V for Vendetta
|V for Vendetta|
V for Vendetta collected edition cover, art by David Lloyd
Vertigo (DC Comics)
|Date(s) of publication||March 1982 – May 1989|
V for Vendetta is a graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated mostly by David Lloyd, set in a dystopian future United Kingdom imagined from the 1980s to about the 1990s. A mysterious masked revolutionary who calls himself "V" works to destroy the totalitarian government, profoundly affecting the people he encounters. Warner Bros. released a film adaptation of V for Vendetta in 2005.
The story depicts a near-future U.K. after a nuclear war, which has left much of the world destroyed, though most of the damage to the country is indirect, via floods and crop failures. In this future, a fascist party called Norsefire has exterminated its opponents in concentration camps and now rules the country as a police state. V, an anarchist revolutionary dressed in a Guy Fawkes mask, begins an elaborate, violent, and intentionally theatrical campaign to murder his former captors, bring down the government, and convince the people to rule themselves.
The first episodes of V for Vendetta originally appeared in black-and-white between 1982 and 1985, in Warrior, a British anthology comic published by Quality Comics. The strip became one of the most popular in that title; during the 26 issues of Warrior several covers featured V for Vendetta.
When the publishers cancelled Warrior in 1985 (with two completed issues unpublished due to the cancellation), several companies attempted to convince Moore and Lloyd to let them publish and complete the story. In 1988 DC Comics published a ten-issue series that reprinted the Warrior stories in colour, then continued the series to completion. The first new material appeared in issue #7, which included the unpublished episodes that would have appeared in Warrior #27 and #28. Tony Weare drew one chapter ("Vincent") and contributed additional art to two others ("Valerie" and "The Vacation"); Steve Whitaker and Siobhan Dodds worked as colourists on the entire series.
The series, including Moore's "Behind the Painted Smile" essay and two "interludes" outside the central continuity, then appeared in collected form as a trade paperback, published in the US by DC's Vertigo imprint (ISBN 0-930289-52-8) and in the UK by Titan Books (ISBN 1-85286-291-2).
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David Lloyd's paintings for V for Vendetta in Warrior originally appeared in black-and-white. The DC Comics version published the artwork "colourised" in pastels. Lloyd has stated that he had always intended the artwork to appear in colour, and that the initial publication in black and white occurred for financial reasons because colour would have cost too much (although Warrior publisher Dez Skinn expressed surprise at this information, as he had commissioned the strip in black and white and never intended Warrior to feature any interior colour, irrespective of expense).
In writing V for Vendetta, Moore drew upon an idea for a strip titled The Doll, which he had submitted in 1975 at the age of 22 to DC Thomson. In "Behind the Painted Smile", Moore revealed that the idea was rejected as DC Thomson balked at the idea of a "transsexual terrorist". Years later, Warrior editor Dez Skinn allegedly invited Moore to create a dark mystery strip with artist David Lloyd. He actually asked David Lloyd to recreate something similar to their popular Marvel UK Night Raven strip, a story with an enigmatic masked vigilante set in the United States in the 1930s. Lloyd asked for writer Alan Moore to join him, and the setting developed through their discussions, moving from the 1930s United States to a near-future Britain. As the setting progressed, so did the character's development; once conceived as a "realistic" gangster-age version of Night-Raven, he became, first, a policeman rebelling against the totalitarian state he served, then a heroic anarchist.
Moore and Lloyd conceived the series as a dark adventure-strip influenced by British comic characters of the 1960s, as well as by Night Raven, which Lloyd had previously worked on with writer Steve Parkhouse. Editor Dez Skinn came up with the name "Vendetta" over lunch with his work colleague Graham Marsh — but quickly rejected it as sounding too Italian (in fact the word vendetta means revenge in Italian). Then V for Vendetta emerged, putting the emphasis on "V" rather than "Vendetta". David Lloyd developed the idea of dressing V as Guy Fawkes after previous designs followed the conventional superhero look.
