In the well-known dystopian film, “V for Vendetta”, directed by James McTeigue there are two scenes, the domino scene and the fight scene which show the control the government has over the society and how an idea can break this oppression. This film is set in future London where the society is being run, powered and controlled by the police force and the fascist government, stripping the citizens of their freedom and basic human rights. V, on the other hand, is a masked man who rebels against the government’s restrictions to teach society that they can move away from the brutality and have their basic rights back once again. The director’s intention is to make the viewers think about how if you have an idea and follow through with it, then you can make a difference to better the lives of others. Both the domino and fight scene have film techniques which help the viewers understand the director’s intention. In the domino scene, McTeigue included symbols to portray his deeper meaning message. During the fight scene editing made the viewers think about how masked V controlled the society and worked on bettering society which demonstrates what could happen if the government took full control.

V is a vigilante who is recognised by his Guy Fawkes mask and the violent tasks he undertakes. The domino scene has intense symbolism, especially the continued use of the letter “V”. The use of V is a recurring symbol and is a meaningful letter of the anti-hero, V, as well as it is the roman numeral 5. 5 is the number of the room where he was imprisoned when he was forced to undertake medical experiments. This leads him to dislike the government and calling himself “V” as in a vendetta against the government. He begins to develop and carry out with the plan to get back at the fascist state for mistreating him and many of thousands of others, who don’t have the vigour and courage to stand up for themselves. During the domino scene, there are a variety of overhead shots and close-ups which show V setting up the dominoes in a circle. The red and black dominoes are laid in a way that they form a “V” shape. The placement of each domino represents V’s plan and how it all comes together to create something great that we are all part of like each domino is part of the final pattern and the ultimate plan. This something great is the end to the oppression the government has applied over the past few years. The “V” symbol that V uses throughout the film is the reflection of the upside down anarchy symbol and relates to the director’s intention as anarchy means, “state of disorder due to absence or non-recognition of authority or other controlling systems.” McTeigue uses this as a foreshadowing technique that the government may fall apart and the society will fall back to anarchy roots. When V pushes one domino via a close-up shot, we realise that V has only done one small thing in society, but the actions he took created a ripple which has affected more than one person. The society begins to fall apart due to V’s actions such as the bombing of the Old Bailey at midnight on the 5th of November and his mask which people begin to wear to show they value his courage. We see a montage of shots: fights, killings, burnings and a young girl spray painting the letter “V” onto a wall while the voiceover of Eric Finch says, “But when I was there [the prison where V was kept] it was strange. I suddenly had this feeling that everything was connected. It’s like I could see the whole thing, one long chain of events that stretched all the way back before Larkhill. I felt like I could see everything that happened, and everything that is going to happen. It was like a perfect pattern, laid out in front of me. And I realised we’re all part of it, and all trapped by it.” There is then a short montage of the letter V, a girl paints a red “V” onto a poster which says “through unity, through faith,” which is ironic, a room number which has the numeral V, it then flicks to fireworks and sparks which form a V shape and then pans to the dominos which have very carefully been laid out. The camera focus then moves to an extreme close up shot of V’s gloved hand stacking the dominoes and we realise each little thing that has happened is the long chain of events and it is all a matter of knowing the first domino over, and the world or pattern falls apart. Finch then said “With so much chaos, someone will do something stupid. And when they do, things will turn nasty. And then Sutler will be forced to do the only thing he knows how to do. At which point, all V needs to do is keep his word. And then…” There is then a montage of police street fights then the view flicks back to the dominoes falling down, explosions on the street, people going wild as the society falls apart and the police-run government has visibly lost all control and anarchy has taken over. We see an overhead shot of the dominoes falling down, revealing the carefully designed red and black V shape vanishing into a mess of tiles. The dominoes finish crumbling and there is one left standing where the two sides meet, V walks over and pulls it out, which we see through an extreme close up shot. He takes a close look at it and the viewers get the impression that V knows that his plan has fallen into place and his work is done. An example of the controlling government similar to V for Vendetta is Nazi Germany during the time of Adolf Hitler. Hitler ruled his country un a way that people were stripped of their rights, the society broke apart and the people became scared due to the consequences of breaking the “rules” or laws and what could happen to them. This is also what happened in V for Vendetta as the Chancellor took control and the people become afraid of the way they could be executed or sent to camps like V did. V, on the other hand, believes that this is wrong and he ensures that the oppression does not continue for others in the future.

During the fight scene, the director uses editing and camera speed to highlight that an idea can change the society. There are many shots of V fighting with his swords. The director used the film techniques of camera speed to slow down the movement of the sword blades. By doing this, the viewers are able to appreciate the violence, pain and strength V has to ensure this plan to better society works and destroys the government after they subjugated him during his time violated in the detention centre. During the start of the scene, we see V standing with government officials forming a semi-circle around him. There is then a close-up shot of Creedy, whose main goal is to have full control, who verbalises his anger “Whatchya gonna do, huh? We’ve swept this place. You’ve got nothing. Nothing but your bloody knives and your fancy karate gimmicks. We have guns.” As viewers we think that guns are not needed, all that someone needs is a plan. A plan that is well executed can end a life, can end a society and right the things that have been done wrong. This is then proved when the fingermen open fire on V and the bullets have all been used up. There is a long shot of V with the bullets tearing holes in his body. Any normal person would have been well dead, but V rises and we see him pull his swords out and the camera speed slows down. We see V throw the swords at the men, turning over slowly in the air, while strong metallic diegetic sounds can be vaguely heard in the background and the grunt when the men die. The slow-motion amplifies the satisfaction and ease V has of killing people who have wounded and damaged him. The way the scene has been filmed and edited does not make the viewers feel disgusted, like in normal fighting movies, but we realise that the people who have been controlling and oppressing the society are now dead. There will either be chaos or people will result to full or brutal anarchy. The society will fall together and a new and better leader may take over and people will regain their basic human rights. Once all the fingermen have been killed, Mr Creedy appears shocked via a close-up shot through the end of the gun barrel, he walks towards V shooting his gun and yells, “why won’t you die?” V then replies “Beneath this mask, there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask, there is an idea, Mr Creedy. And ideas are bulletproof.” and the viewers realise that guns and violence are not needed to kill and do not solve the issue, but however if a thought or an idea is strong enough then it can change the world.

In conclusion, the use of symbolism in the domino scene and the editing in the fight scene in V for Vendetta directed by James McTeigue, show the directors intention that V represented everybody in the society and how if the government is oppressing and an idea is created then it can change the society from a fascist state to freedom through anarchy. V said “They put you in a cell and took everything they could take except your life. And you believed that was all there was, didn’t you? The only thing you had left was your life, but it wasn’t, was it? You found something else. In that cell, you found something that mattered more to you than life. It was when they threatened to kill you unless you gave them what they wanted… you told them you’d rather die.” V would not let the government oppress him any longer and he rebelled against them as an anti-hero. He may have done bad things but in the end, he saved the society and took back what they stole from him, as well as teaching everyone a lesson that complete control is dangerous and will end up falling apart if someone has an idea to rebel.

Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. You need to go in to detail about the director’s intention. Also ensure you use specific terminology whe discussing cinematography techniques.

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  2. You have a lot of work to do to add detail and then edit everything together in to a structured visual analysis, Bella.

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  3. Check the meaning of montage, and how you have used it

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