Saturday, June 27, 2009

You Say You Want A Revolution?

Today, Steve's birthday present, a new amplifier for our tv's surround sound, arrived. After several fevered hours hovering over wires, remotes, and cantankerous equipment, he finally got everything set up to his satisfaction. Then out came the Blu-Ray disc to test out the new sound. He tried all the ones we owned that had big sound, Pirates of the Carribean, Chronicles of Narnia, and also V for Vendetta. Watching clips of the latter reminded me of the review I wrote of the film for the school paper, and I thought I'd post it. (Forgive any dated material, like a reference to the impending election.) If you've already seen V, good for you. You already know. If not, then keep reading...

You Say You Want A Revolution?

With the presidential elections just around the corner, it is easy to find yourself disgusted with petty politics and puzzling policies, and the ongoing financial crisis does nothing to improve your mood. Maybe a reminder that things could always be worse would make you feel better, so you decide to check out that movie you missed in the theaters, V for Vendetta. Suddenly you are not sure whether you feel better, or just worried.

V for Vendetta is based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore, and the screenplay was written by the Matrix creators, the Wachowski brothers. The film is set in London and shows our world in the near-future, with the U.S. in civil war and Great Britain under a totalitarian regime. Out of the chaos walks a revolutionary in a Guy Fawkes mask and black cape intent on bringing about change at any cost. This man-in-black goes simply by the name “V” and is played by Hugo Weaving (The Matrix). Natalie Portman plays Evey, a young woman alone in the world with little to lose. Together they work to overthrow corrupt leaders, both political and religious.

While the film takes liberties with the original story (and what book adaptation doesn’t?), it manages to capture the look and mood of the graphic novel. Because the main character remains behind a mask for the entire film, you might think that it wouldn’t matter who they cast. Somehow Hugo Weaving manages to make the mask work, though, and soon the viewer feels like they can see subtle changes in a face that never actually moves. Natalie Portman manages to be one of the few non-British actresses who can pull off a decent British accent, and her portrayal of Evey, the conflicted revolutionary, is compelling.

Music plays an important role in V. Apart from the soundtrack, there is also the highly symbolic music that “V” chooses to accompany his terrorist activities. You will probably never feel the same way about the Overture of 1812 ever again, and as anyone who knows Morse code will tell you, the three-short-one-long beats of Beethoven’s Symphony Number 5 (or V) are code for the letter V.

Aside from the great acting and stirring music, however, there is the all-important plot twist. For the viewer who loves a good head-scratching surprise, V delivers in a big way. In fact, this twist is the very thing to keep the film on the entertaining and touching side and away from the dogmatic.

If you have already seen V for Vendetta, don’t worry. There is still a new experience waiting for you…the V for Vendetta blu ray disc. Not only will you get the most amazing HD picture ever, you also get tons of bonus features that give you the skinny on all things “V.” Most importantly, though, if you have already seen V and you have a friend who has not, don’t give away the surprise. Just hand them your copy and maybe hum a little Tchaikovsky to yourself.

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