V for Vendetta (film)
|V for Vendetta|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James McTeigue|
|Screenplay by||The Wachowski Brothers|
|Based on||V for Vendetta
by David Lloyd
Alan Moore (uncredited)
|Music by||Dario Marianelli|
|Editing by||Martin Walsh|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Running time||132 minutes|
V for Vendetta is a 2005 action thriller film directed by James McTeigue and written by The Wachowski Brothers, based on the 1982 comic book of the same name by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. Set in London in a near-future dystopian society, Hugo Weaving portrays V — a bold, charismatic freedom fighter, attempting to ignite a revolution against the brutal fascist regime led by Adam Sutler (John Hurt) that has subjugated his country. Natalie Portman plays Evey, a working-class girl caught up in V's mission, and Stephen Rea portrays the detective leading a desperate quest to stop V.
The film was originally scheduled for release by Warner Bros. on Friday, 4 November 2005 (a day before the 400th Guy Fawkes Night), but was delayed; it opened on 17 March 2006, to positive reviews. Alan Moore, having already been disappointed with the film adaptations of two of his other graphic novels, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, after reading the script for V for Vendetta refused to view the film and subsequently distanced himself from it.
The film has been seen by many political groups as an allegory of oppression by government; libertarians and anarchists have used it to promote their beliefs. Activists belonging to the group Anonymous use the same Guy Fawkes mask popularized by the film when they appear in public at numerous high-profile events, emulating one of its key scenes. These masks have been seen at Occupy movement events. Lloyd is quoted saying: "The Guy Fawkes mask has now become a common brand and a convenient placard to use in protest against tyranny – and I'm happy with people using it, it seems quite unique, an icon of popular culture being used this way."
In the late 2020s, the world is in turmoil and warfare, while the United Kingdom remains stable under the fascist regime of the Norsefire party. Political prisoners, homosexuals and other undesirables are imprisoned in concentration camps. Evey Hammond, a woman who works at the state-run British Television Network, is rescued from an attempted rape by members of the "Fingermen" secret police by a Guy Fawkes-masked vigilante known as "V". He leads her to a rooftop to watch his destruction of the Old Bailey. Norsefire explains away the incident as an "emergency demolition" of a structurally unsound building, but V takes over the television broadcasts to claim responsibility. He urges the people of Britain to rise up against their government and meet him in one year, on November 5, outside the Houses of Parliament, which he promises to destroy. Evey helps V to escape, but is knocked out in the process.
V brings Evey back to his lair, the Shadow Gallery, where she is told she must stay in hiding until the fifth of November, Guy Fawkes Night, the following year. After learning that V is killing government officials, she escapes to the home of her boss, comedian and talk show host Gordon Deitrich. In return for Evey's trusting him with her safety, Deitrich reveals to her a collection of prohibited materials such as subversive paintings, an antique Quran, and homoerotic photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe. Deitrich explains that he has to conceal his sexuality to retain his television career. After he does an over-the-top satire of the government on his television show, his home is raided, and Evey is captured while trying to escape. She is incarcerated and tortured for days for information about V, with her only solace in the notes written by another prisoner, an actress named Valerie Page, who was arrested for being a lesbian.
Evey is told that she will be executed unless she reveals V's location, but when she says she would rather die she is immediately released, at which point it is revealed that her imprisonment and torture were staged by V as an exercise to free her from her fears. The notes are real, having been passed by Valerie to V years earlier when he was similarly imprisoned. Although Evey initially hates V for what he did to her, she realizes she is a stronger person. She leaves him with a promise to return before November 5.
Inspector Finch, Scotland Yard's chief of police, searches for the true identity of V, eventually tracing him back to a bioweapons program at a detention centre for "social deviants" and political dissidents in Larkhill. Finch eventually realizes that the program, directed by then-under secretary Adam Sutler, resulted in the creation of the "St. Mary's Virus" and its release in a false flag terrorist attack. The deaths of 80,000 people and the resulting fear allowed the Norsefire party to win the next election, thereafter silencing all opposition and turning the United Kingdom into a totalitarian state.
