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Wednesday, April 5, 2006

V for Vehiculum

Saturday night, I went to the late movie to see V for Vendetta with Sarah, Amanda and Lisa. I have mixed emotions about the movie, but the more I think about it, the more I'm leaning toward overall distaste. I take most of the blame because I should have done my research. Going into the movie, I was expecting an action-thriller with a side of politics. Instead, I left the theater feeling as if I'd just had a political agenda shoved down my throat.

Before I begin, let me throw in a disclaimer about my politics. I have conservative roots and foundation, yet I sway slightly toward libertarian philosophy, with exceptions. I am not easily offended by differing political viewpoints and social issues, however I do have strong opinions about my own.

I appreciate the thematic elements of the movie. V for Vendetta certainly challenged a school of thought. The society V fights for is one where people are free to live and practice as they choose. It doesn't censor media and entertainment. As a conservative, even I can appreciate that kind of tolerance. Laissez faire is noble, indeed. And I did find quite a bit of merit in the concept that ideas don't die easily.

Unfortunately, overtly religious politics and social agenda overshadowed the theme.

Christianity was closely associated with the totalitarian government in the movie. The symbolism was so apparent, that the seal of the government was a double cross and the government was portrayed to resemble the Nazi party. Now don't get me wrong...I don't agree with the actions the government took to enforce their extremist rules and to eliminate those who were insubordinate to their rules. I took offense to the fact that the government was labeled Christian, as if that's what Christianity is about: mind-control and hatred.

I'm puzzled by the hypocrisy of the film. It preaches tolerance of belief, yet it slams Christianity for taking a stand against human sin. I can respect a Muslim, a Jew, a Morman, a Scientologist and an Athiest for the right to believe what they believe. I disagree totally with all of their belief systems, but yet, I don't have any desire to take away their rights. So why can't I have that same respect in return with my Christian beliefs?

I reference a couple of current events to support my statements. Recently, Isaac Hayes, who played the role of "Chef" on South Park, quit the show because it made fun of Scientology. He never found any problem making fun of Christianity, yet poke fun at his religion and his civil rights are violated.

I then move to Annie Proulx, journalist and author, most recently in the public spotlight for her contribution to Brokeback Mountain. Upon losing the Academy Award for Best Picture to Crash, she made public comments referring to the movie as "Trash," assuming her own movie should have won. Somehow I think that if Mrs. Proulx had seen Crash at any other time and if it had not, in fact, competed against her own movie for an Oscar, I daresay she might have liked it. Instead, she didn't get her way and chose to shame a film that was definitely worth at least an Oscar nod. She did the same for Philip Seymour Hoffman and his best actor win for Capote, when Heath Ledger didn't bring home the bacon.

My point is this: V for Vendetta labeled Christianity unfairly in a movie where they were fighting for fairness of religious freedom, thought and action. It served no other purpose that the filmmakers own interests. You can skim the hypocrisy off the top with a stick.

Something else I noticed... Extreme violence was a defining factor of the totalitarian government in the film, so one might think V is certainly a pacifist, right? Wrong. His violence in return was no less gruesome or gratuitous. Interesting how the references the movie made to "war" were directed at our current political climate. V was engaged in violence because of his crusade. Is it possible that we may compare it to a similar crusade involving violence happening at this very moment? Or does it not apply because it's a "conservatively driven" crusade and you don't agree with it?

One thing I did appreciate about the movie was the verbose nature of V and the usage of a great amount of vocabulary, including some Latin. I also took note of the acting, intricately woven symbolism, entertainment value and cinematic beauty of the film.

The movie was a bit cheesy though. At one point, Natalie Portman's character leans in to kiss V and her lip gets stuck to his plastic mask. I know it's a random detail that probably no one else noticed, but I found it to be incredibly unromantic. V for Vom.

Perhaps my greatest joy of the evening was Lisa. Sarah was sitting on my left, Amanda on my right, and Lisa to Amanda's right. Near the end of the movie, Natalie Portman and her shaved head exits the subway train after some time had elapsed in the plot, and Lisa comments loudly, "I guess she likes her hair short like that." She said it so matter-of-factly that Sarah and I burst out laughing, immediately stifling snorts and giggles in the quiet movie theater. I'm laughing thinking about it now. I guarantee Sarah is too.

One other notable "incident." Lisa was sitting beside a really odd guy, probably about mid-twenties, wearing black leather fingerless gloves (a la Wacko Jacko) with studded wrist cuffs. He was evidently very excited about the movie and proceeded to guffaw with glee and clap loudly during his favorite scenes. At first I thought something was, you know, wrong with him, so I stopped laughing because I felt bad. But later on in the movie, I realized nothing was indeed wrong with him...well, that's up for debate...


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