Wednesday, December 27, 2006

V for Vendetta

This is from the original Wachowski brothers script for V for Vendetta. The movie version removed all traces of the anarchy theme from the speech to the citizens of London:
Good evening, London. I thought it was time we had a little talk. Are you sitting comfortably? Good, then I'll begin. Right now, I imagine there are hundreds of soldiers rushing here to kill me because someone does not want us to talk. They are afraid that I am going to say the things that are not supposed to be said. They are afraid that I am going to say the truth.The truth is that there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? If you look about, you witness cruelty, injustice and despotism. But what do you do about it? What can you do? You are but a single individual. How can you possible make any difference? Individuals have no power in this modern world. That is what you've been taught because that is what they need you to believe. But it is not true. This is why they are afraid and the reason that I am here; to remind you that it is individuals who always hold the power. The real power. Individuals like me. And individuals like you. I have come to offer you a deal. If you accept, I will give you a different world. A world without curfews, without soldiers and surveillance systems. A world that is not run by other men but that is run by you. I am offering you a second chance. Four hundred years ago, a great citizen made a most significant contribution to our common culture. It was a contribution forged in secrecy and stealth although it is best remembered in noise and bright light. To commemorate that glorious night at precisely the stroke of midnight, the edifice of their world will erupt with enough sound and fury to shake the earth. All I ask is that you join me at the gates to watch as the past is erased, the pathway cleared so that together we can start toward a new day. But, you ask, who am I to make such promises? A fair question but hardly necessary as you know me already. To know me any more you need only look to a mirror. Truth be told, this wasn't even my idea, was it? If you think back, you'll remember that night, whispering in your lover's arms. I became a part of your plan just as you have now become part of mine. Give me the line of the queen and I'll give you your secret dream. On the twelfth stroke of the fifth day of the eleventh month, I hope we shall all meet again. Until then, I bid you goodnight.

V is an anarchist, make no mistake about it, although the Warner Bros. film does not use that word, for it is forbidden to be used outside the context of association with chaos and disorder. We are all programmed to believe at a very young age, that anarchy is absolute mayhem, that humans are so violent, aggresive, and stupid that we are incapable of ruling ourselves, therefore we have to elect "Rulers", to lord over us, in order to prevent "chaos"... It is all a lie. As the website "a for anarchy" which is dedicated to setting the record straight says:
In V for Vendetta, a masked hero attacks the institutions and leaders of state that rules with fear, torture, incarceration, and propaganda and inspires the masses to rise up and overthrow this morally bankrupt government. But--then what? Was V fighting for a better government? Or NO government? The V for Vendetta movie is based on a graphic novel (book sized comic book) by Alan Moore and David Lloyd (online here). While the movie seems to leave V's politics at "Freedom! Forever!," in the graphic novel V passionately tells us that a free society is one where we don't cede our power to government, where we don't let leaders run our lives. The V movie ads say "People shouldn't be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people." To the V of the graphic novel, government shouldn't just be feared by the people-- it should be ELIMINATED by the people.

Here is the original speech from Alan Moore's graphic novel, note that it is quite different:
Good evening, London. I thought it time we had a little talk. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin...I suppose you're wondering why I've called you here this evening. Well, you see, I'm not entirely satisfied with your performance lately...I'm afraid your work's been slipping and...and well, I'm afraid we've been thinking about letting you go. Oh, I know, I know. You've been with the company a long time now. Almost...let me see. Almost ten thousand years! My word, doesn't time fly? It seems like only yesterday...I remember the day you commenced your employment, swinging down from the trees, fresh-faced and nervous, a bone clasped in your bristling fist..."Where do I start, sir?" You asked, plaintively. I recalled my exact words: "There's a pile of dinosaur eggs over there, youngster," I said, smiling paternally all the while. "Get sucking." Well, we've certainly come a long way since then, haven't we? And yes, yes you're right, in all that time you haven't missed a day. Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Also, please don't think I've forgotten about your outstanding service record, or about all of the invaluable contributions that you've made to the company...Fire, the wheel, agriculture..It's an impressive list, old-timer. A jolly impressive list. Don't get me wrong. But...well, to be frank, we've had our problems too. There's no getting away from it. Do you know what I think alot of it stems from? I'll tell you...It's your basic unwillingness to get on in the company. You don't seem to want to face up to any real responibility. To be your own boss. Lord knows you've been given plenty of opportunities... We've offered you promotion time and time again, and each time you've turned us down. "I couldn't handle the work, Guv'Nor," You wheedled. "I know my place." To be frank, you're not trying are you? You see, you've been standing still for far too long, and its starting to show in your work...And, I might add, in your general standard of behavior. The constant bickering on the factory floor has not escaped my attention...nor the recent bouts of rowdiness in the staff canteen. Then of course there's...Hmm. Well, I didn't really want to have to bring this up, but...Well, you see, I've been hearing some disturbing rumors about your personal life. No, never you mind who told me. No names, no pack drill... I understand you are unable to get on with your spouse. I hear that you argue. I am told that you shout. Violence has been mentioned. I am reliably informed that you always hurt the one you love...the one you shouldn't hurt at all. And what about the children, its always the children who suffer, as you're well aware. Poor little mites. What are they to make of it? What are they to make of all your bullying, your despair, your cowardice and all your fondly nurtured bigotries? Really, its not good enough, is it? And its no good blaming the drop in work standards on and management either...though to be sure, the management is very bad. In fact, let us not mince words...The Management is terrible! We've had a string of embezzelers, frauds, liars, and lunatics making a string of catastrophic decisions. This is plain fact. But who elected them? It was you! You who elected these people! You who gave them the power to make your decisions for you! While I'll admit that anyone can make a mistake once, to go on making the same lethal errors century after century seems to me nothing short of deliberate. You have encouraged these malicious incompetents, who have made your working life a shambles. You have accepted without question their senseless orders. You have allowed them to fill your workspace with dangerous and unproven machines. You could have stopped them. All you had to say was "No." You have no spine. You have no pride. You are no longer an asset to the company. I will, however, be generous. You will be granted two years to show me some improvement in your work. If at the end of that time you are still unwilling to make a go of it...You're fired. That will be all. You may return to your labors.

Despite the removal of all things Anarchy, I still think the film was fantastic, especially for a hollywood film. Finally, here is the V's television address to London from the film (emphasis is mine):
* Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine- the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, whereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone's death or the end of some awful bloody struggle are celebrated with a nice holiday. I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat.

There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, think, and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillence coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well, certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now High Chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent. Last night I sought to end that silence.

Last night I destroyed the Old Bailey, to remind this country of what it has forgotten. More than four hundred years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives. So if you've seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you, then I would suggest you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot.

No comments: