V for Vendetta Bleeds Orwellian Dystopia

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James McTeigue directs what I would suggest is a powerful re-imagining of George Orwell’s (Eric Blair’s) 1984. Many of us had the pleasure of reading the novel and all its eerie glory in high school. Portentous and incredibly disturbing, it serves as a warning for all future generations to avoid falling into the void of complacency when it comes to government. When a government fails to represent the interests of its people, its legitimacy vanishes. It seems to me a vicious cycle when a coups d’etat only leads to the establishment of a centralized government where one individual has supreme power. Won’t this inevitably lead to future uprisings? This is why V says governments should be afraid of their people, not the other way around. This all smacks of Marx, yet it was he who said, “they cannot represent themselves, they must be represented. Their representative must at the same time appear as their master…” in 1852 regarding the French peasantry living under Bonaparte’s reign. Though it is agreed that these people were marginalized and lacked the resources to make their voices heard, it seems presumptuous at the least, despotic at worst, to appoint ourselves as their “betters,” capable of ruling over them benignly and without a shred of self-interest. A recipe for continued disaster, I’d say.
The movie evokes the descent into complete helplessness that 1984 builds, though ending on a hopeful note. The setting and backstory for the movie are dead-on to the book, though the plot and characters are fundamentally different. The populace in the movie are living, breathing drones, resigned to their fate. But with his devilish charisma, V invites them to simply “look into the mirror” when looking for someone to blame. The bystanders are far more dangerous than the villains, because they can do something, but choose not to. It is far easier to sit back and accept your fate as someone else writes it, than to rise up and reclaim your life.
The performances are also spectacular, with Hugo Weaving giving the man behind the mask real substance. His voice captivates your senses. Natalie Portman (whom I love–if only because she studied Psychology at Harvard–oh and she’s an awesome actress to boot) took my body and mind into hers as she lived through the fear, the torture, and the re-birth. In the novel, Winston does not experience a rebirth after the suffering. They take his humanity from him, whereas Evey reclaims hers. It is one of the most tragic endings I’ve ever read, and it doesn’t even involve his death. Indeed, some things are far worse than death.
As with all good movies (and books), this is one where you will discover a number of hidden nuances each time you watch it.

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Silver Linings Playbook: Scripted?

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Spolier-alert!

I just read a blog post with some lukewarm commentary about the film, and it got me to thinking. So this is mainly a rebuttal to the criticism lodged at the “feel good” ending of the film as being a typical Hollywood stilt. Granted, I can see why some would view the ending as part of a larger scheme to win the hearts of the audience, but then again, what’s so wrong with that? It’s far from a Nicholas Sparks book-turned-movie, which follows the same pre-programmed and gag-inducing story arc time and time again: rebellious youth shows up in a new town/situation; said youth falls for their antithesis personified–very much bad boy/choir girl type of deal; their love struggles through hardship but before long proves unconditional; someone dies tragically; more suffering and pining; they end up in each other’s arms.
Note: One of them might be holding a corpse. Ugh. Disgusting. And I’m not talking about the corpse. Please tell me, how can anyone actually enjoy these movies?
I should stop, I’m probably offending people, but in all honesty, if you’re a Sparks-head, you should probably go. Go on. Scoot! 😉

Sorry, digressions are an occupational hazard of mine. Getting back to the movie, I’m opposed to the idea that a happy ending detracts from the movie’s worth. Indeed, if the main character Pat would have ended up with his ex-wife, whom he hopelessly pursued for much of the film, I would’ve been very disappointed. The connection between Pat’s desire for a happy literary ending and his own happiness is clear. He even mentions it with Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and how he can’t stand the way life is already fucked up enough as it is without making literature that way too.

We could speculate all day, thinking Pat and Tiffany won’t last very long because of their “afflictions” (arbitrarily defined by the APA, I might add), but perhaps their “dis-order” is simply such that they can see the world in a different way and interact with it accordingly. They make this point in the film as well, and I don’t think it’s meant to be a simple case of denial. There’s definite legitimacy to this argument. So, I don’t think it’s two “broken” people coming together, I think it’s two dysfunctional people (albeit in a different way from most others) that want to test the waters of their unconventional relationship. Yes, it’s contingent on a lot of factors, but what isn’t?

The author of the post kept referring to Pat’s ex-wife as his wife, and that he should have remained on his quest to win her over. Oddly enough, a point no one seemed to be making is the unequivocal one that his wife cheated on him! I mean, jeez, I’m all about forgiving someone who’s made a mistake, but let’s not sanctify her and vilify him in the process, either. Their marriage was clearly on the rocks, and Pat’s delusion was in denying this. His relationship with Tiffany finally lifted that veil clouding his vision. His ex-wife had clearly moved on. Can’t we be happy that he did the same, without a shred of judgment or spite?

Great movie, though. Definitely worth watching, happy ending and all.