V for Vendetta – 2011
by Jim Quinn
After the horrific mass murder in Tucson yesterday I had trouble sleeping last night. When my mind gets overloaded, I can’t sleep. I came downstairs at 3:30 am and for some reason decided now was the time to watch the movie V For Vendetta. Many people had recommended this movie over the years, but I had never gotten around to it. Well, on the day after the attempted assassination of a Congresswoman and murder of six others, including a Federal Judge, this movie provided a vision into what could happen next in this country.
The 2006 movie centers around a man wearing a Guy Fawkes mask who refers to himself as V. He is a bold, charismatic freedom fighter driven to exact revenge on those who disfigured him. The film is an allegory of oppression and coercion by government. It is a declaration against government intervention into the lives of the citizens. He blows up the Old Bailey on November 5, Guy Fawkes Day. He promises to blow up Parliament one year later on the 5th of November. His speech at the beginning of the movie, broadcast to all of England, explains what happened in a fictional England and what is happening here:
“Good evening, London.
Allow me first to apologize, for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of everyday routine, the security, the familiar, the tranquility, 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 certainly 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 think that even now orders are been shouted into telephones and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because when the truncheon maybe used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who would listen, the enunciation of the 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, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission? How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those who are 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 problems that 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 Suttler. 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 400 years ago, a great citizen wished to embed the 5th 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 5th 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 5th of November that shall never, ever, be forgot.”
The movie’s central theme revolves around the 1605 Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament. The plot was a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby. The plan was to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament on November 5, 1605, as the prelude to a popular revolt in the Midlands during which James’s nine-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth, was to be installed as the Catholic head of state.