During the preparation of the story Moore made a list of what he wanted to bring into the plot, which he reproduced in "Behind the Painted Smile":
Orwell. Huxley. Thomas Disch. Judge Dredd. Harlan Ellison's "Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman, Catman and The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World by the same author. Vincent Price's Dr. Phibes and Theatre of Blood. David Bowie. The Shadow. Night Raven. Batman. Fahrenheit 451. The writings of the New Worlds school of science fiction. Max Ernst's painting "Europe After the Rain". Thomas Pynchon. The atmosphere of British Second World War films. The Prisoner. Robin Hood. Dick Turpin...
The political climate of Britain in the early 1980s also influenced the work, with Moore positing that Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government would "obviously lose the 1983 elections", and that an incoming Michael Foot-led Labour government, committed to complete nuclear disarmament, would allow the United Kingdom to escape relatively unscathed after a limited nuclear war. However, Moore felt that fascists would quickly subvert a post-holocaust Britain. Moore's scenario remains untested. Addressing historical developments when DC reissued the work, he noted:
Naïveté can also be detected in my supposition that it would take something as melodramatic as a near-miss nuclear conflict to nudge Britain towards fascism... The simple fact that much of the historical background of the story proceeds from a predicted Conservative defeat in the 1983 General Election should tell you how reliable we were in our roles as Cassandras.
The February 1999 issue of The Comics Journal ran a poll on "The Top 100 (English-Language) Comics of the Century": V for Vendetta reached 83rd place.
Book 1: Europe After the Reign
On 5 November 1997 in London (in a post-apocalyptic future history), Evey Hammond, is wrongfully detained by a group of men who reveal themselves to be secret police. The officers, called Fingermen, prepare to rape and murder Evey, when suddenly a mysterious cloaked figure wearing a Guy Fawkes mask rescues her and dispatches the Fingermen. The masked man, introducing himself as "V", heads to a rooftop with Evey and remotely detonates a bomb and fireworks at the Houses of Parliament; together, V and Evey watch the explosions. V then takes Evey to his secret underground lair, called "The Shadow Gallery", which is filled with cultural items banned by England's new government, ranging from books to music to film posters. Evey tells V her life story, which provides some background information regarding the current state of England, preceded by a global nuclear war in the late 1980s that triggered widespread socio-economic catastrophe. This led to a fascist coup d'état in England, whose white supremacist government, Norsefire, has been controlling the country ever since. These fascists scapegoated various "undesirable" groups—homosexuals, foreign immigrants, non-white people, and left-wing advocates—ultimately exterminating them in so-called "resettlement camps". Evey's own father was arrested because he once belonged to a socialist student group, and she never saw him again (while her mother had died some time earlier of some widespread disease).
Eric Finch, an experienced detective and head of "the Nose"—the government's regular police force—is put in charge of investigating V's terrorist activities. Finch reports to "the Head" or executive branch of the Norsefire government, embodied by a single man named Adam Susan: a recluse whom others call "the Leader"; who oversees the government's computer system, Fate; and who essentially serves as dictator. Finch also frequently communicates with: "the Finger"—the secret police force, led by Derek Almond; "the Eye"—the visual surveillance branch, led by Conrad Heyer; "the Mouth"—the branch in charge of broadcasting propaganda, led by Roger Dascombe; and "the Ear"—the audio surveillance branch, led by Brian Etheridge. Finch's case thickens when V next confronts three government-connected figures to punish them for past atrocities: Lewis Prothero, the propaganda broadcaster who serves as the "Voice of Fate"; Bishop Anthony Lilliman, a paedophile priest who represents the government in the clergy; and Dr. Delia Surridge, an apolitical doctor who once had a romantic relationship with Finch. V drives Prothero insane, forces Lilliman's suicide, and lastly prepares to murder Dr. Surridge. As V is killing Surridge, Finch suddenly discovers that all three of V's recent victims worked at a resettlement camp near Larkhill. Finch suspects that V is waging a vendetta against people associated with this particular camp, and so he alerts Derek Almond to V's probable motives, guessing correctly (but too late) that Surridge is V's next victim. Almond surprises V at Surridge's home; however, Almond—who that same night, in a drunken rage, was abusively playing gun-related tricks on his wife, Rosemary—has forgotten to reload his gun, so V kills him and escapes.
Finch begins to read Dr. Surridge's diary, discovered later at her home that night, which reveals the victims' histories with V at the Larkhill camp: V was an inmate and involuntary victim of a medical experiment run by Surridge. Eventually, V began tending a garden under camp commander Prothero's approval, using chemicals related to Surridge's experiments in order to design homemade mustard gas and napalm, which he later used to destroy and escape the camp. V has since been eliminating the camp's former officers to prevent the government from discovering his true identity. Finch tells Susan, the Leader, that while V made sure Surridge's diary was easy to find, V also ripped out some pages and may have even fabricated the diary as a red herring. Susan suspects that this "vendetta" is actually just a cover for V, who, he worries, may be plotting an even bigger terrorist attack.
Book 2: This Vicious Cabaret
Four months later, V breaks into Jordan Tower, the home of the Mouth, to broadcast a speech that calls on the people to resist the government. He escapes by forcing the Mouth's Roger Dascombe into one of his own Fawkes costumes; the police then gun Dascombe down, thinking he is V. Investigating, Finch is introduced to Peter Creedy, a petty crook who has replaced Almond as head of the Finger. Creedy makes a crude remark about Finch's past relations with Surridge, provoking Finch to strike him and consequently get sent on a forced vacation. Creedy next begins organising a secret militia, which even comprises street criminals, in order to eventually overthrow Susan and replace him as the Leader.
Meanwhile, Evey, who was developing a strong attachment to V, though challenging his violent methods, has since been abandoned by V on a street, without V's providing her any information for finding him again. She has now been taken in by an older man named Gordon, a lesser criminal with whom she becomes romantically involved, and they cross paths unknowingly with Rosemary "Rose" Almond, the widow of the recently killed Derek. Although the Almonds' marriage was in shambles anyway, Rose is now financially devastated and, after she reluctantly began a relationship with Dascombe who is also now dead, she is finally forced to work as a burlesque dancer, increasingly beginning to hate the government, which has failed to support her as the spouse of a top government officer.
When a Scottish gangster, Alistair "Ally" Harper, murders Gordon, Evey attempts to retaliate during a meeting between Ally and Creedy, the latter of whom is buying the support of Ally's thugs. Evey is arrested before she can shoot Ally, but is mistakenly accused of trying to murder Creedy. In her cell, between multiple bouts of interrogation and torture, Evey finds an old letter from an inmate named Valerie, a film actress who was imprisoned and executed for being a lesbian. Evey's interrogator finally gives her a choice of collaboration or death; inspired by Valerie's courage and quiet defiance, Evey refuses to give in, and, expecting to be executed, is instead told that she is free. Amazed, Evey learns that her supposed imprisonment is in fact a hoax constructed by V so that she could experience an ordeal similar to the one that shaped him. He reveals that Valerie was another Larkhill prisoner, who died in the cell next to his and that the letter is not a fake. Evey forgives V, who, in the meantime, has started playing emotional mind games on Susan, having hacked into the government's Fate computer system. Consequently, Susan, whose only sexual feelings lie with the computer, is beginning to descend into madness.
Book 3: The Land of Do-As-You-Please
The following 5 November (1998), V blows up the Post Office Tower and Jordan Tower, effectively shutting down the Eye, the Ear and the Mouth. The subsequent lack of government surveillance causes a wave of looting and revolutionary fervor from the public, which is violently suppressed by Creedy's men and Ally's associated street gangs. V notes to Evey that he has not yet achieved what he calls the "Land of Do-as-You-Please", meaning a functional anarchistic society, and considers the current situation an interim period of mere chaos in the "Land of Take-What-You-Want".
