Watched again: V for Vendetta (film version)

A long time ago in a galaxy far away I watched the film adaption of Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta. My memory tells me that I did enjoy it, back then, but that I felt it to be flamboyantly lightweight: all glitz and low on content.

Today, in this galaxy, instead of empty it is eerily current.

On weekend evenings we often watch films or series together. For a long time we watched  a couple of episodes of Dr Who every Friday and Saturday evening. When we ran up against what Netflix Sweden had to offer in that regard we switched back to films. As son gets the final word we have watched some of the Harry Potter and Jurassic Park movies enough times for some of us to get (more than) a bit bored, but we have also watched most of the MCU – Marvel Cinematic Universe – and at times we try to introduce him to various SF classics. He doesn’t always take the bait, but thus evenings of Alien and Aliens, for example. This past Saturday we ended up watching V for Vendetta with him.

While watching it I at times debated the choice. In the deep fall of 2016 V for Vendetta felt like a prophecy come true: the disinformation campaigns, the fabricated fake news; the thinly veiled threats and terror directed at anyone who don’t conform to frankly medieval morals; the construed and staged threats to society, used to whip up fear and hate; the total disrespect for the individual human being. Wasn’t this a bit much for a  13 yo kid? Yet he sat glued to the screen, not even striking up a discussion over bad special effects, plot holes and discrepancies – something he’s otherwise very keen on. His only comment mid-movie was “Trump ought to watch this” (to which I felt a need to answer that “he’d only black-list it”).

Afterwards we talked a bit about what we had just watched – about reigning by terror, about the importance of not allowing people to threaten you into silence, and about the importance to stand up for those who gets silenced and/or threatened, for those who get dehumanised.

He mentioned how this was a more interesting film than the various didactic WWII holocaust stories they have had to watch in school: how the parallels between Nazi Germany and V for Vendetta was glaringly obvious, but that the film made the issues real instead of a staid retelling of some faraway thing that had once happened (and was unlikely to ever happen again, because we all know we’re smarter now… right?).

In short V for Vendetta made it obvious that fear, hate and institutionalised terror is not a thing of the past. It is a real threat, wherever there are humans. And we’re living on the brink of it.

The issues I have with the movie pales in comparison with this. If the film can make people rethink and re-evaluate their roles and responsibilities in regard to society that is a value in itself, regardless of what I personally think of the politics, the methods, or the cheap references (such as to Emma Goldman’s “a revolution without dancing is not at revolution worth having”).

Especially today, with various anti-democratic regimes rising through-out the western world; with the backlash against people who are perceived as “other”; with widespread nostalgia and anti-intellectualism spreading like a cloud out of Mordor anything that highlights empathy and compassion is needed.

It is highly unlikely that V for Vendetta will ever be used as a discussion piece in school. Too many parents would call it out for its violence, all the while their kids are playing Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed, and its anti-authoritarian message while they on a daily basis deride their own elected government.

But if we care about equal rights, if we believe that gender or sexual identity, skin colour or heritage or inheritance should not affect either opportunities afforded or obligations demanded by and of the individual – then V for Vendetta is nothing to be afraid of.

Because at this time, in this galaxy, not running with the fear-mongers is important.

Watch it, if you haven’t done so already.

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Review: V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore & David Lloyd

Long time no write… I actually finished V for Vendetta more than two weeks ago but life have been hectic so…

Reading this back to back with The Incal was very interesting. They both have a totalitarian state as setting for their stories, and they are both attempts at the graphic novel format. Similarities end there, though.

Where The Incal is flamboyantly coloured and drawn V for Vendetta is clearly born from the super hero graphic style – sparse, lots of contrast, not much colour at all. Where the story of The Incal is New Ageish mumbojumbo V for Vendetta is, while hard, cold and dystopic much more rooted in a rationalist tradition.

Both are interesting reads but V for Vendetta is though-provoking and perhaps a bit disturbing in how people are portrayed as victims and opportunists while The Incal, despite the dystopian setting, is a sparkling firework – dazzling as long as it lasts but fast forgotten.

