James McTeigue throughout the film V for Vendetta cleverly utilizes audio techniques, post production techniques and hints of mis en scene in order to present how the main character ‘V’ is more than just a heroic figure seeking revenge, but represents a brilliant idea that is capable of injecting itself within the citizens of London causing a string of events to take place, bringing his ultimate plan to life and allowing him to single-handedly abolish the totalitarian regime that has overthrown London at the time, and furthermore is an idea that long transcends the revolution and his own physical life to create a better world. There are two main scenes within the film that clearly present this notion in different ways and ultimately together lead to presenting James Mcteigues intention as a whole in showing the strength of a single idea and how in the right hands can allow anything to be possible. these scenes are the ‘domino montage scene’ and the ‘final fight sequence scene’.
within the ‘domino montage scene’ McTeigue uses montage, diegetic and non diegetic sound in order present the coming together of V’s master plan as we whiteness V becoming more than just a physical being but transforming into an idea and an image of strength and unity that rapidly spreads amongst the citizens of London with the planned revolution being the following day. The first shot in the scene is a close up of V placing down a domino, the silence of this first shot and the diegetic click of the domino as its placed on the floor gives a ‘calm before the storm’ type feeling, it is an important shot as it sets up the premise for the entire scene to use the domino’s as a way to present the deeper underlying intentions of the director. The placement of this domino is like the gunshot in a running race and from this point the montage sequence takes off. the next sequence of shots we see are of postal trucks delivering packages to the houses of familiar characters such as inspector finch and the young girl, at this point a dramatic slow building score is used to create further anticipation in the audience for the reveal of what is in these packages, knowingly being apart of Vs plan and an asset to the revolution. inspector finch opens a package as the non diegetic music spikes revealing it is a mask and wig identical to V’s, this creates excitement in the audience as we begin to see vs plan commencing and he as a figure of hope spreading. we are then taken back to another closeup of the domino’s to see more have been added to the chain, this juxtaposing of images through montage creates a link for the audience between the domino’s and the spread of anything to do with v and his plan, presenting the domino’s a visual metaphor for not only the increasing public eye on v but the ideas he carry’s for the future of London. When the citizens wear the mask they are empowered by his ideas and apart of a group of unified people standing side by side for there country. the score returns to an anticipating build and increases in tempo alongside the montage as it becomes faster paced with more frequent cuts to help portray the increasing chaos as vs idea spreads and his plan comes together. the next segment of the montage shows images of the head of the totalitarian regime (the chancellor) becoming more stressed and on edge with the growing movement, images of corner stores being robbed alongside further diegetic sounds that indicate chaos (ringing phones, yelling, gunshots ect). dialogue from inspector finches partner: “were under siege, the whole city’s gone mad”, and inspector finch: “this is exactly what he wants” confirms to the audience that the citizens of London are becoming empowered with vs ideas and rebellion against the laws and strict ways of the regime has taken full effect. At this point, even this early in the scene it begins to become clear the mass scale in which the the Idea V has brought forth to the citizens of london has taken off and therefor already beginning to shine light on the directors intention of presenting the sheer strength of a great idea. after inspector finch says “this is exactly what he wants” the montage seamlessly cuts to the robbery where the masked robber wearing a V mask yells “anarchy in the uk!”. this dialouge is derived from the 1977 song released by the famous English punk rock band the Sex Pistols who were known for commonly going against the societal expectations that were present in England at this time, they spoke to the youth of England, advocating free speech and provided inspiration and helped shape the next generation of England into a less conservative era. The sex pistols had strong anti establishing attitudes and alongside many of the citizens – alike the citizens within the film – were fed up with the royalty running the country. this piece of dialogue adds further depth to this montage sequence and creates a link between the chaos within England the sex pistols created with the chaos that is being created by v and how it is used to manifest new better ideas and ways of thinking into the country that long proceed both these societal figures fame or lives. The juxtaposing of dominoes is then seen again as we see the chain of dominoes has gotten much larger, presenting as the chaos and anarchy grows V’s idea spreads further which gives more support to presenting the power an idea has over a society, this idea is pushing them to chaos