Reason as the Leading Motive

V for Vendetta

Posted by Jerry on March 23, 2006

V for Vendetta is a very good movie. It is worth a watch, and then one more. The Wachowski brothers display a superb mastery of their art in writing up an intelligent, thought-provoking, witty and engaging screenplay.

One does not need to dwell too much on the plot however – it is only perfunctory, and serves mainly as a vehicle to move the story along. The true purpose of the movie is to dish out ideas. It creates characters that cannot quite easily be compartmentalized into the “good” guys or the “bad” guys, and sets them out to enact their ideas with complete consistency.

And that is one of the most amazing things I noticed about this movie – all the characters who embody varying premises act out the full logical implications of their ideas. The movie dramatizes and concretizes abstract premises and sets in motion their eventual logical outcomes.

Consistency is always potent – even if it is based on false or ant-real premises. Infact, Communism and National Socialism (which are dramatized in the movie to differing degrees) are superbly consistent philosophies developed by highly intelligent thinkers – the power of their logic invariably bends many human minds into succumbing to the potency of their theories.

Islamic fundamentalism, as another example, is an ideology that is highly consistent with its anti-life premises based on the Koran. Contradictions and inconsistencies dilute the power of ideas, and consequently, the actions based upon inconsistent belief systems are also tepid, guilt-laden, and thoroughly impotent. However, notice that Islamic militants, regardless of their actual numbers, are the most powerful threat of western values and culture; the consistency with which they hold their ideas make them a truly formidable enemy even for the might of the American military.

V for Vendetta generates much fodder for discussion, blogging, thinking, and arguing. The quality of acting of the female lead, Natalie Portman, is average at best, and that of the main character who is masked… well, he is masked. The fact that he is masked is an interesting aspect of who he is – that aspect is itself an embodiment of a very fundamental principle. At one point in the movie, the masked character says “a building is a symbol” and that to destroy a building is to attack a symbol with another symbol, then at another point in the movie he says, “Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. There is an idea.” He also says, (I’m paraphrasing): I am not the face beneath this mask, or the skin on that face, or the muscles under the skin, of the bones beneath it.

The common theme in all of those statements is the expression of the mind-body dichotomy; a principle of Platonic Idealism. That fact that the character describes himself solely on the basis of the ideas he embodies (having no regard for his physicality) corroborates my argument. Moreover, the plot of the movie is such that the character’s face or physical identity is never revealed due to the existential necessities of events.

The film is slick, the action sequences are superb, there were moments in the film when I experienced goose-bumps going through my body – those moments were mostly when I could recognize and identify the abstract principles which were being dramatized by the characters – it gave me the chance to witness ideas in action safely on the cinema screen without having to deal with their devastating consequences in reality. Film, when used properly as a medium of art, can be a truly powerful medium.

link to: IMDB

8 Responses to “V for Vendetta”

  1. You make me even more excited about seeing it! Can’t wait!

  2. Anonymous said

    This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Ergo Sum said

    I wasn’t anywhere in anyway implying that the movie was Objectivist-oriented… nor should you construe my liking the movie as my personal endorsement of its predominant philosophies.

    I like this movie because it made me think, as I’m sure it made you too.

    I’ll go check out the link you provided me. Thank you.

  4. Ergo Sum said

    After visiting the link to “ruleofreason” that Anonymous provided me, I read Nick Provenzo’s review and disagreed with him.

    Below is the comment I left on that site:

    “I don’t think “V” stood for anarchy, revolution, subjectivist libertarianism, or any such thing whatsoever. Infact, I believe “V” embodied a consistent premise of “death” – from the death as terror he offers the government, to the death he embraces for himself. He is the embodied of a terrorist – belonging to the flip side of the same coin that the totalitarian government he was fighting against.”

    Notably, Nick Provenzo agreed with my assessment of the basic premise of the movie. He said this:

    “I agree–and that observation reveals the meaning of this film at its most basic. Anarchy, revolution, and subjectivist libertarianism were just “V’s” means to his ultimate end.”

  5. I apologize to “Anonymous” for having to delete his/her comment here… I was (and still am) experiencing blog-template problems, and I noticed that the link provided by the anonymous commenter was interfering with my blog template due to its very long url address.

    I will paraphrase Anonymous’s comment here, unless he/she chooses to repeat what was said.

    “Objectivists are pretty equally split about their response to this movie. I agree with Nick Provenzo’s review at: http://www.ruleofreason.com.

    After watching the movie, I felt like I needed to take a moral shower!

  6. Tyrel said

    WOW! I finally saw this movie this weekend.

    “Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. There is an idea.”

    I love that quote…how the flesh dies (as he did in the movie) but ideas can outlive the flesh. I especially loved at the end after the building was bombed and it showed the faces of all those that had been murdered before. The director did a good job showing how these people died but in their death the ideas they died for are still alive. Anyways, hope all is well!

  7. Ergo said

    Hey! I’m glad you liked the movie. I enjoyed the experience of watching it too. I now own the DVD. It is cinema as art.

  8. […] John’s post also reminded me of my reaction to the movie “V for Vendetta.” I loved watching the movie precisely because it functioned splendidly as a form of Art: it concretized in striking visual form the values I hold (such as freedom, autonomy, etc.) and what could happen when those values are denied to an individual, society, or a nation. The movie also concretized various other metaphysical viewpoints that I explicitly reject, such as the mind-body duality, platonic idealism, rationalism, etc., and permitted me to confirm through the visual medium of the movie the concrete reasons why I reject them. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: