The power of ideas- V for Vendetta
“Everything begins with an idea”- Earl Nightingale
April 12th 1981 the first space shuttle to successfully enter space, August 18th 1920 the 19th Amendment was granted allowing American women the right to vote, March 10th 1876 the first telephone was invented. These events all have one thing in common; they were born from ideas. We live in a world where ideas are inevitable and they have the ability to mold societies for good or bad. As society’s intelligence grows, ideas are becoming more advanced than ever before. But only those who are determined, have faith and drive see their ideas succeed. One person catches onto an idea and before we know it a snowball effect occurs. The person with the idea becomes so powerful with societies foolishness to follow like sheep.
V for Vendetta is a cleverly conducted movie, directed by James McTeigue. In the movie, V is a protagonist character upsetting societies normality to get revenge for what happened to himself and many other so called ‘outcast’ during their time in Larkhill detention camp. V creates many powerful movements over the year from the 5th of November to the following ‘Guy Fawkes’ evening where he blows up the parliament building as his idol Guy Fawkes attempted to do in 1605. The 2005 film effectively shows the power of ideas consistently throughout the entirety of the film. However through the use of Mise-en scene and sound we see in the Domino and Fight scene McTeigue effectively portrayed his intention of showing viewers the power of ideas.
“Were told to remember the idea not the man” Throughout the Domino scene we see V laying out his domino masterpiece forming new layers throughout the entirety of the scene. With the intense non-diegetic orchestral sound enhancing the significance of V’s actions. A visual representation of V’s thoughts helps the viewer see the accumulation of all his ideas fitting into a plan, each domino is seen as a new idea in his overall scheme to blow up the parliament building. It has always been known that a picture speaks a 1000 words and can have many meanings depending on the eyes it’s viewed by. As the first domino is placed an intense orchestral sound representing marching of an army begins to play. This shows that as V’s plan progresses people are beginning to follow his idea. When we think of an army we visualize masses of citizens following the commands and visions of a leader. In V for Vendetta the Domino scene McTeigue cleverly combined the non-diegetic sound of marching and the visual representation of the domino placement to show us the flow on effect of ideas and their ability to get a following from society. The following of a leader with ideas and the power society places in their hands, is a forever recurring event in the world we live within. Martin Luther King is a perfect example of a man whom he of many others had an idea of race equality but had the determination to get his voice heard and created a following of society backing his ideas. This passion to follow his ideas to change society for the good of others not only himself is a similar act in which we see V pursue during the film. Both V and Martin Luther King paid the most costly price in pursuing their idea but their deaths as McTeigue further highlighted shows how powerful an idea can be it can become your life if you truly believe. McTeigue further continued to use Mise-en scene and diegetic sound effectively through flashbacks, flash-forwards and dialogue to enhance and connect the story line during the Domino scene. Images of Larkhill, Evey’s childhood witnessing her ill brother dying with a virus secretly created and tested on V at the detention camp, her mum getting taken away from her, all get pieced together to draw a larger image for the viewer. These flashbacks and forwards as a viewer are so relatable, as humans we continuously fail to live in the present we are either dwelling on the past or thinking about the future. This Mise-en scene feature is cleverly connected with the dialogue of inspector Finch as we constantly narrate our lives in our head. These two techniques further highlight the director’s intention of the power of ideas by showing V’s idea through Finch’s mind and that V intruded and manipulated another human’s thoughts. I as a viewer believe the combination of the two cinematography techniques combined together cleverly in this point in time of the scene to help us piece together the whole idea whilst being portrayed in a way that many human brains operate in society. Lastly during this scene we see an effective use of mise-en scene and diegetic sound, as V flicks over the Dominos a diegetic sound of them falling over sounds like a muted screaming over-populated area. This sound effectively combines with the flashes of the riots and the diegetic sound of the riots themselves. “With so much chaos someone will do something stupid” this quote lead to the series of riots shown in V for Vendetta. The moving factor about this scene is this footage of the riots is real life, this is what actually happened in society and how easily people can turn on one another when they get an idea of right or wrong in their head. As a viewer this was a real wakeup call and made me realize these things don’t just happen in movies and ideas can negatively and positively impact a whole society and that we must think wisely about the ideas we choose to follow. We can see a similar event to these riots happening in society today with the terrorist bombings in England, even though this is not a riot many people are injured and society is turning against each other. This shows we can never hide from such events and we mustn’t be fooled by the bubble of a country and town we live in. Ideas surround us and will always have an impact on our lives whether we like it or not.
