Finally finished reading 'V for Vendetta' this past week, a graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd first written in 1982.
Set in an imagined totalitarian world of the 1980s, England has given itself over to fascism in a state that suffocates the very notion of freedom. Thus, the one known only as 'V', wearing the mask of Guy Fawkes, sets in a course an elaborate and violent campaign to bring down the corrupted government.
It is a remarkable story that is not only deeply engrossing, but highly sophisticated and mature in its execution and plot, with great pacing and turn of events that are quite unpredictable. The storytelling relies solely on the art and dialogue with no thought balloons or sound effects which serves well in maintaining the oppressive atmosphere and a dispirited authoritarian state.
It was a joy to read with some lovely artwork and definitely recommend it for an alternative look into a oppressive totalitarian state, not too dissimilar from previous tyrants such as Hitler and the Nazis, yet this time set in the very heart of London.
As with most books, there is a film adaptation of 'V for Vendetta' released in 2006 which I was intrigued to watch in seeing how such a vast story and setting would be translated onto the big screen. Where the recent 'The Watchmen' film followed the graphic novel as faithfully as it could, I believe 'V for Vendetta' did quite the opposite, changing the story, characters and events almost entirely as they thought best for a 'Hollywood' audience.
It was by no means terrible, but it certainly failed to reach the same high level of the original graphic novel. However, I feel it is forgiveable, as to translate quite a complex story into a a few hours of viewing is quite the daunting task and would most likely not translate too well without some tweaking. Yet, most of the ideas and content were 'dumbed down' to an extent that they lost their precise meaning, with a lot of the mature content from prostitution, sex and drugs filtered out entirely.
Overall, I felt the film was more, as its says, an 'adaptation' that appropriates the ideas, themes and characters of the graphic novel but ultimately changes it to become something quietly different altogether. The book, therefore, is what is worth reading and the film serves somewhat more as an afterthought.
It is intriguing to note that Alan Moore himself refused to watch the film, stating that the movie altered the political message as originally intended of the novel, celebrating democracy for a modern audience, when the novel itself was based on celebrated anarchy.