Good Essay About Film Project: V For Vendetta
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The movie is set in the near future in Great Britain. After the world's disasters and wars, the Norsefire Party takes over the government and establishes strict dictatorship. This newly established fascist police state has all the instruments, which are typical for totalitarianism: strong radical ideology, the only governing political party, total control over the mass media and strict censorship, repressions and concentration camps. Art, music, film, religion, homosexuality, and free-thinking are forbidden. Life goes in accordance with the guidelines of the ruling party. In the evenings on a single state-run channel, which is broadcast everywhere and always - intelligent speech statesmen are instructing obedient citizens how to live.
In the night from the 4th to the 5th of November, during the curfew, an unknown man in the mask of Guy Fawkes, who calls himself «V», rescues from the police journalist Evey Hammond. After her rescue V takes Evey to the roof, where she can observe undermining of the Old Bailey to Tchaikovsky's overture "1812".
The government reports about the planned emergency demolition of the building, but V captures the television broadcasting company and runs his own record, which calls for revolution and overthrow of the existing regime. He promises on November 5 next year to undermine the building of Parliament. By chance, Evey, the daughter of the dissidents, becomes V’s ally. Subsequently, she is grasped and imprisoned. One tortures Evey to make her tell them about V’s shelter. She refuses and prefers rather to be killed. Then she is suddenly released. Ivey understands that this was arranged by V. She also realizes that she is free from fear now and she can easily leave the shelter and meet a cruel world. She goes and watches people somehow preparing for the revolution. Later on Evey returns to V’s shelter to say her goodbye to him. She understands that she already loves V with all her heart and decides to help him.
At the end, after the assassination of Chancellor, V dies from his wounds. His is hidden on a train with explosives, which should pass under the Parliament and blow it up. He is put with the roses which he grew. Crowds of unarmed Londoners with Guy Fawkes masks on are marching towards Parliament. As Chancellor and head of the Security Service are gone, the armed forces do not receive any order to stop the demonstrators and they easily pass the military. Parliament building explodes.
The country begins a new life – a life from tabula rasa.
Analysis based on our reading
Power of ideas, beliefs and symbols
As we can see Great Britain shown in “V for Vendetta” has all key features of a totalitarian state. The country is ruled by a single leader supported be a single political party. All power is concentrated in the hands of a few political figures. To maintain their authority the party uses diverse methods and tactics which are commonly typical for totalitarian governments (e. g. USSR, North Korea, partly today’s Russia): secret police and well-armed forces, powerful propaganda, official ideology, cruel and inhuman laws.
Of course, not all of the above mentioned characteristics of totalitarian regimes are necessary and equally to be found in each of them. But all of these features are typical for totalitarianism and in different situations they can be noted fully or partly. Therefore, only when we have such indicators, we can judge whether a country is among the totalitarian states or not. Based exclusively on the establishment of the single party system or use of violence in the public administration, one can’t assume the existence of a totalitarian regime. This is especially important to keep in mind for the demarcation of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes.
Totalitarian regimes over the past half century have been repeatedly established and existed for many years in some developing countries, particularly in the form of military regimes (e.g., Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Congo, Zaire, Guinea, Niger, Ghana, Central African Republic, Nepal et al.). Today one can speak about totalitarian regimes in North Korea, Iran and some Arab states, in a number of the above-mentioned African countries, where there are still old military-police regimes.
While watching the movie, my attention was drawn by the question of power of ideas, beliefs and symbols. At the very beginning of the film Evey tells us about the idea the following (V for Vendetta, 2006):
We are told to remember the idea, not the man, because a man can fail. He can be caught, he can be killed and forgotten, but 400 years later, an idea can still change the world.
And here how V himself tells us about ideas (V for Vendetta, 2006):
Behind this mask there is more than just flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea and ideas are bulletproof.
Another point in favor of the power of our ideology and thoughts is presented in “Speaking for the humanities” (Course Readings, p. 26 ):
The current debate about the humanities can itself be seen as emerging from an ideological context since one of the results of the contemporary interest in theory and the critique of the foundations of knowledge in many disciplines has been the realization that all stances in scholarly research, as in the choice of values, imply a prior commitment to some basic belief system. The best contemporary work in the humanities strives to make clear both its critique of the ideologies of previous work, and its own inevitable ideological blindspots. At its best, contemporary humanistic thinking does not peddle ideology, but rather attempts to sensitize us to the presence of ideology in our work, and to its capacity to delude us into promoting as universal values that in fact belong to one nation, one social class, one sect.
I feel strongly that the world's largest force is a force of ideas. In the battle of ideas more "powerful" and encompassing idea will definitely win. Ideology is an idea expressed in words. Given the fact that a person can make mistakes and perhaps deliberately lie, it is possible that a competent idea may be formalized in form of rotten ideology, resulting in discrediting of the idea. It is also one of possible scenarios that the false idea is served as a "beautifully designed" ideology, whereby people are just being misled, often purposefully.