but in an act of unity the citizens are fighting to make the idea come true, even if it means risking there own lives. Inspector finch then continues to speak after announcing that he visited larkhill (a facility where they did chemical tests on people and v was one of the member’s). “I had to see it. There wasn’t much left. But when I was there it was strange. I suddenly had this feeling that everything was connected. It’s like I could see the whole thing, one long chain of events that stretched all the way back before Larkhill. I felt like I could see everything that happened, and everything that is going to happen. It was like a perfect pattern, laid out in front of me. And I realised we’re all part of it, and all trapped by it.” alongside this dialogue the montaged images shown cut on screen with a faster pace showing only short snippets of images from the events prior, during and after the revolution, some of these shots are familiar while others foreshadow events to come we have not yet seen (some of which are the final fight sequence which gives a direct link between these scenes and there underlying themes of presenting the strenght of an idea), because of this as an audience member we are drawn in by this scene and it gives us the feeling that we alongside inspector finch have finally understood that V is more than just a revenge seeking figure but carry’s a far deeper notion as we see all the pieces of the puzzle come together. repeated shots of the domino’s are deliberately scattered amongst the fast paced montage again, most obviously when finch says: “like one long chain of events” and “like a perfect pattern laid out in front of me” relating them this time more obviously with, and with literal intent to the spread of V’s idea amongst society making the metaphor very apparent to the audience and strengthening the emotional effect the domino’s have on the audience. This moment also shows the realization of a single individual about the grand ‘idea’, presenting on a more personal scale the effect an idea can have on someone and the power it can have over their perception of everything and its ability to inject clarity into their lives. Alongside the dialogue and montage the tempo of the score at this point becomes very effective as mctigue has chosen for it to run at 60bpm – the same as a clock – this gives the scene a very unnoticable yet powerfull way of creating the sense of time passing. This technique only became apparent to me as the music spiked as the london clock tower in the scene hit 12 and the bells rung. using clocks to present the passing of time and to create angst within the audience has been used in film many times however in this case it is very smartly done and uses this technique in a non cliche fashion that ultimately gives the audience a further sense of excitement for the revolution and for V’s plan to come together, it helps to further encapsulate the audience by Vs idea and by this point in the scene we are rooting for him, the idea has taken control of us and made us far more involved with the happenings of the film which further presents the directors intention of the streaght of an idea, even fictional ones presented elegantly take a hold of our emotions – we want a better would for these citizens. “all V needs to do is keep his word, and then” This final piece of dialouge from finch leaves the audience hanging cutting directly to a shot of the domino’s to allow the remaining of the montage to visually present what finch would have otherwise said with dialogue. There is a short moment of silence where only the diegetic sound of V’s rubber gloves stretching can be heard creating a final moment of anticipation for the audience before V flicks the first domino. as the domino’s fall there non diegetic sound has been enhanced and overlayed with diegetic sounds of yelling to give a sense of screaming and presenting furthermore utter chaos. As the ‘domino effect’ takes place the montage continues however this time real life footage of the Briton riots is cut between shots of the falling dominos. By using real footage of these past events within england it presents how in the past ideas similar to V’s that fight for human rights and privileges have taken over communities and societies to bring them together and stand up for their future, weather the riots were successful or not they presented what the director wanted which is the streaght and unity an idea creates and its natural habit of spreading and spreading until something happens to bring it to life. By overlaying these shots with the domino’s it gave the scene a final victorious moment that portrayed the sense of this idea engulfing the entire country plummeting it into chaos and gave the audience riveting excitement for the chaos and destruction of the government controlling London to come. Because mctigue built such a strong metaphorical and literal relationship between the domino’s and the audio and other montaged footage, using the domino’s as a way to complete the scene was possible and created a very engaging effect that allowed the audience to not just be told the streaghth of vs idea and what beholds for the future of London but to feel it and be apart of it and engaged by it, to really fully understand how much power a single idea can have over a person and a community in bringing all the pieces together and be able to stand up and fight for the idea.