As November 5 nears, V's distribution of thousands of Guy Fawkes masks begins causing chaos in the UK and the population starts questioning Norsefire's rule. On the eve of the 5th, Evey visits V, who shows her an explosive-laden train in the abandoned London Underground set to destroy Parliament. He leaves it up to Evey to decide whether to use it, believing that he is unfit to decide. V leaves to meet secret police chief Creedy, who made a deal with V to hand over Sutler in exchange for V's surrender. When Creedy executes Sutler as V watches, V refuses to surrender and is shot by Creedy's bodyguards. V survives, partially because of his concealed armour, and kills Creedy and his men. Mortally wounded, V returns to Evey to thank her and admits he is in love with her before dying in her arms.
As Evey places V's body aboard the train, she is found by Finch. Having learned much about the corruption of the Norsefire regime, Finch allows Evey to send the train on its way. Thousands of Londoners, all wearing the Guy Fawkes masks and unarmed, march on Parliament to watch the event. Since Sutler and Creedy are dead and no one is left to give the fire order, the military stands down in the face of a civil rebellion. Accompanied by the 1812 Overture, Parliament and Big Ben are destroyed as Evey and Finch look on. Finch asks Evey for the identity of V, to which she replies, "He was all of us."
- A charismatic and skilled freedom fighter who was the unwilling subject of experimentation by Norsefire. James Purefoy was originally cast as V, but left six weeks into filming, citing difficulties wearing the mask for the entire film. He was replaced by Weaving, who had previously worked with Joel Silver and the Wachowski brothers on The Matrix series.
- Director James McTeigue first met Portman on the set of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, where he worked with her as assistant director. In preparing for the role, Portman worked with dialectologist Barbara Berkery in order to perform with an English accent. She also studied films such as The Weather Underground and read the autobiography of Menachem Begin. Portman received top billing for the film. Portman's role in the film has parallels to her role as Mathilda Lando in the film Léon. According to Portman: "the relationship between V and Evey has a complication [like] the relationship in that film." Portman also had her head shaved on screen during a scene where her character is tortured.
- Finch is the lead inspector in the V investigation, who, during his investigation, uncovers an unspeakable government crime. When asked whether the politics attracted him to the film, Rea replied "Well, I don't think it would be very interesting if it was just comic-book stuff. The politics of it are what gives it its dimension and momentum, and of course I was interested in the politics. Why wouldn't I be?"
- A former Conservative Member of Parliament and Under-Secretary for Defence, Chancellor Sutler is the founder of Norsefire and is Britain's de facto dictator. Hurt played a contrary role in another dystopian film: Winston Smith, a victim of the state in the film adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four.
The cast also includes Stephen Fry as Gordon Deitrich, a closeted homosexual and talk show host. When asked in an interview what he liked about the role, Fry replied "Being beaten up! I hadn't been beaten up in a movie before and I was very excited by the idea of being clubbed to death"; Tim Pigott-Smith as Peter Creedy, Norsefire's party leader and the head of Britain's secret police; Rupert Graves as Dominic Stone, Inspector Finch's lieutenant; Roger Allam as Lewis Prothero, a propagandist for Norsefire; John Standing as Anthony James Lilliman, a corrupt bishop at Westminster Abbey; and Sinéad Cusack as Dr. Delia Surridge, the former head physician at the Larkhill detention centre, now a coroner. Natasha Wightman portrays Valerie Page, a lesbian imprisoned for her sexuality. Imogen Poots portrays Valerie as a child.
V for Vendetta sets the Gunpowder Plot as V's historical inspiration, contributing to his choice of timing, language and appearance. For example, the names Rookwood, Percy and Keyes are used in the film, which are also the names of three of the Gunpowder conspirators. The film creates parallels to Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, by drawing direct comparisons between V and Edmond Dantès. (In both stories, the hero escapes an unjust and traumatic imprisonment and spends decades preparing to take vengeance on his oppressors under a new persona.) The film is also explicit in portraying V as the embodiment of an idea rather than an individual through V's dialogue and by depicting him without a past, identity or face. According to the official website, "V's use of the Guy Fawkes mask and persona functions as both practical and symbolic elements of the story. He wears the mask to hide his physical scars, and in obscuring his identity – he becomes the idea itself."