While watching the film we can hear quite often the motto of new England: “Strength through unity. Unity through faith. England prevails!” (V for Vendetta, 2006). To be honest, Hitler and Nazi images were on my mind, while watching the scenes with Chancellor. And this “England prevails” sounded as if it were Nazi salute “Heil Hitler”
Besides, to reflect objective interests and needs of society in the political ideas, those must be understood, accepted and which is more important supported. This recognition occurs at the level of psychology (in the form of feelings, moods, emotions), and at the level of ideology (in the form of theories, concepts, and so on). Here emotional processes constitute the essential background which is necessary for the development and implementation of every political idea. But emotions act as a blind force, if they are not mixed with rational understanding of reality. At the level of the political ideology, the awareness of objective interest is usually expressed in intent, in motive, in the purpose of satisfaction. Interests are a source of goals, through which they are transformed from objective to subjective ones. After all, to be implemented, interests must be understood and evaluated in the form of objectives: aimless actions cannot be realized. If the objective interest wasn’t realized, then its pure presence does not automatically lead to the formation of the target.
Furthermore, I’d like to stress the importance of symbols. This is how V explains Evey, why blowing up a building can change something (V for Vendetta, 2006):
A building is a symbol, as is the act of destroying it. Symbols are given power by people. Alone, a symbol is meaningless, but with enough people, blowing up a building can change the world.
Another symbol of the nation was so called “Voice of London” or Mr. Prothero, Commander Lewis Prothro in his past. He was a TV presenter on BTN Channel. Notably, TV channel is shown as the only one who can report news. In the movie Mr. Prothero was killed by V.
Undoubtedly, government should be chosen by people and for people’s prosperity. Building a strong and efficient government isn’t the main purpose, what we really need is that this government would rule the country wisely and lead the nation to success. If we have such responsible government “from” and “for” people, then we have democracy as a political system, in which political power is exercised freely expressing the will on the majority of citizens.
On the contrary, totalitarianism is a political system, in which authority is seeking to total (overall) control over the life of society as a whole and each person individually. Under totalitarianism there is no the dividing line between state and society, because everything is under control and regulated. Sphere of private life is extremely narrow. Thus, the nation works for the prosperity of the government.
I’m a passionate believer, in what V said to Evey regarding the correlation of the government and the people: “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people” (V for Vendetta, 2006). The nation can bear a bad government for some time, as it has chosen it, but living under total control can lead to revolution one day.
John Lock states the following in his work “Second Treatise of Government” aboy the possibility of revolution (Course Readings, p. 38 ):
. . such revolutions happen not upon every little mismanagement in public affairs. Great mistakes in the ruling part, many wrong and inconvenient laws, and all the slips of human frailty will be born by the people, without mutiny or murmur. But if a long train of abuses, prevarications, and artifices, all tending the same way, make the design visible to the people, and they cannot but feel, what they lie under, and see, whither they are going; ’tis not to be wondered, that they should then rouse themselves, and endeavor to put the rule into such hands, which may secure to them the ends for which government was at first erected. . . .
Generally, totalitarianism is a historically doomed system. Such society is incapable of effective creation and management and exists mainly due to the rich natural resources, exploitation, and restriction of consumption for the majority of the population. Totalitarianism is also a closed society, not adapted to high-quality upgrade, the new requirements of the continuously changing world.
At the beginning people begin to doubt such government. As it was shown with the example of inspector Finch in the movie (V for Vendetta, 2006):
Finch: I want to ask a question, Dominic. I don't care if you answer me or not. I just want to say this aloud The question I want to ask is about St Mary's and Three Waters. The question that's kept me up for the last 24 hours, the question I have to ask, is: What if the worst, the most horrifying, biological attack in this country's history was not the work of religious extremists?
Dominic: Well, I don't understand. We know it was. They were caught. They confessed.
Finch: And they were executed, I know. And maybe that's really what happened. But I see this chain of events, these coincidences and I have to ask: What if that isn't what happened? What if someone else unleashed that virus? What if someone else killed all those people? Would you really want to know who it was?
Finch: Even if it was someone working for this government? That's my question. If our own government was responsible for what happened at St Mary's and Three Waters if our own government was responsible for the deaths of almost a hundred thousand people would you really want to know?
Finally, the inspector realizes that the government, to which he served, is a group of killers, capable of the most terrible things, and don’t prevent Evey and V from fulfilling their plan.
It is no wonder, that the revolution is brewing in England ruled by the High Chancellor. Many factors have contributed. The most significant is, of course, an absolute, universal (total) control over the life of an individual and society exercised by the state. The government uses many tools to maintain its power. For instance, there is special secret service and unlimited phone surveillance. A system of terroristic and often secret police control was also established. “Detention Program” is mentioned. And state secret police is known to use inhuman tactics and methods – tortures, groundless arrests, etc.
