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V for Vendetta

Entry updated 10 July 2018. Tagged: Comics, Film, Publication.

1. UK/US Comic-book series (1982-1989), later collected as the Graphic Novel V for Vendetta (graph 1990), scripted by Alan Moore and mostly illustrated by David Lloyd. This groundbreaking series pitted a Guy Fawkes-mask-wearing anarchist hero (the titular "V") against the fascist regime of a Near-Future Dystopian UK, taking its inspiration from the then-current Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher. The series, set in 1997, premiered in March 1982 in the first issue of the anthology comic Warrior, which published the majority of the story in black and white before itself ceasing publication in February 1985. The title was picked by DC Comics, which republished the previous material in colour beginning in 1988. The final four issues of the ten-issue series contained new material, completing the story. A poorly received film version was released as V for Vendetta (2006) [see below]. In 2008, the Internet-based anarchist group Anonymous began using the Guy Fawkes mask worn by V to represent their own battles against perceived repression. [JP]

2. Film (2006). Warner Bros. Pictures in association with Virtual Studios presents a Silver Pictures production in association with Anarchos Productions Inc. Directed by James McTeigue. Written by Andy (now Lilly) Wachowski and Larry (now Lana) Wachowski, based on the Graphic Novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. Cast includes Stephen Fry, John Hurt, Natalie Portman, Stephen Rea and Hugo Weaving. 132 minutes. Colour.

Ineptly reconceived, politically sanitized, and with notably dreadful central performances, this unhappy adaptation was the last nail in the coffin of Alan Moore's relationship with Hollywood; he had his name removed from this and all subsequent films of his work, assigning his share of the rights to his co-creators. The film had begun promisingly enough with an impressively faithful 1995 draft by the Wachowskis, one of a number of projects for producer Joel Silver in the period that also produced the first drafts of The Matrix (1999). Returning to the project nearly a decade later after the Matrix franchise had run its course, they addressed the unforeseen challenge of a post-9/11 pro-terrorist film by radically reconfiguring the story and characters – notably Portman's Evie, who is effectively promoted to lead, and redrawn as a dynamic and dissident character from the start, though not so much so that her famously petite frame is able to carry through with the original ending (where she took over the identity of the bioengineered Superman V). Some of the power of the source survives despite all, particularly in the handful of sequences which remain broadly faithful to the original, and it is the film rather than the comic which has made Lloyd's Guy Fawkes mask (closely reproduced in the film) an icon of anti-capitalist and free-information protest – though with the often-noted irony that its design is now corporate property licensed by, and coining royalties for, Time Warner. Some shots of V are actually of the original lead James Purefoy, who was replaced by Weaving six weeks into the shoot; the voice, however, is Weaving throughout. The Tie-in novelization is V for Vendetta (2006) by the unrelated author Steve Moore. [NL]

see also: Holocaust.


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