As noted by several critics and commentators, the film's story and style mirrors elements from Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera. V and the Phantom both wear masks to hide their disfigurements, control others through the leverage of their imaginations, have tragic pasts, and are motivated by revenge. V and Evey's relationship also parallels many of the romantic elements of The Phantom of the Opera, where the masked Phantom takes Christine Daaé to his subterranean lair to re-educate her.
As a film about the struggle between freedom and the state, V for Vendetta takes imagery from many classic totalitarian icons both real and fictional, including the Third Reich and George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. For example, Adam Sutler primarily appears on large video screens and on portraits in people's homes, reminiscent of Big Brother. In another reference to Orwell's novel, the slogan "Strength through Unity. Unity through Faith" is displayed prominently across London, similar in cadence to "War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength" in Orwell's book. This connection between the two can also be seen when Evey is being tortured and finds the rat in her room, akin to that being the protagonist's worst fear in Nineteen Eighty-Four. There is also the state's use of mass surveillance, such as closed-circuit television, on its citizens. Valerie was sent to a detention facility for being a lesbian and then had medical experiments performed on her, reminiscent of persecution of gays and Jews in Nazi Germany (see Persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust). The name of Adam Sutler is inspired by the name of Adolf Hitler. Sutler's hysterical speech is also inspired from Hitler's style of speech although his targets for persecution now include Muslims rather than Jews. Indeed, Deitrich is executed once it is found he had possession of a Quran. Norsefire has replaced St George's Cross with a national symbol similar to the modern Cross of Lorraine (both crossbars near the top). This was a symbol used by Free French Forces during World War II, as it was a traditional symbol of French patriotism that could be used as an answer to the Nazis' Swastika.
The letter V and the number 5 
||This section may contain original research. (April 2013)|
Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate. This visage – no mere veneer of vanity – is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition! The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one-day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it's my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.
— V's introductory monologue upon meeting Evey
Similarly to the graphic novel, there is repeated reference to the letter "V" and the number five throughout the film (note "V" is the Roman numeral five). For example, V's introduction to Evey is a monologue containing 48 words beginning with the letter "V", and containing a total of 52 letter "V"s. When Evey tells V her name he repeats it slowly as "E... V". In Evey's name, the letter "E" is the fifth letter of the alphabet, "V" is the fifth letter from the end of the alphabet and is the roman numeral for five, and the letter Y is the 25th letter of the alphabet; 25 being 5 squared. In Latin, Evey's phonetic name means "exit V"; the character V acknowledges this, knowing that this event has begun the chain-reaction of events which will end in his demise. During his imprisonment at Larkhill, V was held in cell "V", as is Evey during her fake imprisonment. V's Zorro-like signature is also the letter "V". In the explosion involving the Old Bailey, the fireworks form a red V configuration, completed by a circular firework, thus resembling not only V but the V for Vendetta logo. It is revealed that V's favorite phrase is "By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe", which according to the film translates into the 5 "V"ed Latin phrase: "Vi Veri Vniversum Vivus Vici". ("Vniversum" is actually written with a U, but in old Latin, the letter "U" was written as a "V.") In a dance with Evey, the song V chooses is number five on his jukebox. In fact, all the songs are song number five. When V confronts Creedy in his greenhouse, he plays Beethoven's "Fifth" Symphony, whose opening notes have a rhythmic pattern that resembles the letter "V" in Morse code (•••–). The film's title itself is a reference to "V for Victory". As V waits for night to fall, he arranges a complex domino pattern in black and red which forms the V logo. In the short sequence overlooking the traincars, the railroad tracks form the letter V. In a flyover shot of London towards the end of the film, Big Ben is shown, with its hour hand pointing at 11 and the minute hand at 1, forming a V shape. When the time is read, it shows 11:05, another reference 11–5, or November 5. In the battle with Creedy and his men at Victoria station, he uses five of his six daggers and forms a "V" with his daggers just before he throws them. As V throws two of his daggers at the men on either side of Creedy, the daggers form a "V" shape five times while spinning through the air. After V kills Creedy's men, Creedy fires five shots at V. After the battle, when V is mortally wounded, he leaves a "V" signature in his own blood. The destruction of Parliament results in a display of fireworks which form the letter "V", which is also an inverted Circle-A, a symbol commonly used by anarchists.