Finch has mysteriously disappeared and his youthful assistant, Dominic, keeps his work in order at the Nose. One day, Dominic realises that V has been manipulating the Fate computer all along, which would explain V's foresight; this news continues, and pushes Susan even further toward insanity. All the while, Finch has been travelling to the abandoned site of Larkhill, where he takes LSD, using the psychedelic experience to conjure up his own memories—that of his former black lover and their son, who were both sent to death camps—and to put his mind in the role of a prisoner of Larkhill who is soon freed, like V, helping to give him an intuitive understanding of V's experiences. Returning to London, Finch suddenly deduces that V's lair is inside the abandoned Victoria Station. Finch enters the station tunnel and is confronted by V, who lets Finch shoot him repeatedly, triumphantly mocking Finch by claiming that he cannot be killed since he is only an idea, and that "ideas are bulletproof". Regardless, V is indeed mortally wounded and he returns to the Shadow Gallery within, dying in Evey's arms. Evey considers unmasking V, but decides not to and ultimately comprehends the message of V's nebulous last words: she assumes his identity, donning one of his spare Fawkes costumes.
Meanwhile, Creedy pressures Susan to appear in public, in an attempt to leave him exposed, with Creedy hoping to accelerate his plans for a takeover. Sure enough, as Susan stops to shake hands with Rose Almond during a parade, she draws a gun and shoots him in the head. Creedy quickly names himself the new Leader, but Ally, bribed by Helen, the manipulative wife of Conrad Heyer (head of the Eye), murders Creedy before he can fully take command. V then sends an incriminating surveillance tape of Helen and Ally having sex to Conrad Heyer, who responds by killing Ally but receiving in turn a fatal wound of his own. Helen discovers her dying husband but refuses to seek medical help, callously leaving him to witness his own bleeding out on a closed-circuit television. Finch is the only survivor left now among the key officials of the government, but he freely abandons his post, due to his own change of outlook, influenced greatly by his LSD experience.
Evey appears to a crowd, dressed as V, announcing the destruction of 10 Downing Street the following day and telling the crowd they must "...choose what comes next. Lives of your own, or a return to chains", whereupon a general insurrection begins. Dominic, struck on the head by a stone, loses consciousness as he runs for safety, seeing Evey disguised as V before he passes out. Evey destroys 10 Downing Street by giving V a Viking funeral with an explosive-laden Underground train containing his body, sent to detonate beneath the desired location. Dominic awakens in the Shadow Gallery, as Evey, who is dressed in her mentor's Guy Fawkes costume, introduces herself as V, apparently to train Dominic as her successor. As night falls, Finch observes the chaos raging in the city and encounters Helen Heyer, who has become homeless. When they recognise each other, Helen embraces Finch, saying they could raise a small army and restore order. Finch silently pushes Helen away and climbs onto an abandoned motorway, which he walks down alone, all the streetlamps dark in front of him.
V is a masked anarchist who seeks to systematically kill the leaders of Norsefire, a fascist dictatorship ruling a dystopian United Kingdom. He is well-versed in the arts of explosives, subterfuge, and computer hacking, and has a vast literary, cultural and philosophical intellect. V is the only survivor of an experiment in which four dozen prisoners were given injections of a compound called Batch 5. The compound caused vast cellular anomalies that eventually killed all of the subjects except V, who developed advanced strength, reflexes, endurance and pain tolerance. Throughout the novel, V almost always wears his trademark Guy Fawkes mask, a shoulder-length wig of straight dark-brown hair and an outfit consisting of black gloves, tunic, trousers and boots. When not wearing the mask, his face is not shown. When outside the Shadow Gallery, he completes this ensemble with a circa-17th century conical hat and floor-length cloak. His weapons of choice include daggers, explosives and tear gas.
The book suggests that V took his name from the Roman numeral "V", the number of the room he was held in during the experiment.
Evey "Eve" Hammond is a sixteen-year-old (seventeen-year-old as of Book 2) who V saves from the Fingermen. The novel details her life's story: how she lost every person she ever loved due to the Norsefire party and its criminal connections, how she met V and grew to understand him and, finally, how she became his successor.
Adam Susan, also known as the "Leader", is the dictator of the Norsefire Party and its functions, although some of his power is ceremonial. Susan is in love with Fate (a computer system) and prefers its cold, mathematical companionship to that of his fellow human beings. Susan also expresses a solipsist belief that he and God (referring to the Fate computer) are the only truly "real" beings in existence, though he also believes that he must devote his life to leading his people. He is an adherent of fascism and racist notions of "purity", and genuinely believes that civil liberties are dangerous and unnecessary. He appears to truly care for his people, however, and it is implied that his embrace of fascism was a response to his own loneliness. Before the War, he was a Chief Constable. He is assassinated by Rose Almond, the widow of one of his former lieutenants.
