V for Vendetta Scene Analysis:
“A building is a symbol, as is the act of destroying it. Symbols are given power by people. Alone, a symbol is meaningless, but with enough people, blowing up a building can change the world.” In the critically acclaimed film, V for Vendetta, directed by James McTeigue and written by The Wachowski Brothers, insurgence and anarchy within dystopian society is accentuated through the use of cinematography techniques. Through V for Vendetta, we follow the life of Evey, a woman living in the near future London, which has become a police state occupied by a fascist government, suppressing any forms of rights and freedom. It is then that we meet V, a vigilante who avoids conforming to the regime in order to create a revolution, rebelling against the oppressors of the world in which he now lives.V intends to commit subversive acts, with the hope that society will become influenced by this, and one day diverge from such tyrannical extremes. With the rush of insurgency, we discover the power of ideas and how they hold the ability to shape society. With enough support behind something as simple as an idea, it has the ability to regain peace and rid of infringements on human freedom. The director has used cinematography techniques such as symbolism, camera angles and montage to portray the way ideas can rebuild society, yet also cause us to reflect on society and promote emotive feelings towards the film.
“Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.” In V for Vendetta, McTeigue has used camera angles and symbolism in the fighting scene to demonstrate the importance of ideas and how they can rebuild society. In this scene, we see chancellor Sutler on TV, looking very made up, hair slicked back, looking sane and steady, demonstrating his confidence and jurisdiction. Chancellor Sutler appears to knows what he is doing, and hold all control on the situation, that perhaps the parliament building will be blown up in the next 24 hours. The chancellor has continuously been viewed from very zoomed in and from low angles, representing his superiority. This causes the viewer to feel inferior compared to chancellor. As we are always looked down upon, it conforms us into something lesser, and gives the impression that the chancellor holds all the power in the circumstances, making the viewer seem small and insignificant. Characters in the film that view him constantly feel as though they must obey his orders, considering his presented importance and hostile behaviour. Under such strong dictatorship, society is forced to follow what they think is right. Information from the chancellor is constantly broadcasted, influencing all into believing what they’re told. “I want this country to realise that we stand on the edge of oblivion. I want every man, woman and child to understand how close we are to chaos. I want everyone to remember why they need us!” This has constantly been seen in todays society, where civilizations grow more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under totalitarianism, it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes. Nazi Germany is an example of this that we have seen in history. Through fear, fascists have caused society to conform to absurd control as they fear for their lives. Hitler held a great deal of power and the ability to drive a whole population into following his orders, no matter how irrational they were. This is seen where society is too afraid to go against what they’re told, as fear controls actions heavily. Further on into the scene however, we see a figure brought in with a black bag over his head, which reveals the chancellor. Black bagging, or ‘hooding’ is infamous for torturous aspects and became very popular after World War II as a means of “stealthy torture,” the victim can testify only with difficulty as to who did what to them. This brings forth suspense to the viewer, as we are put in the chancellors shoes. We feel the confusion as his vision is restored and he is faced with great deals of shock, as V’s plan is finally revealed to him. There is blood dripping from the chancellor’s head, his eyes are wide and fear is written across his face, where he can’t form words. We also view, for the first time, the chancellor from above. The director has purposely used this camera technique to portray how defeated the chancellor has become due to V’s actions, acting as a juxtaposition where we had constantly been viewing the chancellor as an authoritative figure with striking confidence. We finally see the chancellor from a subservient perspective, and can look down on him to be a smaller person. Through belief in the idea that the government can be opposed, we begin to see less and less of the chancellor from a superior point of view, and eventually see him on his knees searching for mercy. This ultimately cleanses the one thing holding society back from true freedom, the cause and need for insurrection. The real terrorist.
“Die, die, why won’t you die?” V is also creating art by killing. In the scene, he fights the armed force as though it is a dance, where there are theatrical aspects to his movements. In the scene, as V fights against Creedy and his army after Chancellor Sutler is killed, his movements are emphasised with slow motion, where we view V drawing his knives and swinging with wide movement, which almost compares to a slow dance. “There’s no good revolution without dancing”. His last dance was the fight, as he wants to stand perfected as his plan had taken over 20 years to commence, yet finally gains the power with enough support to follow through with his word. It demonstrates that once the chancellor has been killed, V holds more strength that he has ever had, and has the ability to take down a whole army. The term rendition is also often referred to in the film, which comments on the fact that V’s actions were more of a performance than a violent act. The way that V fights matches to his dramatic persona, where theatricality themes shine through. The director is implying that every person that dies is for the greater good of the country, therefore it seems satisfying to us as the viewer with the way that V kills them. It doesn’t make us feel scared or threatened by the killing with which we do in other films, because at this point, we know that it is for the best change. His ideas of freedom and justice can endure and retain their power, even when V is defeated. Ideas never truly die.
