'V for Vendetta': A perennial symbol of rage against authoritarianism

| Updated: November 08, 2022 19:05:30

'V for Vendetta': A perennial symbol of rage against authoritarianism

"Remember the Fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot."

The quote is taken from a poem which reminds the Gunpowder plot to assassinate Protestant King of England James I. An unnamed man, marked as unwanted by the fascist government, took inspiration from the 1605 incident and named himself V, the impactful figure to make people united against the authoritarian government they fear. 

Released in 2006, V for Vendetta is a poignant movie resembling the fearsome dictatorships in power from past to present and the people's struggle to fight against them. The film reappears in cine lovers' gossip in November every year.

The plot centres on a dystopian world embroiled in wars and pandemics, eerily resembling the present times. Set in 2020, most of the populace worldwide died of a virus called St. Mary’s and the United States no longer exist. 

Britain has isolated itself and elected a fascist government amid fear. The government puts heavy restrictions on people's lives and tortures and executes any dissidents and humans they see as different from their race and beliefs.

V escapes Larkhill Detention Centre, where the fascist Norsefire government inhumanly tests and tortures the subjects. He took Fawkes as his inspiration and put on his mask to form his new identity. He starts a crusade to topple the government, which sees him as just a guinea pig. V has the answer for fascism - anarchy.

People choose to side with the extreme when they are in fear. The Norsefire party takes advantage of it and gains power in the government while the country is embroiled in chaos. The government exploits the fear by spreading disease secretly as an act of bioterrorism and upgrades Adam Sutler as the High Chancellor, giving the government absolute control over people's lives, controlling what people can see, speak, hear and do.

V doesn’t reprimand people for their wrong choice. Instead, he sympathises with them and calls out peace was never an option against the Sutler government. Their only choice is to unite and fight together against this authoritarian leviathan. He wants people to understand that they should not fear the government; rather government should fear them.

V is the most thoughtful character in this film. Portrayed by Hugo Weaving, he is initially shown as the one-man army against the whole regime. But as the film progresses, it is shown that V isn’t destroying the government all by himself; instead, he empowers and rallies the people of Britain against it. 

He believes in the power of people, the power of anarchy, as he says in his final battle against the Norsefire leader, “Beneath this mask, there is more than flesh, beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.”

V for Vendetta is a powerful movie exploring the masses' power. The film takes elements from the real world, which still has authoritarian and repressive dictators in many countries. This movie inspires people to speak for themselves and fight for the freedom and rights they seek; even the ways to achieve them might not be peaceful.

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