Modern fears of totalitarianism 
With the intention of modernizing the film, the filmmakers added topical references relevant to a modern 2006 audience. According to the Los Angeles Times, "With a wealth of new, real-life parallels to draw from in the areas of government surveillance, torture, fear mongering and media manipulation, not to mention corporate corruption and religious hypocrisy, you can't really blame the filmmakers for having a field day referencing current events." There are also references to an avian flu pandemic, as well as pervasive use of biometric identification and signal-intelligence gathering and analysis by the regime.
Many film critics, political commentators and other members of the media have also noted the film's numerous references to events surrounding the then-current George W. Bush administration in the United States. These include the "black bags" worn by the prisoners in Larkhill that have been seen as a reference to the black bags worn by prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and in U.S.-administered Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, though the pre-The Matrix draft of the screenplay also contains this reference to black bags. Also London is under a yellow-coded curfew alert, similar to the U.S. government's color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System. One of the forbidden items in Gordon's secret basement is a protest poster with a mixed U.S.–U.K. flag with a swastika and the title "Coalition of the Willing, To Power" which combines the "Coalition of the Willing" with Friedrich Nietzsche's concept of Will to Power. As well, there is use of the term "rendition" in the film, in reference to the way the regime removes undesirables from society. There is even a brief scene (during the Valerie flashback) that contains real-life footage of an anti-Iraq War demonstration, with mention of U.S. President George W. Bush. Finally, the film contains references to "America's war" and "the war America started" as well as real footage from the Iraq War. The film also makes a brief reference to wars in Kurdistan, Syria, and Sudan.
Despite the America-specific references, the filmmakers have always referred to the film as adding dialogue to a set of issues much broader than the U.S. administration. When James McTeigue was asked whether or not BTN was based on Fox News Channel, McTeigue replied, "Yes. But not just Fox. Everyone is complicit in this kind of stuff. It could just as well been the Britain's Sky News Channel, also a part of News Corp."
Production and release 
The film was made by many of the same filmmakers involved in The Matrix series. In 1988, producer Joel Silver acquired the rights to two of Alan Moore's works: V for Vendetta and Watchmen. After the release and relative success of Road House, writer Hilary Henkin was brought on to flesh out the project with an initial draft – one that bears little, if any, relation to the finished product, with the inclusion of overtly satirical and surrealistic elements not present in the graphic novel, as well as the removal of much of the novel's ambiguity, especially in regard to V's identity. The Wachowskis were fans of V for Vendetta and in the mid-1990s, before working on The Matrix, wrote a draft screenplay that closely followed the graphic novel. During the post-production of the second and third The Matrix films, they revisited the screenplay and offered the director's role to James McTeigue. All three were intrigued by the original story's themes and found them to be relevant to the current political landscape. Upon revisiting the screenplay, the Wachowskis set about making revisions to condense and modernize the story, while at the same time attempting to preserve its integrity and themes. James McTeigue cites the film The Battle of Algiers as his principal influence in preparing to film V for Vendetta.
