A Superhero Less Ordinary

Anglorama nr 1/2006 (33)
A Superhero Less Ordinary

Nowe dzieło twórców filmu Matrix próbuje tłumaczyć mechanizmy polityki za pomocą pojedynków w stylu kung fu. Czy tak brawurowo sporządzony koktajl da się przełknąć? 

In 1999 the Wachowski brothers cooked up a cinematic stew that was devoured with delight by vast audiences around the world. They took some gnostic concepts, added a portion of Buddhism and a pinch of popular Japanese art and, finally, spiced up the lot with kung-fu sauce. I might have skipped one or two lesser ingredients but essentially this was what Matrix tasted like.  The stew was quite palatable, in fact tasty enough to withstand the addition of the two bland sequels that completed the trilogy. This very spring the Wachowski brothers are back in the kitchen as producers and scriptwriters of a gloomy political thriller entitled "V for Vendetta".

The film has been directed by James McTeigue who learned his trade as an assistant director on films like the "Matrix" trilogy and the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy. To many movie fans, me included, this may not sound like a good recomendation, yet to give the guy the credit, he also worked on Dark City, which was a brilliant piece of science fiction. The plot of the movie is set in modern Britain but it’s not the country we usually associate with Indian corner shops or Elton John getting married to his male partner. This is the sort of Britain where things have gone wrong. Having survived the apocalypse of a nuclear war, the country is ruled by fascist militias and cold-hearted bureaucrats who are rebuilding it according to their totalitarian vision. Like their predecessors in Germany, they start by burning history books and demolishing monuments of former times.  Homosexuals, Blacks, Muslims and other “redundant elements” are transferred to concentration camps where they await death in gas chambers. Citizens of a once proud state are being transformed into an obedient crowd, brainwashed with propaganda and intimidated by the secret police.  Surveillance cameras and microphones have become ubiquitous

As the long-established cinematic tradition expects, even this hopeless, Orwellian world must produce a hero that will face up to the villains and lead the oppressed to a better future. And this is where the mysterious V, played by Hugo Weaver, comes into play. Quite predictably, he is a master of deception and an invincible fighter who would slash you into confetti before you could ask: “Is that a knife?” On the other hand, unlike jolly old Spiderman and James Bond, V is a really complex character. When he talks, he uses obscure quotations, riddles and songs. His intentions are difficult to see through. What he thinks or what he may feel is a secret concealed behind his smiling, theatrical mask. He is an anarchist, a comedian, a demon and a philosopher at the same time. The only person that ever gets close to him is Evey (Natalie Portman), a prostitute-turned-V's-sidekick, yet even she has little understanding of who or what he really is.

The story seems quite ingenious and before you ask – no, it was not the Wachowski brothers who invented it. The script is an adaptation of a graphic novel written by Alan Moore - one of the most recognised artists in the comic book business. His works, including the much-admired Watchmen, Swamp Thing, League of the Extraordinary Gentlemen and Promethea, focus on the characters’ inner life rather than stunning fight scenes. It is serious post-modern stuff, heavy with literary allusions and sharp references to current issues. In fact, V for Vendetta is Moore’s view of the gloomy English society of the 1980’s, ruled by the ever charming but tough-as-nails Margaret Thatcher.

It is worth mentioning that Moore has every reason not to be impressed with the adaptations of his books made so far. In 2001 From Hell which was his version of Jack the Ripper’s story turned out to be a major disappointment. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, starring old rogue Sean Connery and a few others fairly talented actors, was… well, something you may have accidentally stepped in while walking your dog in a park. Having read the script for V for Vendetta, Moore simply refused to be in any way associated with this project or to accept any due royalties. Knowing Mr Moore to be a bright sort of man, I am afraid that the Wachowski brother’s latest dish may be quite inedible.  

Wojciech Wojtasiak

stew – gulasz, potrawka
to devour – pochłaniać, pożerać
gnostic- gnostyczny
to withstand – wytrzymywać, stawiać opór
bland - mdły
give somebody the credit – uznać czyjeś zasługi
militia – milicja, jednostki ochotnicze
predecessor - poprzednik
surveillance- inwigilacja
ubiquitous – wrzechobecny
villain – łotr, czarny charakter
to slash – ciąć (nożem, brzytwą)
to see through – przejrzeć
concealed - ukryty
inner life- życie wewnętrzne
post-modern – postmodernistyczny
tough-as-nails – (o człowieku) bardzo twardy
rogue – łobuz
royalties - honoraria autorskie

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