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|
|Edited by||Martin Walsh|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$132.5 million|
V for Vendetta is a 2006 dystopian political thriller film directed by James McTeigue and written by The Wachowski Brothers, based on the 1988 Vertigo Comics limited series of the same name by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. The film is set in an alternate future where a neo-fascist regime has subjugated the United Kingdom. Hugo Weaving portrays V, an anarchist freedom fighter who attempts to ignite a revolution through elaborate terrorist acts and Natalie Portman plays Evey, a young, working-class woman caught up in V's mission, while Stephen Rea portrays the detective leading a desperate quest to stop V.
The film was originally scheduled for release by Warner Bros. on Friday, November 4, 2005 (a day before the 400th Guy Fawkes Night), but was delayed; it opened on March 17, 2006, to positive reviews. Alan Moore, having been dissatisfied with the film adaptations of his other works From Hell (2001) and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), declined to watch the film and asked not to be credited or paid royalties.
V for Vendetta has been seen by many political groups as an allegory of oppression by government; libertarians and anarchists have used it to promote their beliefs. 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."
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Themes
- 4 Production and release
- 5 Reception
- 6 Differences between the film and graphic novel
- 7 Marketing
- 8 Cultural influence
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
In the late 2020s the world is in turmoil, with the United States fractured as a result of prolonged civil war and a pandemic of the "St. Mary's Virus" ravaging Europe. The United Kingdom is ruled as a fascist police state by the Norsefire Party. Political opponents, immigrants, Muslims, homosexuals and other "undesirables" are imprisoned in concentration camps. On November 4, a Guy Fawkes-masked vigilante identifying himself as "V" (Hugo Weaving) rescues Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman), an employee of the state-run British Television Network (BTN), from members of the "Fingermen" secret police while she is out past curfew. From a rooftop, they watch his demolition of the Old Bailey criminal court building, accompanied by fireworks and the 1812 Overture. Inspector Finch (Stephen Rea), Scotland Yard's Chief of Police, is tasked with investigating V's activities while BTN declares the incident an "emergency demolition". V interrupts the broadcast to claim responsibility and encourage the people of Britain to rise up against their government and meet him on November 5 (Guy Fawkes Night), outside the Houses of Parliament. During the broadcast, the police attempt to capture V. Evey helps him escape but is knocked unconscious.
V takes Evey to his home, where she is told she must remain for one year. V then kills Lewis Prothero (Roger Allam), Norsefire's chief propagandist, and Anthony Lilliman (John Standing), the Bishop of London. Evey offers to help, and uses the opportunity to escape to the home of her boss, comedian and talk show host Gordon Deitrich (Stephen Fry). In return for Evey trusting him with her safety, Gordon reveals prohibited materials including subversive paintings, an antique Quran, and homoerotic photographs. After Gordon performs a satire of the government on his show, his home is raided and Evey is captured. She is imprisoned and tortured for information about V, with her only solace being a note written by actress Valerie Page (Natasha Wightman), a former prisoner.
Evey is told she will be executed unless she reveals V's location. When she says she would rather die, she is released and finds herself in V's home. It turns out that V was the one who had "captured" her at Gordon's home, and staged her imprisonment and torture to free her from her fears. The note was real, passed from Valerie to V when he was imprisoned. He also informs her that Deitrich had been executed when the Quran was found in his home. While Evey initially hates V for what he did to her, she realises she has become a stronger person. She leaves him, promising to return before November 5.
Finch learns V is the result of human experimentation and is murdering the people who detained him. Finch searches for the true identity of V, tracing him to a bioweapons program at a detention centre for "social deviants" and political dissidents in Larkhill concentration camp. Finch meets William Rookwood, who tells him that the program, directed by then-Undersecretary Adam Sutler (John Hurt), resulted in the creation of the "St. Mary's Virus" and its release in a false flag terrorist attack. The deaths of over 100,000 people and the resulting fear enabled the Norsefire Party to win the next election and turn the country into a totalitarian state under Sutler's rule as High Chancellor. Finch later discovers the man he met was V in disguise, and Finch initially disbelieves his story.