Moore explicitly disassociated himself from the film due to his lack of involvement in its writing or directing, as well as due to a continuing series of disputes over film adaptations of his work. He ended cooperation with his publisher, DC Comics, after its corporate parent, Warner Bros., failed to retract statements about Moore's supposed endorsement of the film. Moore said that the script contained plot holes and that it ran contrary to the theme of his original work, which was to place two political extremes (fascism and anarchism) against one another. He argues his work had been recast as a story about "current American neo-conservatism vs. current American liberalism". Per his wishes, Moore's name does not appear in the film's closing credits. Co-creator and illustrator David Lloyd supports the film adaptation, commenting that the script is very good but that Moore would only ever be truly happy with a complete book-to-screen adaptation.
V for Vendetta was filmed in London, United Kingdom, and in Potsdam, Germany, at Babelsberg Studios. Much of the film was shot on sound stages and indoor sets, with location work done in Berlin for three scenes: the Norsefire rally flashback, Larkhill, and Bishop Lilliman's bedroom. The scenes that took place in the abandoned London Underground were filmed at the disused Aldwych tube station. Filming began in early March 2005 and principal photography officially wrapped in early June 2005. V for Vendetta is the final film shot by cinematographer Adrian Biddle, who died of a heart attack on 7 December 2005.
To film the final scene at Westminster, the area from Trafalgar Square and Whitehall up to Parliament and Big Ben had to be closed for three nights from midnight until 5 am This was the first time the security-sensitive area (home to 10 Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence) had ever been closed to accommodate filming. Prime Minister (at the time of filming) Tony Blair's son, Euan, worked on the film's production and is said (according to an interview with Stephen Fry) to have helped the filmmakers obtain the unparalleled filming access. This drew criticism of Blair from MP David Davis due to the film's content. However, the filmmakers denied Euan Blair's involvement in the deal, stating that access was acquired through nine months of negotiations with fourteen different government departments and agencies.
The film was designed to have a future-retro look, with heavy use of grey tones to give a dreary, stagnant feel to totalitarian London. The largest set created for the film was the Shadow Gallery, which was made to feel like a cross between a crypt and an undercroft. The Gallery is V's home as well as the place where he stores various artefacts forbidden by the government. Some of the works of art displayed in the gallery include The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck, Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian, a Mildred Pierce poster, St. Sebastian by Andrea Mantegna, The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse and statues by Giacometti. One of the major challenges in the film was how to bring V to life from under an expressionless mask. Thus, considerable effort was made to bring together lighting, acting, and Weaving's voice to create the proper mood for the situation. In order to prevent the mask from muffling Weaving's voice, a microphone was placed in his hairline to aid post-production, when his entire dialogue was re-recorded.
The cast and filmmakers attended several press conferences that allowed them to address issues surrounding the film, including its authenticity, Alan Moore's reaction to it and its intended political message. The film was intended to be a departure from some of Moore's original themes. In the words of Hugo Weaving: "Alan Moore was writing about something which happened some time ago. It was a response to living in Thatcherite England... This is a response to the world in which we live today. So I think that the film and the graphic novel are two separate entities." Regarding the film's controversial political content, the filmmakers have said that the film is intended more to raise questions and add to a dialogue already present in society, rather than provide answers or tell viewers what to think.
The film adopts extensive imagery from the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, in which a group of Catholic conspirators plotted to destroy the Houses of Parliament in order to spark a revolution in England. The film was originally scheduled for release on the weekend of 5 November 2005, the Plot's 400th anniversary, with the tag line "Remember, remember the 5th of November", taken from a traditional British rhyme memorialising the event. However, the marketing angle lost much of its value when the release date was pushed back to 17 March 2006. Many have speculated that the delay was caused by the London tube bombing on July 7 and the failed 21 July bombing. The filmmakers have denied this, saying that the delays were due to the need for more time to finish the visual effects production. V for Vendetta had its first major premiere on February 13 at the Berlin Film Festival. It opened for general release on 17 March 2006 in 3,365 cinemas in the United States, the United Kingdom and six other countries.