Eric Finch is the chief of New Scotland Yard and Minister of Investigations, which has become known as the Nose. Finch is a pragmatist who sides with the government because he would rather serve in a world of order than one of chaos. He is nevertheless honorable and decent, and trusted by the Leader because he is reliable and without ambition. He eventually achieves his own anagnorisis and self-knowledge, expressing sorrow over his complicity with Norsefire's atrocities.
- Rosemary "Rose" Almond: The abused wife of Derek Almond. When her husband is murdered, Rose becomes depressed and must turn to Roger Dascombe (whom she strongly dislikes) for company and support. After Dascombe is also killed (also at the hands of V), she is forced to become a showgirl as a means of supporting herself. After V shuts down the surveillance systems, she uses the opportunity to buy a gun and assassinate Adam Susan. She is last shown in an interrogation conducted by the Finger and her fate is unknown. She is the only supporting character who at one point in the story drives the narrative through an inner monologue, which besides her is only done by V, Evey, Adam Susan and Finch.
- Dominic Stone: Inspector Finch's partner and protegé. Dominic is the one who figures out the connection between V and the former Larkhill camp staff and V's hacking into the Fate computer system. Very much like Finch, he only works as an officer in the Nose due to a sense of dedication to his country and not due to any political affiliation to the Norsefire Party. At the end, Evey rescues Dominic from a mob and takes him to the Shadow Gallery where it is implied she will train him as her successor after she has taken the persona of V.
- Gordon: A petty criminal specializing in bootlegging. After V abandons Evey during Book 2, Gordon takes her in as an act of kindness after he catches her stealing from his home and the two eventually become lovers. He is murdered by Alistair Harper, a ruthless gangster who is trying to expand Scotland's organized crime syndicate into London.
- Peter Creedy: A coarse, petty man who replaces Derek Almond as the security minister of the Finger after the latter's death. He aims to replace the weakening Susan as Leader, but as part of Mrs. Heyer's plot, Alistair Harper's thugs kill him (Creedy had hired the thugs to bolster the weakening Finger, but Helen Heyer offered them more).
- Helen Heyer: The ruthless, scheming wife of Conrad Heyer. She uses sex and her superior intellect to keep her husband (for whom she feels nothing but contempt) in line, and to further her own goal of controlling the country after he becomes Leader. At the same time, she sleeps with Harper and turns him against Creedy. Her master plan collapses and she is last seen offering her body in exchange for protection and food to a semi-drunken gang after being rejected by Finch (who she hoped would join her in taking over what was left of the Party after her husband, Peter Creedy and Alistair Harper are all killed) and after anarchy has spilled into London.
- Conrad Heyer: In charge of "The Eye" — the agency that controls the country's CCTV system. His wife Helen dominates him, and she intends for him to become leader, leaving her as the power behind the throne. V sends Conrad a videotape of Helen being unfaithful and he snaps, killing her lover Alistair Harper but sustaining a fatal wound from Harper's straight-edge razor in the process. When Helen learns what he has done, she is enraged at the destruction of her plans and leaves him to bleed to death, setting up a video camera connected to their TV so that he can watch himself die.
- Lewis Prothero: The former Commander of Larkhill, the concentration camp that once held V. He later becomes The Voice of Fate, the government radio broadcaster who daily transmits "information" to the public. V stops a train carrying Prothero and kidnaps him. He is driven insane by a combination of an overdose of Batch 5 drugs and the shock of seeing his prized doll collection burned in a mock recreation of Camp Larkhill in V's headquarters. He remains incapacitated for the rest of the story.
- Bishop Anthony Lilliman: The voice of the Party in the Church. Lilliman is a corrupt priest who molests the young girls in his various parishes. Like Prothero, he worked at Larkhill before being given a higher employment by the state. Lilliman was a priest who was hired to give spiritual support to the prisoners being given Batch 5 drugs. He is killed after he almost rapes Evey Hammond (who is dressed up as a young girl), when V forces him to take communion with a cyanide-laced wafer.
