Pursuant to various V for Vendetta conversations around the blogosphere, here's selections from a conversation between truepenny and me on why the movie did work for us. Especially the Icky Bit.
This is very stream of consciousness and conversation-between-friends-who-have-a-l
I said: Moore's V is not sympathetic.
And Weaving's V is. He's, in fact, pitiable. And so it hurts (me the viewer) more to realize that it's him that does that to Evey, and he thinks it's for her good. Because this is somebody who loves her being abusive.
And we're *with* her. We feel her betrayal, and we have to process it with her.
And we have to understand that no, the narrative isn't forgiving V. (Whereas I think Moore's narrative *does* kind of forgive him; "We had to destroy Evey in order to save her.") And Evey isn't forgiving him either. That's not a kiss of forgiveness, not in the human sense anyway. That's a kiss of absolution, because she knows him now, and she knows why and how he's crazy.
(Sarah then points out here that V is attempting to communicate with Evey, and he's too broken to do so in any sane kind of way. And I replied: Vengeance cannot nurture. Even when it tries.)
And I said: And she's stronger than he is, in some ways. Because she remains a rational being, rather than the cunning, driven animal he's become. And some of that rubs off on him, and makes *him* more whole. Which is why it *hurts,* in the movie, when he walks away from her.
Because she's given him back a shred of his humanity. That's not just a monster going to die, any more. It's a monster who could have been a man.
What she is choosing to do is to rise above this thing he has done, and accept what it has made of her.
I don't forgive my abuser. But I value the person her abuse made of me. And that's a hard distinction to make, I think, and one we want to reject.
To which truepenny replied, that the discomfort is that we want it black and white, and the movie won't give you black and white. It gives you human monsters--V and Delia, for example.
And I said, Yes. No good guys. Evey is complicit in murder. V is not a good guy. He's not even an antihero.
He is a necessary evil; his tragedy is that he wants to be a man. It goes all Pinocchio/Beauty-and-the-Beast there... and there are ways he could survive; he does not HAVE to choose to die.
But he chooses to die because he knows he *is* evil, and he knows Evey has to make that last human choice. Because she can rise above the things he's done to her, and by extension the things society has done to her.
V... cannot. His verdict *is* vengeance. It is the only one he is capable of making.
Evie can love.
And truepenny said: "Evey is not a monster. But she knows she could be."
And I replied: Yes. And so she chooses to come back and grant V absolution. Which is what it is, I think; it's *not* forgiveness. It's absolution. He's still a sinner; he's still responsible for his crimes. She's not healed.
But she can go forward anyway.
That's heady stuff.
Later on, she said: "It doesn't want us to forgive V. It wants us to understand why he is what he is. And the same goes for Evey and Finch and Gordon and all the people we see watching their televisions."
And I said: Yes.
And ourselves. Sitting there watching the television while people are being tortured at Abu Ghraib. Which is why it's important to understand that there are all kinds of monstrosity, and Gordon's bravery is as profound as V's, once he finally stands up.
And then we nattered on for a bit in ways wherein, while the characterizations and the thematic elements worked very well for us, there were some bits of plot that were stupid and we were choosing to ignore them.
Anyway, it worked for me. Which of course doesn't mean it has to work for anybody else, but since there's been so much discussion of it, I wanted to talk about *why* it worked for me. Really profoundly, in a very uncomfortable self-examination "I want to be alone now" sort of way, not unlike "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas."
Which is my favorite story.