If you’ve caught the evening news anytime during the past couple of weeks you will undoubtedly have seen coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protests. While there is of course a large swirl around their message, where they’re heading and the like I have to confess an admiration for some of the subtlety present in their signs and costumes. As an example, several of the folks at the Tacoma camp – across the street from the Harmon Brewery, very convenient – can be seen today sporting masks similar to the one adjacent to this paragraph.
Many of you will pride yourselves on recognizing it as the face of the protagonist in V for Vendetta and consider yourselves trivia gurus for having done so. Sadly, though, you’re coming up well short of earning the Trivia Master scout badge, for that you would have needed to harken all the way back to Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s original ten-issue comic book series V for Vendetta. Alan Moore, by the way, passionately objects to having his works turned into movies but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from churning out From Hell, V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and most recently Watchmen.
The V for Vendetta movie, released in 2006, is a classic anti-hero vs. the establishment plotline – similar in some ways to the classic 1984 Apple commercial and involves the main character V working with the heroine Evey as they battle the establishment together. If for nothing else you have to admire alliteration skills, such as in V’s self-introduction to Evey early in the film:
Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition! The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honour to meet you and you may call me V.
If you read the above paragraph carefully you would have caught the Latin phrase vox populi (voice of the people) and possibly started down the path of thinking about Roman numerals. V is obviously 5 in Roman numerals and the numerologists have been having a field day with this and the movie ever since. My personal favorite resonance is the use of the latinVi Veri VeniversumVivusVici (note the 5 V’s) as V’s watch phrase, loosely translated it means “by the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe.” I also admire the use of Beethoven’s Fifth symphony in various spots throughout the film. Job done!
In a very subtle moment towards the end of the film there’s a shot of Big Ben at time 11:05 – yes, there’s another 5 – but the larger reference here is to the calendar date of November 5th. Come on, this has to be common knowledge, clearly that’s a reference to Bonfire Night. What? Still not there? How about if I rattle off one of the 13 plotters caught in an attempt to detonate an Improvised Explosive Device under the House of Lords on that holiday? Guy Fawkes would be the reference here and corresponds neatly to the movie as shortly thereafter V starts blowing up most of London.
Bonfire Night in the UK is their version of the holiday known elsewhere as Devil’s Night, Hell Night, Cabbage Night, Gate Night, Mizzy Night, Miggy Night (err..what?), Goosing Night and Egg Nyte. Just ask the residents of Detroit in the 1980’s and they’ll tell you, these are all events that happen on October 30th when in a pre-Halloween-candy-rush-frenzy people can get a little out-of-hand with eggs, toilet paper, soap and other pranks, but for some the tradition extends to, well, arson and blowing things up. Take cover!
While I have little suspicion that any of our motley crue (no…come on, no one here has hair like them and look, there’s no umlaut on the u!) will be out Sunday night committing pranks of a foul nature, I wouldn’t put it past the group to be dreaming up something akin to putting an Austin Seven on the roof of Cambridge University. In general I encourage such behavior, but in the unlikely event you wind up needing bail money please don’t call me first.
Thanks all, and Happy Halloween to everyone!