V For Vendetta – Complete Notes

The opening
1. The opening shows the preparation of Evey and V mirrored. Each is shown from the same camera angles doing the same things.
2. When Prothero stresses “judgment” in his TV rant, it coincides with V adding the knives to his costume.

The attempted rape
3. V is introduced with Shakespearian monologue.
4. Music swells to a climax through this monologue, creating tension that is punctured when Evey asks, “Are you, like, a crazy person?”

The destruction of the Old Bailey
5. Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture is apt for destruction of the Old Bailey because of its use of cannons.

The start of the investigation/ cover-up
6. Chancellor Sutler is shown in extreme close-up on the big screen to emphasise his power. This contrasts sharply with the wide-shots of his men who are made to look smaller and less powerful.
7. “England Prevails” is a salute that has echoes of “Heil Hitler”. (Finch is reluctant to say it out loud.)

The attack on the BTN Tower
8. During V’s address to London, we are shown a cross-section of society. (Working class family/ Middle class family/ A pub/ A Norsefire Party club.)
9. The close-up on V mirrors the shot of the Chancellor – giving V equal power.
10. The people, and Evey and Finch, are motionless while the government’s people are frantically moving. V’s message (a criticism of the fascist regime) is being heard.
11. In the battle at BTN tower, drums are used to intensify the violence.

The Shadow Gallery
12. When Evey awakes in the Shadow Gallery, the lights are much softer and the music (Billie Holliday) is very calm. Another contrast between V’s world and the government’s world.
13. “If they find this place… will be the least of my worries.” Later to be echoed by Dietrich – they both have a second life to hide. Their thefts from the government are not their main “crimes”.

The Scarlet Carson
14. The recurring motif of the Scarlet Carson Rose. This links V’s drive for revenge to the story of Valerie, whose death he is trying to avenge. The rose had connotations of romance for Valerie, but of death to V. The bright red stands out, like a rebellion, against the drab, grey London setting.

15. Recurring phrase, “There are no such things as coincidences.” Spoken by several characters. Reinforces the idea that EVERYTHING is linked.

Evey’s Family/ Back-story
16. Evey’s family story is presented as a montage of footage – some real, some produced. The real footage adds authenticity to the story. When her mother is “black-bagged” the camera angles are identical to when Dietrich is taken later. The second time she has learned her lesson and does not cry out. The narrow camera angle emphasises the small hiding place under the bed.
Dietrich’s Secret
17. Dietrich’s homosexuality is shown through an obscured camera angle, giving the impression that Evey has to look around him to see it: as though he is hiding it; a metaphor for his secret life.

18. “If you wear a mask for so long you forget who is really beneath it.” – Spoken by Dietrich but could also be applied to V.

Surridge, the Coroner
19. Use of montage to show the back-story of Surridge’s time at Larkhill. First glimpse of Valerie. Shows that Surridge felt she was doing good work.

The Satire
20. In the spoof show, V is unmasked to reveal Chancellor Sutler. This is a symbolic show that the real source of terror is the Chancellor, not V. The music played is quick and comedic to heighten the tone.

21. All of London see the broadcast, as shown by the four different watching groups.

Evey’s Interrogation/ Valerie’s Story
22. During the interrogation, Evey is shown in hard, bright light to emphasise her vulnerability. Her interrogator is in silhouette the stress his anonymity. The audio of Evey’s breathing is prominent to show her fear.

23. Valerie’s story is told in montage and voice-over. This makes the story intimate/ personal while also showing that Valerie is not present/ alive.

24. “An inch” – Valerie describes her integrity as this – “It is small but it is the only thing worth having”. She is referring the ideas and beliefs a person holds most valuable.

25. Evey is “reborn” in the rain, which has a symmetry with V’s own rebirth in the fire at Larkhill. “God is in the rain” (Valerie) is spoken as the rain falls on her, suggesting she is absorbing God’s power/ grace. Both V and Evey extend their arms into a crucifiction pose, further linking them to the resurrection of Christ – linking them with goodness.

Sutler’s Response to V
26. Last conference with Sutler – volume of speech increases and becomes almost hysterical. Cue a series of increasingly alarmist news stories. Cuts across the four population groups – all have stopped believing the state-run media.

Rookwood’s Story
27. During “Rookwood”’s monologue we see another montage of the key events, this time with a narrative that links the story and characters together. This is the denouement of the Norsefire/ St Mary’s story. As the scene progresses, drums are brought into the music to represent the military rise to power of Sutler.

Finch’s Epiphany
28. After Finch goes to Larkhill – “I had a feeling that everything was connected… a perfect pattern… we were all a part of it.” Reinforces the film’s idea that there are no coincidences – only the appearance of coincidence.

V’s Dominoes
29. The dominoes represent the population of England, and when they fall we can see it as the way the population is turning against their government, one by one, until only one remains. This final domino could be seen either as V (the last man standing) or Sutler (the last man to overcome). As the dominoes fall the footage is cross-cut with scenes of rebellion and this reinforces the idea of revolution.

Sutler’s End
30. When Sutler makes his final address to the nation, we are cross-cut with images of the country that show that nobody is listening to him any more. When he concludes that “justice will be swift, it will be righteous and it shall be without mercy” it cuts immediately to Sutler in the underground, panicking in front of V. The effect is that Sutler himself will receive “justice… without mercy” from V. At this point we see Sutler in the flesh for the first time; without the screen to hide behind he is small, powerless and cowardly.

Destruction of Parliament
31. The destruction of Parliament is the climax and finale of the film. It is an extended CGI sequence that shows the building destroyed step-by-step. It is the fulfilment of V’s dream, and the release of the people from Norsefire’s tyranny.

The Unmasking
32. Thousands of people wearing V’s mask stream into Parliament Square. They are no longer afraid. By showing this from a long-shot above, we are able to see the vastness of the numbers as they move. When the people remove their masks (even the dead characters) we can see that they are not afraid and literally no longer have to hide behind a mask. They are free to be themselves. The dictatorship is over.

Re: the dead characters. We are shown that they have contributed to the fall of the government, and that their sacrifice is remembered. ALL the people have helped.

Albert Camus – “What is a rebel? A man who says no.”

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