I have been watching one of my absolute favourite movies on television this evening. The dystopian ‘V For Vendetta’, starring Hugo Weaving behind the iconic mask, Stephen Rea as the hapless cop on his tail; the Late, and very Great, John Hurt as the epitome of evil in Chancellor Sutler; and Natalie Portman, whose performance as the vulnerable heroine I thought was absolutely magnificent. A truly amazing cast, an amazing film, all guided brilliantly under the direction of James McTeigue.
It is perhaps, unsurprising, that a fiercely political creature like myself would be moved very deeply by this movie, just as I am by ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, (which also starred John Hurt), and others of similar genre. And yet tonight, more so than at any time I can recall, I found ‘V For Vendetta’ a truly, truly frightening film.
I write extensively about politics on other pages, but my thoughts here are concerned with the age-old question of whether the arts exist to reflect, and commentate on the events of the world; or whether they are a force to change them. A hundred years ago, Bertolt Brecht was so moved by the sight of young men slaughtered and horribly maimed in the Great War trenches that he and others ultimately gave birth to ‘Epic Theatre’, which did not just entertain his audiences, but challenged them to actually think about what was happening in the world around them; to leave the theatre asking more questions than they came in with; and above all, be inspired to do something about it. His warnings went down with the Weimar Republic, and he ultimately fled his German homeland when the Nazis came to power. But Epic Theatre lives on, and as I watch the world events unfolding around me now, I believe it is more important than ever that the arts do not simply hold up a picture of the world, but that they hold up a mirror to humanity and say: “Look at what you have become, think about what you might become,” and above all, “think of what you could be.”
Because as Evey says at the end of the movie: “This country needs more than a building right now. It needs hope.”
All quotes are taken from the Movie: V For Vendetta, (2005).
Director: James McTeigue.
Distributed by: Warner Brothers Pictures.