“Beneath this mask there is more than flesh, beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.” V for Vendetta, is a dystopian, anti- political piece of literature starring V, a freedom fighter seeking vengeance against a fascist government, as well as peace for London where the film is set. V wears a Guy Fawkes mask, representing justice. Furthermore, giving the film contextual depth in relation to the Fifth of November, associated with the roman numeral for five; V. The domino scene combines the two techniques of symbolism and dialogue, James McTeigue as the director consciously creating a moment for us to make a realisation of our own regarding what must happen in order for us to live in world peace. This has a relationship with the fight scene, as irony is used through symbolism, which is juxtaposed with the set up of the mise en scene, to also emphasise the directors purpose. The film is a commentary to open the gateway to social change by encouraging our society to speak up and display integrity.
The domino scene is skilfully crafted as a rhythmic collapse of all events leading up to V’s objective for the film; the takedown of the Norse fire government by destroying the parliamentary building. This is strategically named alike to the domino effect, “the cumulative effect produced when one event sets off a chain of similar events.” Also, a reference to the domino theory that was prominent in the 1950’s, that if one country started to display signs of communism, other countries would then follow corresponding to dominoes falling. At the height of Mr Finch’s monologue, he expresses, “all V has to do is keep his word and then..” followed by a meaningful close up shot of V’s hand adorned in a black glove emphatically flicking the first domino, initiating the collapse of the thousands of dominoes lined up behind it, which form the letter V. It is clear the dominoes are symbolic of catastrophic events that have taken place in London in the past, including real life footage of World War II. McTeigue artistically manipulates dialogue and symbolism in a way that reveals his purpose of showing what must happen in order for their society to live in peace. The dominoes all are symbols of events, knocked over in order to enforce an idea. V is the embodiment of something momentous having to occur before anything in the way of peace is achieved. His demeanour could be described as constantly tranquil, with his soothing tone and witty remarks, despite his acts of terrorism, displaying irony. This is prominent throughout, especially when V features or is being referenced to. This makes me as the viewer, feel as though V’s character is the epitome of a hero, acquiring all of the qualities of one, his extensive understanding of the world, supported by his strong presence. He is never aggressive or demanding, a complete contrast to The Chancellor and his people. The beginning of the domino scene consists of Mr Finch in a moment of realisation, he is narrating the montage that is combined to show the events that will lead to the climax. Finch is explaining to Dominic his reasoning of visiting Larkhill Detention Centre, in which V was held, and Eve had experienced. “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 had 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.” This captivating speech incorporated with the montage of shots illustrating events of what has been and what is to come, identifies the directors purpose. Arguably being that, the only way to make real changes is to take action. V’s plan is to destroy what is holding the society back from it, which in this case is the Norse fire government. When Mr Finch explains that “everything is connected”, we can see that he is not only referring to the events in the film through the use of symbolism and foreshadowing what is to come, but we can also see the statement playing out visually, and in cinematographic devices that are used. Everything in this scene especially, is connected, and the dominoes and Mr Finch’s moving speech, combine to create an effect for the viewer. In doing so, McTeigue has forced viewers to ask the question; who are the real terrorists? Additionally relating to our society today, as despite the fact that V for Vendetta was written in the 80’s, many of the ideas are still relevant. “Immigrants, homosexuals and muslims” are discriminated against by the government in the film, and are currently being treated a similar way in the United States by their president; Donald Trump. As V is a representation of the implications of a harmful government on the people, I personally see the oppression and damage they caused rather than doing any good. As the director, James McTeigue could have purposely made V’s character controversial to open the lines of communication up in exploring the validity of our government and futures.
“Justice will be swift, it will be righteous and it will be without mercy” V shows no mercy during the fight scene, many members of the parliamentary police force are brought down, complementary to the dominoes being knocked over. When V kills the men, by intricate knife work and mesmerising self defence, it is presented to be rather than violent; theatrical. As he moves, he performs what could be defined as more of a dance, and he remains calm and collected while bullets are shot at him, and the police force surround him. Mcteigue combines this use of symbolism with the mise en scene, to emphasise his purpose of showing through V, that something must happen in order for them to move forward successfully and peacefully. The scene begins with a close up of the chancellor’s face on the television, red with escalated rage. “Our enemy is an insidious one, seeking to divide us… we must remain united.” Mcteigue uses a play on words, as the mise en scene shows a montage of shots while he is speaking, all empty rooms that had once been filled with families and communities brainwashed by his consuming speeches. During the rest of his speech, The Chancellor declares that V is a terrorist, but the audience can see from the application of symbolism and the specific shots chosen, that he is subconsciously referring to himself. This is prominent when V says “bring him down”, the statement is noticeably meant both figuratively and literally. The Chancellor is dragged down the House of Parliament stairs with a bag over his head. The bag is removed, symbolising the beginning of the end, which created a moment for me as the viewer to see him finally getting what he deserves for the repression of the people, and being the main person responsible for V being confined in the Larkhill Detention Centre. By McTeigue intentionally setting up the shots this way, it symbolises the fact that, despite the fact The Chancellor had convinced himself and the people he was innocent, V’s character’s questioning of this led to the societal realisation that he had done wrong. The irony used, combined with the shots of the empty rooms, show that The Chancellor and his words lost their meaning and authority when he was being revealed for the crimes he had committed. As a viewer I was also able to understand that inquiring and thinking for yourself is never a bad thing. This is symbolised by all of the people V kills in the scene. To some it may seem unjust, but by not speaking up and going along with matters that are clearly wrong, they are arguably just as much to blame for The Chancellor’s schemes. This is clearly still prominent today, as people are easily influenced by others’ destructive behaviour. The fight scene emphasises what Mcteigue is trying to portray; that nothing comes without consequences. Even though those in power sometimes tend to abuse it, in the end it will not go unseen if someone, even in a lower minority speaks up, others will begin to see what’s morally right. Also, despite the fact that V could be characterised as a “terrorist”, the lines of right and wrong are blurred in the film, as what The Chancellor has done and continued to do was arguably unacceptable. This is parallel to our society, there is no definite right or wrong, but we can use our initiative to decide when we are mistreating each other or constituting inhumane situations. When Mr Finch has the gun pointed at V, continuously firing bullets and yelling “Die! Die! Why won’t you die?!” It becomes clear to me as a viewer that V and his ideas will never die, and by Mcteigue utilising these societal links, makes us feel an emotional connection to the text.
To conclude, In V for Vendetta the visual text, symbolism and dialogue are combined in the domino scene to show that something significant must take place in order for us to live in peace. Thus, creating an emotional attachment, and opening a social discussion in our society as to taking action against matters that involve the harming and oppression of innocent people. Symbolism and the mise en scene are set up in the fight scene purposely to emphasise this, and to show that standing up for what you believe is right, will in turn restore positive changes in future generations. “People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.”