Symbolism has also been utilised by the director in the domino scene order to portray the significance of ideas and how they can reshape society. V plays the most important role in defining the changes that want to see in society. V is a recurring symbol. His identity is never revealed which was used to show that he doesn’t hold humanistic traits, it is left for us as the viewer to identify him, determine for ourselves whether he is psychotic or sane, hero or villain. “He was Edmond Dantés… and he was my father. And my mother… my brother… my friend. He was you… and me. He was all of us.” V is not a name, is it simply a symbol, which emphasises the fact that a persona should not be assigned to V, yet more associated with a concept or idea for change. V may have been defeated like guy fawkes, however ideas of freedom and justice can endure and retain their power, and the change continues on even after V’s death from the support of society. In the scene, we see a pattern of red and black dominoes set up in the shape of a V, set up by V, one at a time. These dominoes portray symbolism as they represent his plan. V set up his revolution and then we see his gloved finger flick over one domino, a small action, and his plan commences. Pushing one domino will have relatively no effect, but when multiple dominoes fall, they set off a series of events that is virtually impossible to stop. As the dominoes fall, we see the surge of movement between all dominoes. The director is communicating to the audience that one domino represents the individual, and each individual who participates enlarges the pattern, increasing its capacity to destroy when knocked down. He also is communicating to the audience that V’s plan is not to stand alone as an individual, but instead to influence and unite the citizens in order to take down sutlers repressive society. Each domino represents an event leading to revolution, “I suddenly had this feeling that everything was connected. It’s like I could see the whole thing, one long chain of events that stretched all the way back before Larkhill. I felt like I could see everything that happened, and everything that is going to happen. It was like a perfect pattern, laid out in front of me. And I realised we’re all part of it, and all trapped by it.” V wants to stand perfected, by pushing down dominoes in a perfect pattern, it allows a masterpiece to be created, a perfect revolution, which we also see under his acts of killing in the fighting scene. As the dominoes fall, we here loud diegetic noises that sound like yelling of people, chaos. The sounds of large crowds given off by the dominoes are mixed with riot sounds, which leads on to heavy use of montage. We see cutting between scenes of rioters and the dominoes falling. Real life footage of riots is included in the montage, which causes us as the viewer to feel great deals of suspense and adrenaline as we are ultimately shown the effects of falling ‘dominoes’, the results of a large population rebelling against the government, “anarchy in the UK”. Because of the real life footage, the scene also encapsulates the viewer, bringing out our fear, as we know that society is actually capable of creating such havoc. The footage adds drama, and makes the viewer feel as though the storyline is something that we may see in our world today. Montage also reflects the pandemonium as it cuts quickly through scenes, giving us little time to think about what we see. This is what happens in riots, where irrational decisions are made in the spur of the moment, as minds become very unclear when chaos arises. There is also no clear chronological order to the scenes in the montage, showing the past, present and what may happen if V’s idea is followed. While these events that we are witnessing, as the viewer, may seem to be analogous, the are in fact interrelated. The scene ends with one last standing domino. I believe it represents the change, that from all the people falling down and conforming to oppression, there will be one that stands to a revolution, an idea that holds great power and seeks change for London, society, others. V.
In ‘V for Vendetta’, the director, James McTeigue and writers, The Wachowski Brothers have utilised many camera techniques in order to portray the way that ideas can shape yet also rebuild society. Using techniques such as changes in camera angle, symbolism, and , motifs and a great deal of allusion are presented to us as the viewer. The screenplay in the film causes us as the viewer to experience emotion changes and also reflect on societal issues, which really demonstrates the deeper meaning hidden behind each scene. V for Vendetta endeavours into dictatorship and dystopian London’s descent into tyranny, yet presents that with enough belief behind something as simple as an idea, there is enough power to change the way a country is run. I believe that this film serves as a lesson for what can actually happen today in a governmental situation. perhaps in USA 2017 this movie could be addressed, due to the great deal of dissension of the presidential election, where Donald Trump became the new leader of the Country. With something as an important as an idea to change the way the country is being controlled, and with enough support behind it, i’m sure that it is possible to see the recuperation of a population. I do not believe that blowing up an important building in society is the best way to see change, however I theorize that the power of the people that want to see change is enough, if all come together as one.