- Dr. Delia Surridge: Larkhill camp doctor whom V kills by lethal injection of an unspecified drug. Surridge (the only one of V's former tormentors who feels remorse for her actions) apologizes to him in her final moments of life. Finch also mentions that he has feelings for her, and he feels maddened at her death and determined to end V's life.
- Derek Almond: A high-ranking official of the Norsefire government. He ran the government's secret police force, known as The Finger. Almond is warned by Finch that Surridge will be the last of V's targets and goes to her house to prevent him but is killed by V. Almond is replaced by Peter Creedy. His death sets in motion one of the novel's major story arcs; that of his widow, Rose, who is left penniless and traumatized by the loss of her husband, who was cold and abusive toward her but whom she nevertheless loved. In her grief and desperation, she blames her plight on Norsefire's leader, Adam Susan, and assassinates him at the novel's climax.
- Valerie Page: A critically acclaimed actress who was imprisoned at Larkhill when the government found out she was a lesbian. Her tragic fate at the hands of the regime inspires V to fight against Norsefire.
- Roger Dascombe: The technical supervisor for the Party's media division and the Propaganda Minister of The Mouth. In the first scene with him, he is presented as being openly effeminate. After Derek Almond's death, Dascombe sets his sights on his widow, Rosemary, who eventually turns to him for support. During V's attack on Jordan Tower, he is set up as a dummy V and killed by the police.
- Alistair "Ally" Harper: The Scottish organized crime boss who kills Evey's lover Gordon. Initially Creedy hires him and his men to temporarily bolster the police force after V destroys the government's surveillance equipment, but Helen Heyer recruits him to her side to ensure Creedy's downfall by offering to place him in charge of the Finger after Conrad comes to power. He temporarily becomes Helen's lover. After Creedy's takeover, Ally fulfills his end of the bargain with Helen and kills Creedy with a lethal slash from his straight razor. Conrad beats Harper to death with a wrench as Ally fatally slices his neck.
Themes and motifs
The series was Moore's first use of the densely detailed narrative and multiple plot lines that would feature heavily in Watchmen. Panel backgrounds are often crammed with clues and red herrings; literary allusions and wordplay are prominent in the chapter titles and in V's speech (which almost always takes the form of iambic pentameter, a poetic meter reliant on five pairs of syllables, the second syllable of each pair being more stressed than the first; its most famous usage has been in the many works of William Shakespeare).
V reads Evey to sleep with The Magic Faraway Tree. This series provides the source of "The Land of Do-As-You-Please" and "The Land of Take-What-You-Want" alluded to throughout the series. Another cultural reference rings out — mainly in the theatrical version: "Remember, remember, the Fifth of November: the gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot". These lines allude directly to the story of Guy Fawkes and his participation in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.
Anarchism versus fascism
The two conflicting political viewpoints of anarchism and fascism permeate the story. The Norsefire regime shares every facet of fascist ideology: it is highly xenophobic, rules the nation through both fear and force, and worships strong leadership (i.e. Führerprinzip). As in most fascist regimes, there are several different types of state organizations which engage in power struggles with each other yet obey the same leader. V, meanwhile, ultimately strives for a "free society" ordered by its own consent.
V himself remains something of an enigma whose history is only hinted at. The bulk of the story is told from the viewpoints of other characters: V's admirer and apprentice Evey, a 16-year-old factory worker; Eric Finch, a world-weary and pragmatic policeman who is hunting V; and several contenders for power within the fascist party. V's destructive acts are morally ambiguous, and a central theme of the series is the rationalization of atrocities in the name of a higher goal, whether it is stability or freedom. The character is a mixture of an actual advocate of anarchism and the traditional stereotype of the anarchist as a terrorist.
