On Nov. 5, 2012, Guy Fawkes Day, Truth and Shadows published an article by Barrie Zwicker about Fawkes and the Gunpowder Treason and its relation to false flag events throughout history. That article mentioned the film V for Vendetta and the proliferation of the famous Guy Fawkes mask that followed the success of the movie. Zwicker’s piece quoted an earlier one by Veterans Today’s Kevin Barrett, which sang the praises of the film. I appreciate both of these excellent articles, but I have a somewhat different take on the film as this article explains.– CM
November 5, 2015
By Craig McKee
It is crafted to be one of the most satisfying moments in all of film history.
In the climax of the Wachowski sibling’s V for Vendetta (spoiler alert), an underground train filled with explosives is detonated as the train passes beneath the British Parliament buildings. The buildings are blown to bits to the tune of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture while thousands in Guy Fawkes masks look on in awe. Fireworks add to the celebration and to the theatricality of the event.
The crowd removes their masks to reveal they are just ordinary people (even those who were killed during the story reappear). The population is apparently freed from the iron-fisted rule of a Nazi-like regime. Comic book villains get their just desserts, and a new world is born.
The film, based on a graphic novel of the same name, has been branded as revolutionary by some. And to be sure, it does some very remarkable things rarely seen in Hollywood films. Most notably it lays out the idea clearly that a tyrannical government might actually carry out terrorist attacks against its own people and blame those attacks on religious or other extremists, and its overt references to 9/11 and other false flags are unmistakable. One government official offers this possibility concerning the attack against Parliament that the so-called “terrorist” has promised to carry out: “The red report in front of you has been vetted by several demolition specialists. It concludes that the most logical delivery system for the terrorist to use would be an airborne attack.” Sound familiar?
It’s interesting that this film, which depicts an underground train being used in a “terrorist” attack, was completed just one month before the 7/7 London Underground bombings of 2005. Not only does this film appear to anticipate 7/7, but the Wachowski’s 1999 film, The Matrix, seems to have anticipated 9/11. In that film, when Neo (Keanu Reeves) is being questioned by police, we see that the expiry date on his driver’s licence is Sept. 11, 2001. Later, after he has swallowed the red pill, we see what appear to be the twin towers in ruins. This is just one of many films that appear to feature foreknowledge of the event.
So does V for Vendetta stand alone in recent film history as a truly revolutionary statement—one that slipped past Hollywood’s ideological sentinels? Does it truly advocate a revolt against the kind of shadowy tyranny we live with today? Or is it a cynical manipulation of its audience, a neat little bit of misdirection that ends up reinforcing the “terrorist vs. freedom fighter” paradigm?
The debate over whether the film’s hero/anti-hero is a terrorist or a freedom fighter takes for granted that the government and the country are being threatened by an outside element—and by outside I don’t mean outside the country, I mean outside the power structure. The focus is on whether V’s use of violence (“Sometimes violence can be used for good,” he says) is justified or not. One who believes in the official story of 9/11 might wonder whether the alleged use of violence by Muslim terrorists was justified. But those who have examined the evidence know that this is the wrong question.
The setting of this reworking of the “Phantom of the Opera” story is a fascist Britain in the near future, 14 years after a deadly virus has claimed the lives of almost 100,000 people (perhaps it’s appropriate that this article is being published 14 years after 9/11). At the outset, the film’s heroine, Evey (Natalie Portman), is saved from some corrupt officials and would-be rapists in a dark alley by a mysterious masked stranger named V (Hugo Weaving).
He invites her to a rooftop to watch a midnight spectacle that he has orchestrated—the explosive destruction of the Old Bailey Court House with full symphonic accompaniment. The explosions begin just as the calendar turns to Nov. 5, Guy Fawkes Day. (“Remember, remember the 5th of November, the gunpowder treason and plot. I see no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.”)
The government spins the event as an “emergency demolition”—a nice bit of irony in light of the 9/11 demolition that the U.S. government isn’t taking credit for. The TV network where Evey works facilitates the deception by putting talking-head experts on the air to explain the reasons for the demolition, which they claim “had been planned for some time.”
