After reading the book The Count of Monte Cristo and seeing the 1934 film adaptation, I watched the film V for Vendetta again and enjoyed it even more, as it is one of those films whose message grows on you with repeated viewings (though the plot holes also become more apparent) and I cannot recommend it enough. The trailer focuses a lot more on Natalie Portman, the box office draw, than the film does.
I could see why the character of V would be drawn to the story of The Count of Monte Cristo. Both he and Edmond Dantes seek vengeance for injustices and terrible harm done to them personally, as well as see themselves as agents for bringing evil people to justice. Here is a key scene in which a speech that V gives explains what is going on and why things have to be changed.
I predicted that the film V for Vendetta would become a cult classic and that seems to be coming true. Its basic message, that of people waking up to their oppression and taking on a cruel and ruthless power structure that uses the media and religion as tools of control, has caught on and I have been observing people in various demonstrations wearing the iconic V mask and using the V symbol, mimicking the climactic scene in the film where the people rise up against their oppressive rulers.
The group Anonymous that consists largely of computer hackers sees itself in the tradition of V, fighting against oppressive structures behind a shield of anonymity. It even uses the V mask on its website where it describes its vision of expanding access to information and breaking down the barriers of secrecy that prevent people from realizing what is actually going on. This group is acting behind the scenes to support the current uprisings in the Middle East.
A recent communiqué further explains its mission.
Under most circumstances, ordinary people have little chance against the massive firepower that rulers will unleash through their security forces against protestors. The prime purpose of the armed security forces in any country is less to defend the country from outside forces and more to be used against their own people if they should challenge the power structure. Soldiers are deliberately hardened during their training so that they will be willing to kill even their own people. We see this happening in Bahrain, Yemen, and Libya, and it is likely to happen in Saudi Arabia and Syria and Jordan. And, yes, it will also happen in the US if the people should really rise up in mass protest against the oligarchic rule that is going on here.
What stops security forces from killing civilians is if they are overwhelmed by the sheer numbers arrayed against them, so that except for the psychopaths, even the most hardened troops on the front line begin to suspect that rather than saving the nation from those who would harm it, they are on the wrong side and are being used as tools to perpetuate a power structure that is actually against the best interests of the nation.
For all the ballyhoo about the use of social networks in the Middle East revolts, that is only a tiny part of the story, since only a small, though influential, minority has access to these new technologies. Besides, technology alone cannot overthrow oppressive governments. The basic message of V for Vendetta is that it is when large numbers of people are willing to get out of their homes and go out into the streets and rise up against their tyrannical rulers that regimes get toppled. As the tagline of the film says, “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”
The people in the Middle East are doing precisely what V recommends, whether they have seen the film or not. These protests are spreading. I don’t know where they will go.