V for Vendetta is a film directed by James McTeigue, based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore, which depicts a dystopian future set in the United Kingdom. Several dystopian motifs are touched upon in this film, including totalitarianism, fascism, false flags, secret police, and the torture and execution of those who defy the ruling Norsefire Party. Unlike dystopias in many other medias, at the end of the film, the regime is ultimately defeated, as Parliament explodes amidst a series of fireworks. Although this action did not completely destroy The Norsefire Party, it acted as a catalyst, the aftermath of which eradicated the people’s fear of the government, therefore rendering the Party helpless to the people it once terrorized.
The mise-en-scene of this film is effective in portraying a dystopia, with much of the color being washed out and costumes being very dark, aside from the blatant color red, which appears vibrant throughout. The color red is used by both The Norsefire Party, in their flag, and by the main character, V, in his signature symbol. Many times when The Norsefire Party is shown, the scene emphasizes the color red, which is usually surrounding them in some way. The color red is used to represent the blood the Party has spilled throughout their rise to power, and their rule. V, the hero or anti-hero, also uses the color red in his mark, symbolizing the return of control and freedom back to the people, and reminding them that he will avenge those who died at the hands of The Norsefire Party.
The Norsefire Party’s slogan throughout the film is, “Strength Through Unity, Unity Through Faith,” and is reminiscent of the 1984 slogan, “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength." The slogan is pivotal to the film, as it lays the groundwork for V’s own agenda, which eventually brings about the Party’s demise. Evey’s strength stems from her being a part of V’s rebellion and her willingness to die for its cause, even though V had her captured by the Party and tortured in the first place (Strength Through Unity.) Her dedication to V’s rebellion is derived from her undying faith in V, and his plan for freedom (Unity Through Faith.) One could argue V’s rebellion is a micro-dystopia of its own, thus making him an anti-hero.
The Norsefire Party gained a stronghold in England when a debilitating virus, St. Mary’s Virus, was exposed to a mass amount of people during a false flag terrorist attack, all of which were orchestrated by the Party. This confluence of events allowed The Norsefire Party to exploit the people’s fears, and gain complete and total control of the country. In almost all of dystopian media, we see the use of fear as a means of control, and this film is no exception. The Party employs secret police, and forces those who are not white, Christian, and straight, along with those who oppose the Party, into concentration camps where many are tortured and murdered. The clear inspirations for these agencies and events were The Holocaust, The Third Reich, and The KGB.
By the film’s end, Parliament is destroyed, and the people no longer fear The Norsefire Party. The most interesting and twisted event is when Inspector Finch asks Evey who V really was. She responds by saying, “He was all of us.” While at surface level, it seems as though she means V stood for all of the disenfranchised people of England, in actuality it shows how V’s rebellion, however good the intentions were, could be considered totalitarian in its own right.