In addition, there is a single powerful political party, which is closely related to the government and led by one man. There is, actually, the Norsefire Party which took over the government and established strict dictatorship. The party as well as the state is headed by High Chancellor Adam Suttler. Armed forces are totally controlled by the party. Indeed, military serve only the needs of a ruling party. At the end of the film, when Chancellor and head of the Security Service are gone, the armed forces do not receive any order to stop the demonstrators and people pass the military.
Besides, strict censorship is introduced in the mass media (“censor-approved scripts” were mentioned; chancellor orders to add Tchaikovsky's overture "1812" to the blacklist). At the same time, law and legal system is inconsistent with basic legal principles and human rights and freedoms. Discriminatory laws come into effect. In new society immigrants, Muslims, homosexuals, political opponents and other “disease ridden degenerates” are to be imprisoned, tortured and repressed. “Articles of Allegiance” are as powerful as the Constitution in a democratic country. Capital punishment is a popular method to eliminate those who are not in favor with the government.
Furthermore, powerful propaganda is exercised through mass media and religion was transformed into one of the government’s influences. They say (V for Vendetta, 2006), “No one escapes judgment” and God and Judgment are presented as the two main pillars. News are created “on a by-order basis” from the party. Information is distorted. For instance, at the very beginning people are told about emergency demolition of the building to hide the truth concerning attack. Next, V is shown as a cruel terrorist who kills unarmed civilians, though he attacked only police officers. After V’s speech on TV, V is reported to be killed, though he was not even captured. Another example is message about Mr. Prothero’s death from heart attack, whereas he was killed by V. Additionally, there are Broad blacklists of prohibited art objects as well as works.
In the US we have managed to establish the well-balanced government, where all three branches (the judiciary, the executive, the legislature) exercise their power within the system of "checks and balances". And the republican government is guaranteed by the Constitution (Course Readings, p. 10):
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.
Rights and freedoms
Human rights constitute inalienable rights of every person, regardless of nationality, place of residence, gender, ethnicity, color, religion, language or any other grounds. Very often they are provided in constitutional acts, for example, our Bill of Rights encompassing the first ten amendments provides freedom of religion, press, expression in the first amendment (Course Readings, p. 12):
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
In the totalitarian state as shown in the movie rights and freedoms are constantly violated. There is no freedom of religion, press, expression at all. All people must be “normal”, which means neither immigrants and Muslims, nor homosexuals. People can’t express their opinion publicly, all not censored issued are prohibited in the mass media. Let’s remember the scene in the movie, where a popular TV show suddenly broadcasts the parody on the Chancellor. The comedy show host, Gordon Deitrich, was repressed for that.
Furthermore, unreasonable searches and seizure take place repeatedly. The curfew is established. People don’t have the right to fair trial, while cruel punishments and tortures are usual practice.
V understands how terribly the human rights are violated in the country. He knows the value of each human’s life, of each personality (V for Vendetta, 2006):
Everybody is special. Everybody. Everybody is a hero, a lover, a fool, a villain. Everybody. Everybody has their story to tell.
The main hero point out (V for Vendetta, 2006), “Equality and freedom are not luxuries to lightly cast aside. Without them, order cannot long endure before approaching depths beyond imagining”.
Similar views I have found in the study of James Wilson “Of Man, as a Member of Society” (Course Readings, p. 47):
The natural rights and duties of man belong equally to all. Each forms a part of that great system, whose greatest interest and happiness are intended by all the laws of God and nature. These laws prohibit the wisest and the most powerful from inflicting misery on the meanest and most ignorant; and from depriving them of their rights or just acquisitions. By these laws, rights, natural or acquired, are confirmed, in the same manner, to all; to the weak and artless, their small acquisitions, as well as to the strong and artful, their large ones.
Without doubt, natural rights belong to the person from the birth. These rights are arising from the nature of a person and are strongly connected with a person, thus they are individual rights (e. g. the right to life or the right to human dignity). A person cannot be deprived of these rights as well as restricted within the natural rights. To distinguish these human rights from positive rights created by state and law, they are called natural rights or the fundamental rights and freedoms. Natural rights may be restricted only in case a person violates other person's natural right, and it is called the right to self-defense.
One of the prerequisites of society’s self-organization is a partial restriction of the natural rights of its members for the same natural rights to life, safety and welfare guaranteed to the society as a whole. A list of these restrictions and limits substitutes the so called social contract. The only party to such social contract is the society, and government acts as a tool to implement the contract. This concept plays a crucial role in ensuring democracy in society. Thus, society also has a natural right to be protected from usurpation of power. The most effective mechanism for this protection is the right of the people to withdraw the government In case there is no possibility of withdrawal, people have a legitimate right to revolt and solve the problem by force of arms.
V for vendetta [Motion picture on DVD]. (2006). United States, Germany: Warner Bros. Entertainment.
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