“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”
V for Vendetta, the 2005 film based off of the graphic novel by the same name, is a masterpiece that tackles one of the largest problems for any generation: the relationship between a people and their government. Throughout history, there have been many times of oppression and many times of revolution. In fact, there is scarcely a time in world history when one or the other is not occurring somewhere on the planet. It is almost a given that people will be dissatisfied with their government.
V for Vendetta presents a dystopian post-apocalyptic world where much of the planet has been destroyed through a nuclear apocalypse. “England prevail[ed]” supposedly through the strength of their Fascist government and their faith in God. However, although the immediate threat has passed, the government still reigns with an iron fist, imposing strict curfews while simultaneously crushing opposition and limiting the information provided to people by controlling the media. V is a survivor of a horrible biological weapons program in which the government designed, and then released, a virus responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of their own civilians. Furthermore, they were the ones that released it. V, with the help of Evey, fights to remove those in power while simultaneously accomplishing revenge for the atrocities committed against him and against the rest of the population.
Those in power will rarely give it up willingly, especially if they had to fight hard to gain it. The government instills fear in the population constantly, attempting to necessitate their totalitarian reign. However, as V comments, “people should not be afraid of their governments.” Alas, he alone seems capable of fighting against the regime. Vilified to the point of ostracization, V works alone in a manner very similar to that of Batman in The Dark Knight (2008). He is skilled with both his mind and a blade. And although he is an individual, he wears a mask both to hide his scarred features, but also for a more metaphorical purpose. Because he is wearing a mask, anyone could be V. Essentially, V is the embodiment of the revolution and the people, standing for the good of them all. V himself is representative of an idea, and “Ideas are bulletproof.”
In a world where information is paramount to understanding current events and the state of affairs, others often have control of what we can know. As such, it is incredibly important that the government remain aware that it is “by the people and for the people.” It is not an organization to shepherd us or decide what is best for us. Nor should create fear in its citizens. When a government fails to do its job, the people have the right to rally against it and replace it with a more effective government. What V shows us better than anything else is that with enough drive, one person can achieve great things.