The movie V for Vendetta and the book 1984 have many interesting facets, and parallels. Even though 1984 was written in the years after the Second World War, it shares much in common with V for Vendetta produced in 2006. McTeigue, the director of the sci-fi thriller uses postmodern works like 1984 for inspiration and guidance. Both the works take us into a future world, very much reminiscent of Huxley’s “Brave new World.’ The world has supposedly come of age. There is immense technological advancement.
Disease is almost eliminated. But people live their lives from one day to the next like robots. In fact, they are programmed not to think or question. Ultimately, power rests with a central authoritarian government, headed by a single man. A single man, who is everywhere.
The government puts up a façade of a well-meaning party creating peace and harmony, standing up for the right principles, all honor and glory. But a little deeper, these parties are corrupt political organizations, which have seized power, and are exercising immense, unfair control over the entire world. The common man has lost his individuality, and follows the party’s directions without question. Ultimately, the world is heading into a dangerous new scientific ageMany critics believe both the works, like other works of postmodern literature are just works of fiction, and can never materialize. But many believe that these ominous principles have already started taking root in our world today.
In fact, one look at contemporary times shows a slow, but clear drift towards Orwell’s Oceania, or McTeigue’s future Britain.George Orwell’s novel 1984 is considered as one the most groundbreaking works of post-modern, or, more correctly, dystopian literature. Orwell wrote the book in 1949, but it is set in the year 1984, where the world is severed into three simple, authoritarian countries – Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. “Big Brother” – a man who never appears in person, but is everywhere, rules Oceania. The reader is constantly reminded, “Big Brother is watching you.” The party follows a simple slogan: “War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength.”1984 is the story of thirty-nine year old Winston Smith, a citizen of the totalitarian state of Oceania, present day Britain. Smith works at the ministry of Truth, an organization of the ruling Party that has complete control of all official historical records.
History is revised regularly, to suit the Party’s actions. Smith’s job is exactly this. He enjoys his work, but at the same time, comes across the true documents of history. Smith is also deeply discontented with his monotonous life. Everyone is under constant surveillance.
Even a little deviation from the set thought pattern means grave danger. The “thought police” keep a strict watch on everyone. Those believed to be potential threats and rebels are tortured till they agree to norms. Then begins the love affair between Smith and Julia. The two meet in a room above an antiques shop, being told that there were no hidden cameras or screens there.
Smith begins to question the actions of the Party, and gradually, develops a deep-rooted resentment against it. He comes in contact with a man, O’Brien. O’Brien leads him to believe that he is a member of an underground resistance group, the “Brotherhood” which planned to overthrow the present government. But little does Smith realize that this was all a plan set to trap him. The two are caught by the thought police and tortured till they confess their unflinching faith in Big Brother and the Party.
Orwell ends his book with an ominously tragic note – both have been “reprogrammed” and are devout followers of the Party.George Orwell’s work forms the basis of a recent movie called “V for Vendetta.” In fact, the movie’s storyline is heavily inspired from 1984, and similar works of dystopian literature. Critics also believe it is a vague reflection, and commentary of life in Nazi Germany. V for Vendetta too is set in Britain, a future version of it though. It is ruled by an authoritarian government called “Norsefire.” Directed by James McTeigue, the movie is a similar picture of a postmodern society. Evey Hammond, played by Natalie Portman discovers that there is more to the history of Norsefire than she thought.
V, the hero, who remains masked throughout the film, stirs a chaotic uprising, much to the wrath of the government. Norsefire had come to power by an engineered bioterrorist attack that left thousands dead. The virus was used against all those with non-conformist views, political and social rebels and threats. This is where, the hero V was caught. After spending days at a detention camp, V vows to take revenge on Norsefire.
V sets a date of November 5th to achieve his set goal. By the eve of the date, the country is in chaos, with more and more people turning against the government. Eventually, though V dies, Evey, and an inspector V are successful in destroying the parliament.Both the movie, and Orwell’s masterpiece share a lot in common. Norsefire too followed a slogan, reminiscent of Oceania’s slogan of “War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength.” The movie also uses devices used in 1984, the most obvious one being that of Adam Sutler. He appears on huge televsions screens and posters, reminding one of the constant uncomfortable presence of Big Brother.
But appart from these similarities, the two share a much deeper connection – that of the underlying theme. Back in 1949, Orwell pictured a world 40 years in the future. A world with thousands of nameless faceless people living mundane little lives, following one regime blidly, without the capacity to quesiton, rebel, or even think. Even though Orwells 1984 has not materialized yet, many do agree that it is not far. In fact, even today, many continue to get brainwashed into thinking in a particular direction.Oceania has a strict control on news and media, just like many countries today.
Media and news is highly manipulated to suit a countries best interest. Political uprising and rebellion too is suppressed. Torure is a technique that is widely in use to silence opposition, or extract information. More and more people are losing the ability to think independtly. The movie too touches the same themes of suppression and control.
Another parallel that can be drawn between the two works is that of characters. Orwell’s Smith is very much like McTeigue’s Inspector Finch. Finch discovers a whole new truth about Norsefire, and its dirty corrupt past. Another parallel between the two is the way distortion of history has been depicted. History is contorted and twited till it suits the ruling party.
Facts and fiured are changed – true historical facts are lost forever. Another theme the two share is of complete dictatorship. One man is ruling, and has the ultimate control, and power of the entire nation. But he is not just the head. He has made his way into lives of ordinary people.
He is displayed everywhere, his presence is constant. In fact, Orwell’s Big Brother is almost legendry in literature.But there is one difference between the two works. Orwell ends his book in a most unhappy tragic way – the lovers eventually become like the hundreds of thousands of people rejoicing in the Party’s victory, living on without a higher purpose or aim. But McTeigue ends the movie with the destruction of Norsefire. Evey and Finch watch the Parliament explode – Norsefire’s rule, we assume, comes to an end.But even though the two works share a common theme, and postmodernism, there is little proof that things will materialize as predicted.
Proponents of the philosophy believe times are moving faster than we think. Many signs of such an age are already apparent in our society. Critics though, believe that such a time is virtually impossible. Even though torture and manipulation is rampant, they claim that they have been the easiest and the most convenient techniques, and have been used often in the past. There have been innumerable authoritarian dictatorships in history.
But a gaping hole in that theory is this – in the past, control was cruel, and inhuman. The common man resented it, and rebelled, till there was a revolution. In our world today though, there is a sublime control. We are being controlled without even being aware of it. And so, there is no rebellion.
The little rebellion that there is, is immediately suppressed. The argument is controversial, which is why both 1984 and V for Vendetta received both appreciation and criticism, but one thing is clear – That nameless age is not possible as long as we have works like these to learn from.Works Cited:V for Vendetta, retrieved from vforvendetta.warnerbros.com/Wikipedia, Nineteen Eighty Four, retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four