V for Vendetta shows how people’s need to survive works to suborn us into accepting conditions and actions we would not have thought ourselves capable to, had we lived in better times. Historical evidence shows that the picture painted by the story isn’t that far off a very well beaten track indeed and that makes the story worth reflecting over.

What I feel most ambivalent about is the politics of the book. Anarchy is, to me, not about taking your faith in your own hands or about having a say in how the world is ruled. As a young one I flirted with that -ism and both my readings and my practical experiences from how an anarchist movement work show that at heart it is libertarian, without regard to those who cannot, for different reasons, speak for themselves. As such is it’s not a democratic movement, in my not so humble opinion – it only masks itself as one.

The way the story is told it is not clear which way the authors lean in these matters – a bit pro, a bit con, more interested in telling a tale than in promoting ideology, perhaps, and only using this particular -ism to provoke thoughts in the reader? This ambivalence is part of what makes the story such a good one.

A must-read.

Review: The Incal (omnibus), by Moebius & Jodorowsky

Back when time began I loved reading comics. Especially Tintin and Asterix but it didn’t much matter what it was – I read it. And at one point someone decided to run Blueberry in the Phantom comic magazine. This was how I discovered Giraud, and later on his alter ego Moebius.

Back then Moebius was, perhaps, a bit too much for me. I don’t know. Anyway, I just passed him by (I own some of his albums, but…), in favour of Enki Bilal and Hugo Pratt (Corto Maltese).

So, about a year ago I started eyeing the omnibus edition of The Incal. It was not inexpensive so I closed my eyes and stayed away from it. Then, last fall, I caught sight of it on a shelf at the local library. I was on my way out so I let it sit, but ever since I’ve kept an eye out for it. And at last it was back on its shelf.
Of course I grabbed it.

I was not rewarded.

Back in the days what attracted me was the colourful graphics. And I still enjoy the drawings and the compositions. But the story is pure mumbo-jumbo. A unimpressive mish-mash of various new age semi-religions that in combination with zero character development and character believability leaves the visual imagery the only interesting aspect of the story.

Not an aspect to ignore, especially since it IS a graphic novel – but I for one was happy that it was a library loan because I would not want to waste prime shelf real estate on this rather hefty tome.

Not quite a review: Seeking North, shared universe stories by Lynn Abbey, Jane Fancher and C.J. Cherryh

At the turn of the year the Closed Circle group started publishing stories within their shared Seeking North universe. It was my definite intention to read them, but, well, somehow it never happened. And then when I finally made it to the Seeking North web site even my jaded self was considerably confused by the site design – what went were, and why, and… freaking nuts, where the **** could I find the STORY?!?!

Eventually, about two minutes later, I found it. And, eventually, too, because life conspired otherwise, I took the text and made it into an .epub file, so I could read it on my phone.

It’s too early in the story process to know exactly where this is heading but so far so good, is my verdict.

On a planet far far away there is a human colony, lost, sort of, and suffering from a planet-spanning EMP shock which took out all electronics, everywhere. The tech present seems more borrowed/inherited than anything else, and the main mode of transport is wagons hauled by mules.

One story, Lynn Abbey’s, features a group of people living in such a wagon, going from place to place; itinerants, earning some money here and there on temporary jobs.

Another, C.J. Cherryh’s, is, this far, about a scavenger who searches the more desolate spots for metals that can be gathered and sold.

The third, Jane Fancher’s, centres on some street kids and the economy of horses and mules.

Lynn’s story got me drawn in. She mainly writes fantasy, normally, and I’ve never read any of her other stories (I’m no fantasy buff), but I found I enjoyed the short story format. A contained voice, holding the story like a crystal ball, turning it this way and that, exploring. I definitely want to know what will happen.

C.J.’s story, now, felt wholly different, yet with deep roots in the same soil. The language conjuring images, scenes, the vastness and desolation… and a hint of the unknown. I know she’s busy doing other things as well but I definitely hope she can spare some energy for this one because I’m curious where this will lead.

Jane’s story, then, because that’s the order that I’ve read them in. Different pace, different altogether, in respect to what Lynn and C.J. has written in this universe. Not my favourite part but good nevertheless and I’ll gladly read on, to see what will happen.

Go read it. And then support living breathing authors by using the Donate button they provide.
Because they have bills to pay, too.