19 April 2010

V for Vendetta

Perhaps V for Vendetta is one of a few films that directly pertains to what is currently happening in Thailand. Centering on the issues of censorship, power, and violence, the film is set in London in the future whereby civil wars are common and violent suppression is something not totally unheard of.

V, the name of the masked man, is unhappy with how the government administers their work through distorted media and a series of cover-ups. People are brainwashed not to think or disagree with how things are run. Those who show a modicum of dissent will be 'silenced' and made disappeared through various means, some of them including the use of fatally poisonous germs. Thus, it's no wonder how in the beginning of the film we see people just go about doing their routine jobs in a very boring setting, where there's no art or literature that may enable them to think and criticize.

This tedious setting is set in contrast to V's own apartment, peopled by a great number of famous paintings and books. This acculturation of early forms of civilization enables V to think differently and abhor the government's cheap media spinning and concocting of lies or partial truths. Besides V was also a victim of the plot by the government to try their new invention -- a fatal germ -- on living people to test for possible immunities. Apparently, none but V survived and his body has ironically been beefed up in this process.

However, watching this film doesn't give me any hope for change. Just look at how surreal the whole thing is presented, how V is modeled on a superhero figure who is both intellectual and distinguished by his bodily stamina. Besides, he's eloquent with words, a feature that is rarely attributed to the majority of heroes who choose to remain reticent. V, on the contrary, talks a lot and somehow one can sense that he'd better be an English teacher than a hero.

There's one thing I don't like about the film -- the torture of Evey Hammond. It turns out that she's been subjected to a series of torments by V's own hands. What I don't understand is how she could forgive him so easily and continue to trust him, despite his misbehavior that could've led to her death. However, there're also some points that strike me as interesting -- how she needs to learn not to fear death before being part of his team. The film shows that such fearlessness ironically needs violent infliction of pain and mental stress. This leads to a crucial issue in the film, that is, how violence is somehow necessary in the creation of freedom. To have freedom, you must be able to stare at death in the eyes and must also be able to stand out from the crowd. However, in order to do that, you need to be subjected to violence that breaks you from the societal mold. This is simply because somehow peace comes with fear and fear sometimes comes with selfishness.

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