Moore stated in an interview:
|“||The central question is, is this guy right? Or is he mad? What do you, the reader, think about this? Which struck me as a properly anarchist solution. I didn't want to tell people what to think, I just wanted to tell people to think and consider some of these admittedly extreme little elements, which nevertheless do recur fairly regularly throughout human history.||”|
Moore has never clarified V's precise background, beyond stating "that V isn't Evey's father, Whistler's mother, or Charley's aunt"; he does point out that V's identity is never revealed in the book. The ambiguity of the V character is a running theme through the work, which leaves readers to determine for themselves whether V is sane or psychotic, hero or villain. Before donning the Guy Fawkes mask herself, Evey comes to the conclusion that V's identity is unimportant compared to the role he plays, making his identity itself the idea he embodies.
The first filming of an adaptation of V for Vendetta for the screen involved one of the scenes in the documentary feature film The Mindscape of Alan Moore, shot in early 2002. The dramatization contains no dialogue by the main character, but uses the Voice of Fate as an introduction.
On 17 March 2006 Warner Brothers released a feature-film adaptation of V for Vendetta, directed by James McTeigue (first assistant director on The Matrix films) from a screenplay by the Wachowskis. Natalie Portman stars as Evey Hammond and Hugo Weaving as V, together with Stephen Rea, John Hurt, Rupert Graves and Stephen Fry. Hurt, who played the renamed High Chancellor Adam Susan in the film V for Vendetta, also played Winston Smith in the 1984 film adaptation of George Orwell's novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Originally slated for a 4 November 2005 release, a day before the Guy Fawkes Night and the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, it was postponed until March 17, 2006, possibly due to the 7 July 2005 London bombings, although producers denied this was the reason.
Alan Moore distanced himself from the film, as he has with every screen adaptation of his works to date[update]. 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 movie. After reading the script, Moore remarked:
|“||[The movie] has been "turned into a Bush-era parable by people too timid to set a political satire in their own country.... It's a thwarted and frustrated and largely impotent American liberal fantasy of someone with American liberal values standing up against a state run by neoconservatives — which is not what the comic V for Vendetta was about. It was about fascism, it was about anarchy, it was about England.||”|
He later adds that if the Wachowskis had wanted to protest about what was going on in the United States, then they should have used a political narrative that directly addressed the issues of the USA, similar to what Moore had done before with Britain. The film changes the original message by arguably having changed "V" into a freedom fighter instead of an anarchist. An interview with producer Joel Silver suggests that the change may not have been conscious; he identifies the V of the comics as a clear-cut "superhero... a masked avenger who pretty much saves the world," a simplification that goes against Moore's own statements about V's role in the story.
|“||It's a terrific film. The most extraordinary thing about it for me was seeing scenes that I'd worked on and crafted for maximum effect in the book translated to film with the same degree of care and effect. The "transformation" scene between Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving is just great. If you happen to be one of those people who admires the original so much that changes to it will automatically turn you off, then you may dislike the film—but if you enjoyed the original and can accept an adaptation that is different to its source material but equally as powerful, then you'll be as impressed as I was with it.||”|
Anonymous, an Internet-based group, has adopted the Guy Fawkes mask as their symbol (in reference to an Internet meme). Members wore such masks, for example, during Project Chanology's protests against the Church of Scientology in 2008. Alan Moore had this to say about the use of the Guy Fawkes motif adopted from his comic V for Vendetta, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:
|“||I was also quite heartened the other day when watching the news to see that there were demonstrations outside the Scientology headquarters over here, and that they suddenly flashed to a clip showing all these demonstrators wearing V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes masks. That pleased me. That gave me a warm little glow.||”|
During the Occupy Wall Street and other ongoing Occupy protests, the mask appeared internationally as a symbol of popular revolution. Artist David Lloyd stated: "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."
On November 17, 2012 police officials in Dubai warned against wearing Guy Fawkes masks painted with the colors of the UAE flag during any celebration associated with the UAE National Day (December 2), declaring such use an illegal act after masks went on sale in online shops for 50 DHS.
The entire V story has appeared collected in paperback (ISBN 0-930289-52-8) and hardback (ISBN 1-4012-0792-8) form. In August 2009 DC published a slipcased Absolute Edition (ISBN 1-4012-2361-3); this includes newly-coloured "silent art" pages (full-page panels containing no dialogue) from the series' original run, which have not appeared in any previous collected edition.
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