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Orwell’s 1984 Vs. V For Vendetta

V For Vendetta is a film that shares a number of themes present in George Orwell’s book 1984. The reason that they share such common themes is that Orwell’s book created a unique world that was open for much interpretation and many authors and filmmakers would revisited Orwell’s world and themes and put their own unique spin on the subject. SUMMARY OF V FOR VENDETTA: In the near future, a totalitarian regime has taken control of Great Britain and the regime has instituted a police state designed more to protect the government than the population.

A young woman named Evey is nearly raped by government officials when she is wandering the streets after curfew, but she is saved by V, a disfigured man who hides his scarred visage behind a Guy Fawkes mask. (Guy Fawkes was a folk hero who was executed for planning to blow up Parliament in the 1600’s the same plan V has ) Eventually, Evey becomes his protege in his plan, but, of course, the government becomes suspicious….

Orwell’s 1984 spends a significant portion of its novel condemning totalitarianism as the threat of the expansion of totalitarianism from the Soviet Union and into the Western Europe and the United States was a very real threat and the basis for the long standing Cold War that engulfed much of the 20th Century as, of course, history has shown. The concept of “Big Brother” truly did exist in the Soviet Union in 1948 when Orwell wrote his novel so Orwell’s vision simply exaggerated what was already in existence.

The frightening world of Oceania was something that was easily possible and the warnings of what a government can do when it becomes out of control would go on to become a convention in science fiction literature for generations. V For Vendetta “borrows” this world of Oceania and scenario of totalitarianism from 1984, but does so in order to tell a more action- adventure driven storyline designed to condemn the current policies of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq.

The constant use of “terrorist” in the film is so blatant in its connection to the current War On Terror and lacking in subtlety, however, that it loses much of its impact. In Oceania and Orwell’s 1984, much is left for interpretation as opposed to blatant use of “buzz words” such as communism, Stalinism, etc. V For Vendetta, the film, attacks totalitarianism and suggests that it is replaced with a more liberal society.

The underlying theme of the film is that the totalitarianism of the Great Britain of the future must be replaced by freedom (nee liberal democracy), however, Orwell’s world also stresses such themes of freedom by showing the fact that there will always be a struggle present among those who wish to be free and a government that wants to suppress them. In both the film V For Vendetta and the novel 1984, we see characters willing to take enormous risks in order to remain sovereign and free despite the overwhelming odds that the government will crush any attempts at rebellion they may face.

In a way, both films stress the importance of dying while trying to be a free person rather than living in a society that seeks to subjugate them. The key tenant of a totalitarian regime is that the central authority of the world comes from the state and not from the individuals who make up the state. This is clear in the writings of Lenin in Lenin’s oft-repeated statement (most famously repeated by Ronald Reagan in his 1981 speech to Evangelicals) that moral authority should never come from a “supernatural being.

” That is, all moral authority must come from the state, as any means necessary must be used by the state in order to make the state survive. Stalin would typify this attitude in his brutal rule of the Soviet Union, a totalitarian attitude almost universally condemned by Marxist’s such as Orwell. Simply making a film around a certain theme does not make a film a quality film, regardless of the nobility of the theme. Those who read Alan Moore’s brilliant graphic novel that this film is based upon will general feel somewhat uneasy about heaping praise on the cinematic adaptation.

First, the film is a very trite rendition of the anti-totalitarian regimes viewed in Orwell’s novel and Moore’s comic series. The bulk of V for Vendetta’s running time is spent criticizing President Bush’s anti-terrorism policies and, in particular, the rhetoric used to rally public support for the controversial patriot act. While there is plenty to criticize the administration for regarding the legality of the patriot act, it is a huge stretch to try and equate current policies with the totalitarian regime depicted in the film.

There are totalitarian regimes in the world today, but they aren’t found in the United States or Western Europe as depicted in the film. Perhaps even claiming that the producers are criticizing current American and European policies is a stretch. To a certain degree, the criticism may even be endemic of lazy filmmaking that “borrows” political ideologies and represents them on film, as opposed to coming up with a unique or fresh criticism. This is not to say that the film version of V For Vendetta is not entertaining. It is a well-made film that, at times, is inspired and thought provoking.

However, it falls short of its goals of being provocative when it “airlifts” most of its depth from Orwell’s 1984 while trying to present a feel good, Hollywood style happy ending at the film’s conclusion. In that regard, V For Vendetta ultimately falls short of its own self-proclaimed lofty goals.

Works Cited

McTique, James. V For Vendetta. Warner Motion Pictures: 2006. Moore, Alan. V For Vendetta. New York: Vertigo, 2005. Orwell, George. 1984. New York: Plume/Penguin, 2003. Reagan, Ronald. Great Speeches Vol. 1. Jerden Records: 1995

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