By December of 2006, V for Vendetta had grossed $132,511,035, of which $70,511,035 was from the United States. The film led the U.S. box office on its opening day, taking in an estimated $8,742,504, and remained the number one film for the remainder of the weekend, taking in an estimated $25,642,340. Its closest rival, Failure to Launch, took in $15,604,892. The film debuted at number one in the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden and Taiwan. V for Vendetta also opened in 56 IMAX cinemas in North America, grossing $1.36 million during the opening three days.
The critical reception of the film was generally positive. Ebert and Roeper gave the film a "two thumbs up" rating. Roger Ebert stated that V for Vendetta "almost always has something going on that is actually interesting, inviting us to decode the character and plot and apply the message where we will". Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton from At the Movies stated that despite the problem of never seeing Weaving's face, there was good acting and an interesting plot, adding that the film is also disturbing, with scenes reminiscent of Nazi Germany. Jonathan Ross from the BBC blasted the film, calling it a "woeful, depressing failure" and stating that the "cast of notable and familiar talents such as John Hurt and Stephen Rea stand little chance amid the wreckage of the Wachowski siblings' dismal script and its particularly poor dialogue." Sean Burns of Philadelphia Weekly gave the film a 'D', criticizing the film's treatment of its political message as being "fairly dim, adolescent stuff," as well as expressing dislike for the "barely decorated sets with television-standard overlit shadow-free cinematography by the late Adrian Biddle. The film is a visual insult." On Alan Moore removing his name from the project, Burns says "it's not hard to see why," as well as criticising Portman's performance: "Portman still seems to believe that standing around with your mouth hanging open constitutes a performance." Harry Guerin from the Irish TV network RTÉ states the film "works as a political thriller, adventure and social commentary and it deserves to be seen by audiences who would otherwise avoid any/all of the three". He added that the film will become "a cult favourite whose reputation will only be enhanced with age." Andy Jacobs for the BBC gave the film two stars out of five, remarking that it is "a bit of a mess... it rarely thrills or engages as a story."
V for Vendetta received few awards, although at the 2007 Saturn Awards Natalie Portman won the Best Actress award. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 73% "Certified Fresh" approval rating. The film was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form in 2007. V was included on Fandomania's list of The 100 Greatest Fictional Characters. Empire magazine named the film the 418th greatest of all time.
V for Vendetta deals with issues of homosexuality, criticism of religion, totalitarianism, Islamophobia and terrorism. Its controversial story line and themes have been the target of both criticism and praise from sociopolitical groups.
On 17 April 2006 the New York Metro Alliance of Anarchists organised a protest against DC Comics and Time Warner, accusing it of watering down the story's original message in favour of violence and special effects. David Graeber, an anarchist scholar and former professor at Yale University, was not upset by the film. "I thought the message of anarchy got out in spite of Hollywood." However, Graeber went on to state: "Anarchy is about creating communities and democratic decision making. That's what is absent from Hollywood's interpretation."
Film critic Richard Roeper dismissed right-wing Christian criticism of the film on the television show Ebert and Roeper, saying that V's terrorist label is applied in the movie "by someone who's essentially Hitler, a dictator."
Meanwhile, LGBT commentators have praised the film for its positive depiction of homosexuals; Michael Jensen called the film "one of the most pro-gay ever". The portrayal of the character Valerie in her symbolic role as a victim of the state was positively received by many LGBT critics. Critic Michael Jensen praised Valerie's scenes "not just because it is beautifully acted and well-written, but because it is so utterly unexpected [in a Hollywood film]."
David Walsh from the World Socialist Web Site criticizes V's actions as "antidemocratic" and cites the film as an example of "the bankruptcy of anarcho-terrorist ideology" stating that because the people have not played any part in the revolution, they will be unable to produce a "new, liberated society."
Clay Duke, the perpetrator of the 2010 Panama City school board shootings, was reportedly obsessed with the film V for Vendetta. Prior to the shootings and his eventual suicide, Duke spray-painted a red V inside a red circle, a supposed allusion to his fascination with the graphic novel.
