Bryan Caplan  

The Verdict on V for Vendetta

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I had a good time, but V for Vendetta was a disappointment. The heroes weren't anarchists, and the villains weren't really fascists - just jerks. And they cut the best scene from the book: V's dialogue with Madame Justice. (Check it out - if that doesn't make you buy the book at your first opportunity, there's no hope for you!)

Call me a hard-to-please fanboy, but it's not true. I loved Sin City and both X-men. But V minus anarchy just feels flat.


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TRACKBACKS (2 to date)
TrackBack URL: http://econlog.econlib.org/mt/mt-tb.cgi/475
The author at Minor Thoughts in a related article titled Reviewing V for Vendetta writes:
    Bryan Caplan found it disappointing. So did our own reviewer, Adam. Here are his thoughts: Reviewers generally seem to be praising it to the heavens. The general audience reaction at my theater was from “…It was OK.” to “Gr... [Tracked on March 22, 2006 8:19 AM]
The author at Capital Region People in a related article titled Just saw V for Vendetta! writes:
    A visually and intellectually stunning motion picture. If your thing is politics and government, this is your movie. If you liked "Swordfish" you'll probably like V. Alan Moore, the creator of the story, wanted nothing to do with the movie... [Tracked on March 22, 2006 12:46 PM]
COMMENTS (18 to date)
Stan writes:

Ditto.

Robert Schwartz writes:

The reviews made it seem like an apologetic for terrorism.

Zac writes:

We had a good time but of course I agree that it was a disappointment. I can see now why Moore wanted to distance himself from the project (although it wasn't nearly as bad as, say, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). Poorly written, but at least it was well made. Apparently the Wachowski Bros. original script was basically a direct book-to-screen adaptation.. too bad we couldn't see THAT movie.

I'm not sure who they were really making the movie for. Too anti-establishment for many people who are panning it as sympathetic to present-day terrorism, and not anti-establishment enough for fans of the graphic novel. Ah well.

John writes:

As someone who hasn't read the graphic novel, I liked the movie. I thought the lesbien subplot was a little boring and slowed down the movie too much, but besides that the ending was great.

Bryan, I didn't think that you would care if it were anarchist or not. Always considered you as more of a free-market guy, but not quite anarchist.

Zac writes:

John hasn't been reading Econlog very closely.

Perry E. Metzger writes:

For my part, I liked the film. It wasn't as good as the graphic novel, but it seemed amazingly good given the constraints that a hollywood movie suffers under. They even left Valerie's letter intact.

Could it have been better? Yes, but not in the real world I fear.

Daniel writes:

I agree with Perry - quite surprising that they went as far as they did. They could have easily panned more to the sensitivities of the general public and changed the setting away from Britain. And they took it a step farther by incorperating short news clips on Avian flu and riot footage....that takes Chutzpah. Keep in mind - Hollywood had to sell this to the same public that's now gobbling up "The Shaggy Dog" with relish.

Did anyone else find the National Guard ad during the previews a bit out of place?

MjrMjr writes:

I saw the film today and didn't really like it. Everything about the V character was very pretentious and over the top-all of his dialogue and the domino scene in particular. In general, large elements of the film didn't seem believable. Mailing hundreds of thousands of masks to the general public, then they all dress alike at that protest at the end? Seems a stretch. Although, as someone who isn't a fan of graphic novels/comics in general, maybe I don't "get" what the filmmakers are trying to do with an effort like this. I did, however, quite like Sin City.

Marcus writes:

For a alleged "anarchist" Alan Moore sure does a lot of whining about the alleged violation of his state capitalist intellectual property rights.

Will he be making a write-in vote for Maggie Thatcher next election?

As I wrote in my post "V for Vapid", it is strange that Alan Moore professes to love anarchism so much and then wrote V to oppose Margaret Thatcher's government. Margaret Thatcher if any politican ever was the ultimate anarchist. She didn't believe that society even exists, and she wanted to dismantle the state and let people do what they want.

Based on this contradiction, one has to suspect that Moore's idea of anarchism is in reality closer to communism. Moore probably wouldn't like the real Vox Populi very much, should it ever raise, since most people tend to be quite bourgeois and not at all that progressive or socially conscious.

Max writes:

"I saw the film today and didn't really like it. Everything about the V character was very pretentious and over the top-all of his dialogue and the domino scene in particular.

Isn't this a part of all comics (may it be graphic novel or classic)? They are all over the top and sometimes unbelievable or far from reality.

"In general, large elements of the film didn't seem believable. Mailing hundreds of thousands of masks to the general public, then they all dress alike at that protest at the end? Seems a stretch."

Yes, but it can be possible, in an imaginative universe. I rather dislike the feeling of it, because it shows that this cult can quickly become a new authoritarian state :)

"Although, as someone who isn't a fan of graphic novels/comics in general, maybe I don't "get" what the filmmakers are trying to do with an effort like this. I did, however, quite like Sin City."

Sin City was really a good movie, or at least the best comic adaption I have ever seen :)

Scott Scheule writes:

Marcus:

For a alleged "anarchist" Alan Moore sure does a lot of whining about the alleged violation of his state capitalist intellectual property rights.

I gather your point is that intellectual property is a product of government, and therefore an anarchist is being hypocritical if he enjoys that protection or complains about its absence.

Fair enough, but how is that different from any other form of property? Physical property is just as surely a product of government, no? Or do you believe that if an anarchist complains about any property violation--be it intellectual or physical--he's being equally hypocritical?

R.J. Lehmann writes:

I enjoyed it. No, it isn't as good in its medium as the source material was, but that's a higher threshhold than I'd want to apply. The source material may have been the greatest of its type...ever. Just being smashing good fun is enough for me. And if it inspires some folks to seek out Alan Moore's work or to think deeply about state power (the most common comment I've heard from those who went in to the film without familiarity was that it "really made them think") then all the better.

Marcus writes:

Fair enough, but how is that different from any other form of property?

An idea is not like a chair. If I give you my chair, I no longer have it. If I give you an idea, I still keep a copy.

Physical property is just as surely a product of government, no?

No.

Physical property does not depend upon a government, and often exists in opposition to a government. Just ask a dead Indian.

Or do you believe that if an anarchist complains about any property violation--be it intellectual or physical--he's being equally hypocritical?

Claims of intellectual property rights are particularly dependent upon government for enforcement. Aristotle would have blinked at you blankly if you had tried to explain the concept to him, and he wasn't even an anarchist. For a left anarchist like Moore, his recent complaints of violation by the movie makers should be doubly embarrassing. First because it is an affirmation of private ownership (naughty, naughty) and second because it is an open endorsement of state power.

Marcus writes:

... and second because it is an open endorsement of state power.

Timothy writes:

I enjoyed the movie but thought much of it was ham-handed at parts. I suppose in order to sell it they had to update things to something the 17-34 demographic was going to buy, and most of those folks don't exactly have a handle on the intracicies of Thatcherite England. The funny thing is that often professed anarchists are really just leftists who say that they're anarchists to get a rise out of people. This is why they distrust libertarians and conservatives with libertarian leanings. That would be my idle speculation on Alan Moore, but I'm just now getting around to reading his comic books, so maybe I'm wrong.

liberty writes:

I have not seen it and this reviewer probably never read the comic; still this review has another take on the film - that its a harebrained political whack at the current Bush state:
http://www.rightwingnews.com/archives/week_2006_03_19.PHP#005399

Just for another POV.

liberty writes:

BTW if that review sounds paranoid, many of the undertones seen by it are also caught by CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/2006/SHOWBIZ/Movies/03/17/ew.mov.vendetta/

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