Evey repays V for his earlier rescue by helping him escape after he has taken over the network to make an unauthorized broadcast taking credit for the destruction of the Old Bailey. We learn that V—who was the victim of biological experimentation that led to the development of the deadly virus deliberately released by the government to solidify its stranglehold on power—is bent on revenge against those who wronged him and wants nothing less than the destruction of the regime led by the Hitlerian High Chancellor, Adam Sutler (John Hurt). V’s plan one year hence is to destroy the Parliament buildings some 400 years after Fawkes is alleged to have attempted the same thing.
A celluloid ending
V for Vendetta is a film that is very aware of its own existence, with more than a mischievous hint of self-parody. At one point, Evey is talking to V in his underground hideaway about his favorite film, The Count of Monte Cristo. She asks whether the film has a happy ending to which he replies, with a handy bit of foreshadowing, “As only celluloid can deliver.”
The ending of V for Vendetta is exhilarating spectacle at its grandest, the antithesis of the horrifying destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11. The masked crowd at the end of Vendetta watches the show, looking just like an audience in a movie theatre. The imagery is not accidental. In fact, a major motif in the film encompasses that of theatricality, performance, illusion, and deception, the most obvious symbol of which is V’s own mask, which hides his face, his past, and his pain.
When V rescues Evey at the beginning of the film, he calls himself a “humble Vaudevillian veteran cast vicariously as both victim and villain.” When she thanks him, he says, “I merely played my part.” He treats her to a performance that features music and theatrical destruction. He quotes Macbeth, and Evey replies, “My Mom always read his plays to me, and ever since I’ve always wanted to act in plays, movies.” Later, he enlists her help: “I’m in need of someone with theatrical skills.” And finally, Evey is imprisoned for several weeks, she thinks by the government, but it turns out that the prison is another illusion and really a part of V’s underground complex.
All of these references to theater make perfect sense in a story that offers fascist ceremony and the illusion created by false flag attacks. Unfortunately, the idea that 9/11 and other supposed terrorist attacks are in fact deceptions perpetrated by the power elite, is undercut, and the public is insulated from the reality of the government atrocities in the film by its comic book theatricality. The villains are supremely evil, straight from the fascism of World War 2 and Orwell’s 1984. This reinforces the common Hollywood notion that if you just get rid of the obviously evil people in any system, you’ll solve all your problems.
(An interesting side note: The Guy Fawkes mask used by V has become a cultural icon, used in demonstrations and protests around the world. The irony is that each time one of the masks is sold, Time Warner receives a royalty.)
In the opening images of the film we cut back and forth between V and Evey as both dress in black in front a mirror while a far-right news commentator named Lewis Prothero rants about “Muslims, homosexuals, and terrorists.” As Evey and V leave their homes to walk through the streets we see close-ups of their feet as they seem to be walking towards each other. This is reminiscent of the opening shots in Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (One of the characters in Hitchcock’s thriller is even named “Guy”). The theme of mirror images comes up throughout that film just as it does in Vendetta. In a later scene, distraught after Evey has left him alone his hideaway, V throws his mask at a mirror, smashing it. In fact, V and Evey (her name suggests that she is the female equivalent of her masked savior) are shown as mirror images of each other in several ways, which culminates with her taking over V’s role in remaking the world at the end.
On the surface, V for Vendetta is about a masked freedom fighter who carries out revenge on those who victimized him years before while at the same time he works to liberate the country from totalitarian rule. The film seems to be suggesting that supposed “terrorist attacks” like 9/11 and 7/7 might be false flag operations just as is the release of a deadly virus in the film. What makes Vendetta compelling for those who believe 9/11 and 7/7 were false flags is that it confronts these very ideas. Most Hollywood fare sticks with surface level depictions of terrorism as “us vs. them.”
But there’s a problem. In the film, it is the hero of the piece who blows up the “symbolic” Parliament buildings as a political statement. The film buys into the argument about whether the man who seeks to destroy the fascist regime is a freedom fighter or a terrorist. Discussing the question of whether the strike against the symbols of brutal power is justified is just what we get now from the progressive left. It’s blowback for all the imperialistic policies of the U.S. government, they say.
Heroes and rebels?
With 9/11, 7/7, and other similar events, it is governments or powerful elements within governments along with elite globalist power brokers who are really the ones blowing up buildings and blaming scapegoat groups like Muslims. In Vendetta, it is someone fighting this power structure who commits acts of violence and destruction.
V for Vendetta does seem to offer a wonderful catharsis for a society (both the one in the film and our own) that is desperate for some kind of hope. But as with other Hollywood revolution dabbling, the film undercuts this very message in subtle ways. Without us being aware of it, the film and others like it steer us toward familiar territory: they feed us a scenario where a single “hero” can overcome a system of oppression and set the world right again. The list of films that misdirect us in this way is endless. Here are just a few notable examples: Fight Club, The Adjustment Bureau, The Matrix, Enemy of the State, Conspiracy Theory, Dark City, The Island, Independence Day, The Truman Show, The Da Vinci Code, the Bourne films, and the Terminator films.
Now I’m not suggesting this can’t ever happen in real life, but the Hollywood repetition of this theme does lead us all to think that it’s easy to spot the ways we’re being oppressed and suppressed—to say nothing about it being possible to defeat our oppressors when we have Bruce Willis or Will Smith on our side.
In the real world, Hollywood and the rest of the corporate entertainment complex, along with the
mainstream media, combine to keep us ignorant of how we’re being deceived. Films like Vendetta tease us with hope that the truth isn’t so far from the surface, but then they betray us with subtle misdirection that discourages us from understanding what is stopping real change from happening.
Hollywood films most often attribute tyranny to bad individuals who corrupt flawed but basically benign systems. Again the list of films that deceive us this way is very long. Shooter with Mark Wahlberg comes immediately to mind. In this film, the government sets up a “patsy” for an assassination, but in the end we find that all the bad stuff is coming from one evil guy. In fact, the more evil these individuals appear to be, the more we forget about whether the system itself is impossibly corrupt and whether we continue to be manipulated in ways we’re not aware of.
During the illicit TV broadcast, V explains to the public how they managed to end up with a fascist leader:
“How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Truth be told, if you are looking for the guilty, you need only look in a mirror (there’s that metaphor again). I know why you did it; you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease—there were a myriad of problems that conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now High Chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you peace, and all he asked of you was your silent, obedient consent.”
So the people were confronted by war, terror, and disease, and they turned to fascism. In this film, tyranny, as far as V is concerned, was the result of the public’s fear and panic, not the cause of it as was the case with 9/11 and other phony “terrorist” events.
So Vendetta ends with us cheering the destruction because it is the good guys doing the destroying. This buys into the whole notion of the victims of oppression fighting back—after all, what they’re doing is justified. As long as the powers that be can keep us looking in this direction they can continue selling us the idea that destruction and conflict are directed against the state and against the ruling class by those who would oppose them.
This perspective is also reinforced in many feature films – notably Fight Club (like The Matrix, it was released in 1999) with its rebelling underclass that undertakes the destruction of other symbols of power (prominent “towers” in New York City no less). The theme is also the basis for the TV show Mr. Robot, in which an underground group seeks to take down the financial establishment by hacking into their computer systems.
So while I decry all the Hollywood compromises that undermine the real truths in V for Vendetta about how illusion and deception are essential elements in oppression, I do have to take some satisfaction from the fact that a movie that deals with a massive and deadly false flag operation also links that notion with the destruction of buildings for theatrical effect.
V says: “The building is a symbol, as is the act of destroying it. Symbols are given power by people. Alone, a symbol is meaningless, but with enough people, blowing up a building can change the world.”
But to know whether that change is a good thing or not, we have to understand who blew up the building (or buildings) and what their real agenda is.
The film did get one thing very right—that it is fear that controls us. And it is seeing through that fear and overcoming it with truth that is our only hope.