Our second scene that links into the idea of the directors intention showing the power of ideas through the cinematography techniques of Mise-en scene and sound is the fight scene, where V solidify his ideas and how important it is to stand up against normality if it’s not what you believe in. “Bring him down” this quote is both a literal and figurative saying in V for Vendetta. This diegetic sound of dialogue “bring him down” complimented by the mise-en scene of the chancellor getting dragged down the stairs, yes he is literally being dragged down the stairs and is now powerless in a physical scenes but hasn’t he also been stripped of his power to control society. This powerlessness is further highlighted as we see empty houses and nobody is watching what the chancellor has to say, they have their own ideas of what they believe in forming. We can see the purpose of this moment of the chancellor’s speech with a flicker through society’s houses, as it is a repetition. We see this exact same idea repeated earlier in the film where society are all watching the chancellor’s speech on tv, only this time no longer were society there. This is relatable in our world today and in history some leaders fall and lose their following of society and therefore their power. Adolf Hitler is a prime example of a leader who fell, when he was the newest idea people rooted and made him a supremacy but his ideas were no longer new and somebody with a newer idea benefitting the a greater majority of the world, took charge and further overpowered him until he lost. People like ‘new’ and always follow new to be up to date and cool, which is why leadership and the power involves continuously surfacing new ideas as McTeigue effectively showed us through mise-en scene and sound in the beginning of the fight scene. “…prosecuted as a terrorist without leniency or exception.” “I give you my most solemn vow that justice will be swift it will be richest and it will be without mercy” this is such an important part of the scene as it shows us the moment society defy the rules set by government to follow something they believe in . Another compelling factor about this segment of the fight scene is that at the end of the dialogue representing diegetic sound we see a powerful moment where the chancellor’s face is revealed from beneath the cloth bag, where he’s about to be shown “no mercy”. This is powerful as unknowingly to the chancellor at the time he was talking about himself and the government. The fault with humanity is we allow power and popularity to ruin our true selves and the idea that made us so powerful is ruined. This is where McTeigue cleverly showed his intention of the power ideas through the two cinematography techniques of diegetic sound and mise-en scene but primarily the character of the chancellor to show viewers the negative side of the power of ideas. Lastly I believe this line “beneath this mask there are ideas and ideas are bulletproof” is the most powerful moment in the whole film and solidifies McTeigue’s intention of showing the power of ideas, straight up. This diegetic sound of dialogue combined with mise-en scene of close up shots of both V and Mr Creedy show the contrast of emotion of those whom hold the power of the idea and those who oppose the idea. We see V confidently deliver this powerful dialogue even though he is injured he holds great confidence in his stance this is an effective moment because as a contrast to this we begin to see fear grow in Mr Creedy through his facials and body language. This highlights the importance of ideas and the control and power it can give you and we see V take over the government the most influential people to how our society operate on a day to daily basis. As a viewer I believe this was an important turning point in the film to show viewers that sometimes the powerful aren’t always benefiting society and it only takes one person to do something for a greater good and gain a following to overall the people currently holding the power.
In conclusion as a viewer I think McTeigue effectively showed the power of ideas throughout the entirety of the film and further highlighting it in the Domino and fight scene. Ideas are powerful but we have to realize that they can both negatively and positively affect society. We mustn’t allow our power to hinder our goals and let us lose way of what we truly believe in. I believe it is important that we don’t get stuck in normality and only hope that somebody in society will defy the normality to improve society for the better if we get to a stage where this is required. We will forever be surrounded by ideas and these ideas mold our future which is why they are so powerful, look at how the idea of phones and computers has altered the world we live in today. And as stated by Earl Nightingale “Everything begins with an idea”