As November 5 nears, V distributes thousands of Guy Fawkes masks and the population questions Party rule. On the eve of November 5, Evey visits V, who shows her an explosive-laden train in the abandoned London Underground, set to destroy Parliament. He leaves it to Evey to decide whether to use it. V meets Party Leader Creedy (Tim Pigott-Smith), with whom he made a deal to surrender in exchange for Sutler's execution. After Creedy executes Sutler, V reneges on his deal and kills Creedy and his men. Mortally wounded, he returns to Evey and tells her he loves her before dying.
As Evey places V's body aboard the train she is found by Finch. Disillusioned by the Party's regime, Finch allows Evey to send the train. Thousands of unarmed Londoners wearing Guy Fawkes masks march towards Parliament. As Creedy and Sutler are both dead, the military receives no orders, and allows the crowd to pass. Parliament is destroyed as Finch asks Evey for V's identity, 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 Wachowskis 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 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 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.
- Stephen Fry portrays Gordon Deitrich, a closeted homosexual and talk/comedy 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."
- Also included in the cast are Tim Pigott-Smith as Peter Creedy, Norsefire's Party leader and the head of Britain's secret police (the "Finger"); 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 mirror 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, both common features among modern totalitarian regimes and reminiscent of the image of Big Brother. 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. 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 lesbianism and then had medical experiments performed on her, reminiscent of the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. The name "Adam Sutler" and his hysterical style of speech are inspired by Adolf Hitler although Jews appear to have been replaced by Muslims as a target for persecution. 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.
Modern fears of totalitarianism
The filmmakers added topical references relevant to a 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.
Film critics, political commentators and other members of the media have also noted the film's numerous references to events surrounding the George W. Bush administration in the United States. These include the hoods and sacks worn by the prisoners in Larkhill that have been seen as a reference to the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse. The Homeland Security Advisory System and rendition are also referenced. 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.
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 modernise 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 December 7, 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. Since the mask muffled Weaving's voice, his entire dialogue was re-recorded in post-production.
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 Britain... 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 then Houses of Parliament in order to spark a revolution in England. The film was originally scheduled for release on the weekend of November 5, 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 March 17, 2006. Many have speculated that the delay was caused by the London tube bombing on the July 7 and the failed July 21 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 March 17, 2006 in 3,365 cinemas in the United States, the United Kingdom and six other countries.
By December 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.
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 (in 2008) named the film the 418th greatest movie 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 April 17, 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 film "by someone who's essentially Hitler, a dictator."
LGBT commentators have praised the film for its positive depiction of homosexuals. Sarah Warn of AfterEllen.com called the film "one of the most pro-gay ever". Warn went on to praise the central role of the character Valerie "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 criticises V's actions as "antidemocratic," calling the film an example of "the bankruptcy of anarcho-terrorist ideology;" Walsh writes 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 December 16, 2012 completely uncensored, 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 Alan Moore and David Lloyd's graphic novel V for Vendetta; 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 Wachowski Brothers 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 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 film, however, Gordon is a well-mannered colleague of Evey's, and is later revealed to be gay. He is arrested by fingermen for broadcasting a political parody on his TV program, and is later executed when a Quran is found in his possession.
V for Vendetta was released on DVD in the US on August 1, 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-film experience' created exclusively for the disc. Warner Bros. later released the video on Blu-Ray, on May 20, 2008. The film also saw release on Sony's PSP UMD format.
The V for Vendetta soundtrack was released by Astralwerks Records on March 21, 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 Gerhl" 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 organising 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 November 5, 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 January 31, 2006. Spencer Lamm, who has worked with the Wachowskis, created a "behind-the-scenes" book. Titled V for Vendetta: From Script to Film, it was published by Universe on August 22, 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.
- The ideology of the hero of the film has greatly influenced the ideological group called Anonymous, which adopts the typical mask as its symbol.
- In 2007 Italian comedian and activist Beppe Grillo, on the occasion of V-Day and V2-Day (a political campaign of public mobilisation in Italy to prevent the nomination as Parliamentary candidates of recipients of criminal convictions and other issues), has reused the graphic symbol of the "V" revising the ideology of Moore's work. The same "V" is also contained in the symbol of the 5 Star Movement, founded in 2009 by the same Grillo.
- French rapper Keny Arkana used the symbol "V" for her song "V pour Vérités", a hymn to collective awakening and for an uprising against a sick system.
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Inspector Finch recognises the background noise as Beethoven's Fifth, and states: "It's Morse code for the letter "V""
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- V for Vendetta script at the Internet Movie Script Database