The film was broadcast on China's national TV station, China Central Television (CCTV) on 16 December 2012, surprising many viewers. While many believed that the government had banned the film, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television stated that it was not aware of a ban; CCTV makes its own decisions on whether to censor foreign films. Liu Shanying, a political scientist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who used to work for CCTV, speculated that the showing indicated that Chinese film censorship might be loosened.
Differences between the film and graphic novel 
The film's story was adapted from the V for Vendetta graphic novel by Alan Moore; this was originally published between 1982 and 1985 in the British comic anthology Warrior, and then reprinted and completed by DC. Moore's comics were later compiled into a graphic novel and published again in the United States under DC's Vertigo imprint and in the United Kingdom under Titan Books.
There are several fundamental differences between the film and the original source material. For example, the comic is set in the 1990s, while the film is set sometime between 2028 and 2038: Alan Moore's original story was created as a response to British Thatcherism in the early '80s and was set as a conflict between a fascist state and anarchism, while the film's story has been changed by the Wachowskis to fit a modern political context. Alan Moore, however, charged that in doing so, the story has turned into an American-centric conflict between liberalism and neo-conservatism, and abandons the original anarchist-fascist themes. Moore states, "There wasn't a mention of anarchy as far as I could see. The fascism had been completely defanged. I mean, I think that any references to racial purity had been excised, whereas actually, fascists are quite big on racial purity." Furthermore, in the original story, Moore attempted to maintain moral ambiguity, and not to portray the fascists as caricatures, but as realistic, rounded characters. The time limitations of a film meant that the story had to omit or streamline some of the characters, details, and plotlines from the original story. Chiefly, the original graphic novel has the fascists elected legally and kept in power through the general apathy of the public whereas the film introduces the "St. Mary's virus," a biological weapon engineered and released by the Norsefire party as a means of clandestinely gaining control over their own country.
Many of the characters from the graphic novel underwent significant changes for the film. V is characterized in the film as a romantic freedom fighter who shows concern over the loss of innocent life. However, in the graphic novel, he is portrayed as ruthless, willing to kill anyone who gets in his way. Evey Hammond's transformation as V's protégée is also much more drastic in the novel than in the film. At the beginning of the film, she is already a confident woman with a hint of rebellion in her; in the graphic novel she starts off as an insecure, desperate young woman forced into prostitution. V and Evey's relationship, though not as obvious in the book, ends in the film with pledges of love. In the graphic novel's finale, she not only carries out V's plans as she does in the film, but also clearly takes on V's identity. In the film, Inspector Finch sympathizes with V but in the graphic novel, he is determined to stop V and goes as far as taking LSD in order to enter into a criminal's state of mind. Gordon, a very minor character in both adaptations, is also drastically changed. In the novel, Gordon is a small-time criminal who takes Evey into his home after V abandons her on the street. The two share a brief romance before Gordon is killed by a Scottish gang. In the movie, however, Gordon is a well-mannered co-worker of Evey's, and is later revealed to be gay. He is killed by fingermen after turning his TV program into a tool for political parody, but publicly charged with keeping a Koran in his home.
Home media 
V for Vendetta was released on DVD in the US on 1 August 2006 in three formats: a single-disc wide-screen version, a single-disc full-screen version, and a two-disc wide-screen special edition. DVD sales were successful, selling 1,412,865 DVD units in the first week of release which translated to $27,683,818 in revenue. By the end of 2006, 3,086,073 DVD units had been sold, bringing in slightly more than its production cost of $58,342,597. The single disc versions contain a short (15:56) behind-the-scenes featurette titled "Freedom! Forever! Making V for Vendetta" and the film's theatrical trailer, whereas the two-disc special edition contains three additional documentaries, and several extra features for collectors. On the second disc of the special edition, a short Easter egg clip of Natalie Portman on Saturday Night Live can be viewed by selecting the picture of wings on the second page of the menu. The film has also been released on the HD DVD high definition format, which features a unique 'in-movie experience' created exclusively for the disc. Warner Bros. later released the video on Blu-Ray, on 20 May 2008. The movie also saw release on Sony's PSP UMD format.
