversary of "The Gunpowder Plot". Not only that: the team behind the "The Matrix" trilogy is currently putting the finishing touches on the film adaptation, which will have its US premiere in March next year. In the United States, a movie starring a terrorist is not exactly everyday food, but the slogan of the movie is still "remember, remember, the 5th of November"

Both Fawkes and V had clear political goals with their terrorist acts. 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 official religion in the empire.

"The Gunpowder Plot" has been dubbed the classic example of strategic terrorism by American author and terrorism expert Webster G. Tarpley. He believes Fawkes was manipulated by the circle of King Jacob, who with horror saw how the king sought peace with Spain and advocated increased tolerance for the Catholics of England. By using Fawkes in the unsuccessful attack, the king became convinced that his policies were failing, and the course change led to a century of war with Spain and Portugal and a severe setback for the Catholics. Only 200 years later gained the same rights as the Protestants in England.

Guy Fawkes' Day became National Day; an annual festival focusing on hatred of the pope and Spain. Even today, this day stands as a stake in English consciousness, even though it has its basis in the persecution of religious minorities.


The main character of V for Vendetta will also shake the English government to its foundations. In the series, they lose the Conservative election in 1982, leading Labor to remove all nuclear weapons from English soil. Thus, the country is spared in the devastating nuclear war that wiped out both the European and African continents. In the preface Moore wrote in 1988, after completing the series after a five-year stay, he regrets his naïve belief that a nuclear war was possible. He also regrets that he thought it needed something as melodramatic as a nuclear war to turn his homeland into a fascist state.

"Now it's 1988. Margaret Thatcher is to take up her third term as prime minister (…) 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, ”Moore wrote in 1988.

V for Vendetta is inspired by several dystopian future visions: Authors such as George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Thomas Pynchon and Harlan Ellison, the film Blade Runner, the painting Europe After The Rains by Max Ernst and the cartoon Judge Dredd. Moore created an England where the fascist organization Nordild seized power after the chaos that ensued after World War III, and the new regime interned blacks, Pakistanis, socialists and gays in "relocation camps". The community is managed with a hard hand and constant monitoring.

The two faces of Anarchy

V is a fugitive from one of these concentration camps, and basically it seems that his terrorist acts are just a carefully planned and cunning act of revenge. Eventually it turns out that his one-man war against the English state has far more comprehensive goals. He wants to throw society into chaos. And then 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 opportunity than to break it down. Destroy. Start over. "Anarchy has two faces. It both creates and destroys. Accordingly, 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. Therefore, terror becomes his most important tool.

V for Vendetta was Alan Moore's first attempt at a great comic book novel. The later then celebrated screenwriter behind Watchmen, From Hell, Swamp Thing og The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was still looking for his own voice, and there is little doubt that he sometimes goes too far in his many references and linguistic lapses. For example, Nordild has censored most of art history, while V has acquired a substantial collection of banned art. In doing so, Moore apologizes for frequently quoting the three great Williams: Shakespeare, Yeats and Blake.

Despite their childhood illnesses, V for Vendetta is a remarkable work. Both read in the shadow of 1980 century England, and in the shadow of today's terror terror. The Thatcher government showed Moore that it did not need a nuclear war or revolution for a democratic society to move closer to fascist and totalitarian tendencies. And is there really such a difference between the all-encompassing surveillance that characterizes Vs England and the surveillance cameras and terrorist laws that are now emerging across the West. V for Vendetta depicts a totalitarian nightmarish society bordering on George Orwell's 1984, and as with Orwell it's not hard to recognize himself in the mirror Moore holds up.

Terrorist / superhero

The filming with Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith from The Matrix) starring the US premiere in March 2006. But how on earth is Hollywood going to get such a story on the cinema court? A murderous and bomb-mad terrorist is not exactly the ideal hero in today's United States, but this is a project the brothers Andy and Larry Wachowski have worked with long before they embarked on The Matrixtrilogy. They stand for the script, while James McTeigue, assistant director for the Matrix films, is in charge.

- Med V for Vendetta the Wachowski brothers have created an uncompromising vision of the future with a very original superhero in the lead role, says film producer Joel Silver in a press release.

In Hollywood, the terrorist is transformed into a superhero when appropriate. Or "mysterious revolutionary," as the same press release states. Only this conceptual confusion about the face of terrorism is interesting. The question is, after all, how the film tackles the portrayal of the terrorist V. This is, after all, a hero who blasts government buildings in the air, sabotages the order of power and murders the authorities with cold blood. V is not Batman or Superman, vigilant who, after all, plays on state power.

That brains behind The Matrix standing behind is basically good news, but Alan Moore followers have learned the art of skepticism from bitter experience. From Hell ended up as a pale Jack the Ripper movie miles away from the depths of the cartoon, Constantine was a stupid version of Moore's occult private detective, Swamp Thing was a trifle on low budget and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a disaster. V for Vendetta has great potential to be the best Moore filming, but that is by no means enough.

Moore protests

Fans are already worried, mainly due to script leaks. First, the filmmakers must have taken a grim shortcut in explaining why England has become fascist: It all takes place in an alternate reality, where Germany won the Second World War. If this is true, much of the premise of history falls into gravel. Moore felt it was important to show how close the fascist thinking was to England in 1980 century England, and that German Nazism did not need the help of a fascist government. The script will also simplify the government and its protagonists into ruthless and vicious thugs, instead of the cunning and manipulative leadership styles of the series.

In addition, the Wachowski brothers are said to have drawn Guy Fawkes closer to the story. Where it is only an understood background in the series, Fawkes' story is the common thread in the film. It can be interesting, but can also lead to V ending up as a terrorist who only monkeys after Fawkes, which is at the expense of the series' moral dilemma between anarchy and justice.

Moore has already protested against the film adaptation by demanding that his name not be used in marketing. On the other hand, the well-known cartoonist and TV man J. Michael Straczynski has defended the script from the net, and called it a stroke of genius. Fortunately, we now have the opportunity to read the original work in Norwegian translation. This is where the explosive power lies. The celebration of Guy Fawkes' Day is also discussed further in the book Gunpowder Plots. A Celebration of 400 Years of Bonfire Night, which will be released by Penguin in late October.

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