Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Movies Shouldn't Fear Their Reviewers; Reviewers Should Fear Their Movies

Since the new fashion on the right seems to be writing critiques of films without bothering to see them, I thought I'd join in by commenting only on the "graphic novel" version of V For Vendetta.

First, the art is so murky that it not only fails to contribute to the book, but actually confuses the reader about what is happening in several places. You can see some great unexploited possibiities for a movie there, though, where clear photography and good color could have great impact. (Strangely, I've seen several reviewers saying the movie reminds them of the Phantom of the Opera, but not the first thing I saw: Zorro.)

Second, the writing is not up to Moore's best work in Watchmen or From Hell, though it is just as dark and gloomy. He still has lots of his brilliant connections, such as the whole V is prisoner Roman numeral V, the start of Beethoven's Fifth being the Morse code for V, the tie-ins with then-current anarchist graffiti, and so on. One minor flaw is the title. This is not a vendetta (by the family of the victim), but simple revenge by the victim himself. V For Vengeance would have worked just as well and been accurate. Worth reading, and probably makes a better movie than book.

That said, there is a real moral problem here, one seen in more than one anti-establishment work of fiction. V makes the heroine believe she has been captured and imprisoned by the tyrannical state, at least psychologically torturing her with an inquisition. That's okay, though, because that causes her to break through her old mental barriers against killing the fascists. Hogwash.

Torture is torture, and it cannot be justified no matter what mental blocks anyone is suffering from. This role-playing brainwashing is no more tolerable than involuntary shock therapy. As for (NOTE: Warning -- spoiler ahead!!) using that as a tool to convert someone into another anti-government activist, that is neither acceptable or needed. If you want to see how it should be done, read Mike Resnick's wonderful novel Santiago.


Anonymous Erik said...

I rather thought that V was off his rocker and thus didn't really consider or care about the moral issues of what he was doing. He was an antihero. His torture of Evey was inescusable however it also showed the reader the depths of his madness.

Also considering the time in which it was written it was remarkable that anyone bothered publishing it. Although it may have been riding on the coat tails of the Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel Maus.

4:56 PM  

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