The V for Vendetta soundtrack was released by Astralwerks Records on 21 March 2006. The original scores from the film's composer, Dario Marianelli, make up most of the tracks on the album. The soundtrack also features three vocals played during the film: "Cry Me a River" by Julie London, a cover of The Velvet Underground song, "I Found a Reason" by Cat Power and "Bird Girl" by Antony and the Johnsons. As mentioned in the film, these songs are samples of the 872 blacklisted tracks on V's Wurlitzer jukebox that V "reclaimed" from the Ministry of Objectionable Materials. The climax of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture appears at the end of the track "Knives and Bullets (and Cannons too)". The Overture's finale is played at key parts at the beginning and end of the film.
Three songs were played during the ending credits which were not included on the V for Vendetta soundtrack. The first was "Street Fighting Man" by The Rolling Stones. The second was a special version of Ethan Stoller's "BKAB". In keeping with revolutionary tone of the film, excerpts from "On Black Power" (also in "A Declaration of Independence") by black nationalist leader Malcolm X, and from "Address to the Women of America" by feminist writer Gloria Steinem were added to the song. Gloria Steinem can be heard saying: "This is no simple reform... It really is a revolution. Sex and race, because they are easy and visible differences, have been the primary ways of organizing human beings into superior and inferior groups and into the cheap labour on which this system still depends." The final song was "Out of Sight" by Spiritualized.
Also in the film were segments from two of Antonio Carlos Jobim's classic bossa nova songs, "The Girl From Ipanema" and "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars". These songs were played during the "breakfast scenes" with V and Deitrich and were one of the ways used to tie the two characters together. Beethoven's Symphony No.5 also plays an important role in the film, with the first four notes of the first movement signifying the letter "V" in Morse code. Gordon Deitrich's Benny Hill-styled comedy sketch of Chancellor Sutler includes the "Yakety Sax" theme. Inspector Finch's alarm clock begins the morning of November 4 with the song "Long Black Train" by Richard Hawley, which contains the foreshadowing lyrics "Ride the long black train... take me home black train."
The original graphic novel by Moore and Lloyd was re-released as a hardback collection in October 2005 to tie into the film's original release date of 5 November 2005. The film renewed interest in Alan Moore's original story, and sales of the original graphic novel rose dramatically in the United States.
A novelisation of the film, written by Steve Moore and based on the Wachowski brothers' script, was published by Pocket Star on 31 January 2006. Spencer Lamm, who has worked with the Wachowski brothers, created a "behind-the-scenes" book. Titled V for Vendetta: From Script to Film, it was published by Universe on 22 August 2006.
As well as promotional items created to publicise the film (which included a shoulder bag and bust of "V"'s Guy Fawkes mask), replicas of the mask and action figures were released. Figures released by NECA include a 12-inch (30 cm) action figure which speaks phrases from the film, a 12-inch resin statue and a seven-inch (17 cm) figure.
Semi-official V costumes have been created for Halloween. These range from the full costume of cape, hat, mask and dagger-belt, to various individual aspects — gloves, hat, mask, hair, and daggers. All are available separately or in combinations.
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- ASIN B000FS9FCG, V for Vendetta (Widescreen Edition) (2006)
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- ASIN B000UVGLHU, V for Vendetta Mask
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Further reading 
- Kowalski, Dean A. (2008). "R for Revolution: Hobbes and Locke on Social Contracts and Scarlet Carsons". In Foy, Joseph (ed.). Homer Simpson Goes to Washington: American Politics through Popular Culture. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0-8131-2512-1.
- Lamm, Spencer (22 August 2006). V for Vendetta: from Script to Film. Universe Publishing. ISBN 0-7893-1503-3.
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- V for Vendetta – Official website at Warner Brothers
- V for Vendetta at the Open Directory Project
- V for Vendetta at the Internet Movie Database
- V for Vendetta at AllRovi
- V for Vendetta at Rotten Tomatoes
- V for Vendetta at Metacritic
- V for Vendetta script at the Internet Movie Script Database