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Friday, March 24, 2006

We Are In Brazil

Posted by on March 24 at 9:46 AM

Early last year, before the screening of the sci-fi film Brazil at the Science Fiction Museum, I gave a short talk that made two points: One, the film was suddenly relevant because of its theme (a state conducted war on terror); and two, for a better understanding of its inner workings, Brazil had to be examined in the light of the IRA’s bombing of Harrods (a department store in London) on Christmas day in 1983. In V for Vendetta, which is not a great film but certainly relevant, the theme of Brazil, which was released in 1985, is combined with the theme of 1984 (life in the kind of totalitarian state that Sandra Day O’Conner fears we are sliding into) to produce something that looks and feels like our post 9-11 world. V for Vendetta has many problems, particularly its concept of how a revolution works, which, as with all revolutions since the French one that broke open the world in which we still live, imagines a mass action against a repressive order as requiring the negation of the many, or the multitude (to use the language of Negri and Hardt), to form the one. Meaning, the revolution is only possible if the many surrender their differences and become a singular force. Granted, the unification of the many may ensure the overthrow of an oppressive order but, as modern history has shown us, shortly after a victory of this kind there is either, one, The Terror (read Phenomenology of Spirit for a fuller idea of this), or, two, The Betrayal (read The Wretched of the Earth for a fuller idea of this). Anyway, please go and see this action movie, V for Vendetta. It really deserves deeper consideration.

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Or you could read the graphic novel (written in the '80s as a response to Thatcher's policies) if the flashy action movie does not appeal to you.

It's Double Plus Good.

The previews for the movie make it look like another Zorro remake.

If it's mob action you're into, count me out.

I saw V fully prepared to hate it, as I hate all high-concept blockbuster messiah movies. I didn't hate it.

It's not a great film, but the timing is relevant, and it has stuck with me if only to provoke my own reflection apart from the vacuous tone of the movie's "something is wrong with this world" schlock.

If you can get past some truly awful dialog whose awfulness is amplified by its vaguely religious undertones, there's some food for thought.

Haven't seen the movie yet, but I've heard reports that it leaves a lot of the comic's (whoops, graphic novel's) polemics out in favor of action, action action. Also, some of the original's harsher turns were probably deemed too controversial for a wide release. For instance, I hear they left out the book's method for killing a pedophile priest -- he is given a poisoned communion wafer and told that if the doctrine of transubstantiation is true, he'll be fine.

I guess they were worried that might offend somebody.

Anyhow, the original is quite clear about the downsides to revolution, and seems to basically be saying that sometimes it's better to face the chaos of a collapsed state than the orderliness of an oppresssive state. It is certainly not a "revolution makes everything better" kind of viewpoint.

well it's playing at the cinerama .. i have a friend who wants to experience the cinerama (he thought they were all gone) .. so i'll maybe see this as it's the only thing playing.

i also saw it with friends thinking i wouldn't like it and left with some shadows of ideas that have been lingering all week.there was a lot less action filled than the trailers suggest and even a tad 'too talky for onein our group. we also saw it at the cinerama , if only because it wasn't playing at pacific science's imax
( although it's playing in imax aound the country - even in spokane- it's ain't here). may i suggest earplugs for the final ten minutes or so. it ranks, behind goonies and scent of a woman, as one of the most ear splitting movies i've ever seen

I think this movie is particularly appealing now becuase it narrates the story, in flashback, of how the birth of a totalitarian regime plants the seed of that regime's own death. The London of the near-future in "V for Vendetta" is the future-America we all invision if we accidentally fall asleep reading Adbiusters. The present of the film's universe is our near-future; the near-past of the film's universe is our present, right now. The slick rhetorical move is to fast-forward to mid-21st century, where the gorged dictatorship (which we all believe to be currently gestating) is finally burst open and destroyed from the inside out by a happy, inverted September 11th-esque terrorist building demolition. The plot of the movie exchanges our political pessimism for the optimism of imminent movie-fun. It nods that, yes, we are about to be taken over by fascists, but then it skips over all the horror of living through such an era and gets to the good part of the promised liberal revolution. It's like the dentist promising you'll get a lollipop afterward.

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