• Saira D.

"V for Vendetta": Film vs. Graphic Novel

Hello readers and welcome to August! This new month has come into effect and what that means is… a brand-new summer piece on FLIX! I hope the anticipation was real… as real as… my anticipation to write on yet another DC film whose graphic novel I’ve already read – that’s right, we’re officially on the second take of graphic novels versus films in the DC series here on FLIX! So here to kick off August the best way possible, FLIX presents to you this very happy Friday… V for Vendetta.

I’m going to start off blunt when I tell you that V for Vendetta – the film – really doesn’t live up to the graphic novel precedent. And before you say “well Saira, every book is better than the movie. There just isn't enough time to turn all that written detail into visuals.” And while I do concur with such a statement, I will say my bar is set at a median-level purely due to Watchmen! If you read my Watchmen piece, you’ll know that I gave it a pretty decent rating on the film versus graphic novel spectrum because you could visually see the attempts made to connect the feature film to its graphic novel origins and, it doesn’t cut out that much content. However with V for Vendetta its terribly noticeable how much it strays from the novel, purely to make it… well… more “appropriate for the masses”. And while the film may be rated R, I can definitely tell you the film goes nowhere near the R rated topics and themes the novel delves into! In fact, the film skips so much of the down-right horrendous, dirty, and illegal grime that fills the pages of V for Vendetta that you can hardly say the film is trying to tell you the same story! Even if people may not like to hear bad news, it’s vital to this story because it exemplifies how terrible the world we live in unfortunately is and in addition, it channels major 1984 vibes which only helps the viewer better understand why “someone” needs to save the world! When I first watched the film and looked back to reflect on what I’ve seen versus what I saw and read in the graphic novel, I knew right away they trimmed and styled the film to make it more about our masked protagonist/antagonist vigilante “V”, and not really about V’s backstory and the reason he pulls the stunts and events he does – aka the story. Literally the entire “point” of the graphic novel is hardly skimmed. And why? Because like I said before, its probably too “R rated” for the masses and features a niche perspective most of society can't handle, won't understand, or are too lazy to give much time and thought too – how sad… for them! And if this tale of how much this film shies away from the graphic novels dark underbelly sparked some interest and curiosity in that mind of yours, I highly suggest reading this graphic novel.


Now staying on the topic of should I say… “cleanliness”, it is worth noting that V in the graphic novel versus V in the film are so different! The film with its more PG-13 rating makes V a very clean-cut theatre-type character who is suave and an amazing fighter with phenomenal swordsmanship. And although he is those things in the novel as well, he doesn’t entirely look so well put together. This clean up act makes it hard to view him as a true rebel in the film whose endured such hardships and cruelty, that he’s turned vigilante and is dead set on trying to rescue London from the trap it and its people have found themselves in. Instead, he is made to look like an impeccably well-dressed with good taste man who, actually looks kind of creepy… whereas in the graphic novel he appears more mysterious, a bit dangerous, and intimidating. I seriously prefer the V in the graphic novel to that in the film, and I made that decision as soon as he appeared in the first frame of the film!

Another factor to note is that despite the films 2 hour and 12-minute run time, it really hops through a lot of character building, breaking, and rebuilding scenes. Most notably is of course, V’s full backstory but we also have, Evey. When Evey is put into prison and tortured in the film it does feel kind of long, but if only you knew how much more there is to that terrible story! In the film you don’t get a sense of how long she's been held prisoner – you can perhaps estimate with cut scenes of her being thrown back into her cell that perhaps some days have gone by, or maybe a couple weeks. But, though the graphic novel also doesn’t specify a time frame (at least not that I can recall anyway), you truly get the sense that she's held prisoner and tortured for a very long time simply due to the detail and pages spent explaining and showcasing her time in prison. Here we witness the various torture methods she endures, the countless times she denies knowing V’s whereabouts, the seemingly never-ending time she spent lying on the floor in her cell, eventually befriending a rat, and coming across a past prisoner’s words. All these actions, series of images, and relationships give you the sense that only time fostered such things, and these are things that could not come to be in a couple of days. And if you're curious as to why this time on Evey in prison is so vital to the story and character, it 100% stems from part of the “message” not only trying to be conveyed within this scene as part of the plot, but also the message V is trying to convey and ensure Evey fully understands.

Last but not least, there is one thing James McTeigue’s V for Vendetta did right and that was trying to implement some of the visuals from the graphic novel into the film! Just like for Watchmen I couldn’t find that many, however I will say Watchmen’s screen image versus the graphic novel’s illustration does look better and gives you more of the graphic novel or comic book vibe, if you know what I mean. Nonetheless we do get two screen images versus graphic novel illustrations from V for Vendetta’ (finally some brownie points to award), and they’re both “the 5th of November” … (*chills down spine*):

And that my friends is V for Vendetta à la feature film! A solid 6/10 rating to be completely honest as it comes with three cons and only one pro… so it really isn't a film I’m down to rewatch (unlike Watchmen). The best part about watching the film is probably Natalie Portman’s performance because hello, when does she not do a stellar job in the film she's in – whatever the genre! Natalie Portman aside though, knowing how much the film is cleaned up and completely skips over to low key tell an entirely yet “the same” story just doesn’t cut it for me, and like anyone else really, the book or graphic novel wins, every time! So go ahead and order V for Vendetta online, read it online, or borrow it from your nearest library and in the meantime, watch the film and compare for yourself.

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