as a continuation of the previous scene the fight sequence builds upon the intention of the director in presenting the strength of an idea, this time through the use of visual effects, editing, dietetic and non dietetic sound and some mise en scene, in order to show how the prospect of this idea has completely taken over V to the point where V becomes completely and utterly obsessed by the idea and the task of making it come true. The first series of shots show the chancellor speaking to the citizens of London through televisions. For the first collection of shots his face takes up the entire frame continuing his presence of dominance that has been evident through the rest of the film, the shots then cut to wide angle showing noone is watching the television nor in their houses past the curfew by law time restriction that is placed on all citizens, the shots are high angle and instead now present him instead in a place of inferiority on a small television with noone watching or listening, which initially shows how this idea has stripped the chancellour from all his power and control – placing it in the hands of the citizens – and also setting up the premise for this scene to further communicate the power of an idea and other areas in which the idea has shown its supremacy. the scene now cuts to an underground dingy area. the next series of shots solidifies the point of the chancellor now being powerless after being captured by his associate kreedy and brought to V to be killed. Diegetic sound of him whimpering is heard as he kneels beneath V, the figure who brought forth the idea that has torn him from his throne. mis en scene frames the next shot of the chancellor at an extreme high angle and kreedy at an extreme low angle as the diegetic sound of the chancellors whimpering and crying increases before kreedy says “disgusting” and shoots him in the head, this moment shows the chancellour going from the most powerfull to the most powerless position and shows how a great idea has the ability to bring down anyone that stands in its way no matter their statue – no person has more strength than an idea and on that notion the scene has a perfect starting point in order to build upon and further present the power of an idea when faced against people standing in its way. The shots from the get go within this scene (as seen by the extreme low and high angle shots of kreedy and the chancellour) are very excentuated and somewhat stylized giving a more intensified reaction from the audience in all cases and so engaging them more within this very important scene. It also more than any other scenes in the film really presents an essence of the films derived style and framing from the original graphic novel and by portraying this comic book type feel it creates a “ final showdown” type atmosphere and style that ultimately as the scene progresses helps to portray V as a superhero type being that has been so engulfed by the idea he is able to complete abnormal tasks that do not seem humanly possible in the fight to bring the idea to life. there is a moment of slight slow motion placed on the shot of the chancellor as he falls with a bullet hole in his head in order to further dramatize this moment that symbolizes the beginning of the end of the regime as V’s idea comes to life. Kreedy and V from this point are presented in a somewhat comical stand off sequence that again brings forth the graphic novel origins of this film, V is framed off center in a dirty/ots shot where kreedy and his guards can be seen surrounding him – although doubt lingers within the audience for V at this point, it is surpassed by a large certainty v will be successful in defeating kreedy and his guards because of the audiences pre conceived beliefs about an ideas ability to do extraordinary things from the previous domino scene where its its ability to plummet a country to chaos was seen, weather consciously or not the audience has complete faith in V and The idea he holds showing how this idea has furthermore insisted itself into us as audience members and that we have all faith in its ability and its power in allowing v to complete a seemingly impossible task (killing greedy and all his guards armed with guns while all he has is knives), and further presenting the power of an idea.
“Whatchya gonna do, huh? We’ve swept this place. You’ve got nothing. Nothing but your bloody knives and your fancy karate gimmicks. We have guns. “
“No, what you have are bullets, and the hope that when your guns are empty I’m no longer be standing, because if I am you’ll all be dead before you’ve reloaded.”
“That’s impossible. Kill him.”
- This piece of dialouge further presents Vs streanght and power insisted by the idea that is within him, nothing kreedy can say will make him stand down at this point.
- From here kreedy alongside all the gaurds begin to fire their guns, the non diegetic sound of the guns firing overwhelmes the scene and alongside slowmotion creates a dramatic moment as V is seemingly torn to pieces by the bullets and for a moment as an audience member we worry for v.
- As the guns stop firing the juxtaposed silence prior to the guns firing creates a moment of suspense, we hear a very quite muffled sound of breathing from v adding further suspense, will he fall or will he rise?
- V then slowly stands tall again in a very comical theatrical way and the scene cuts to a close up as he says “ my turn” – From here again the audience regains confidence for V – we have seen he has withstanded all kreedy and the gaurds could do to him and at this point he is in complete power – ready to defeat all standing in the way of the idea coming true.
- V then pulls 2 knifes from his belt as the scene shifts to slow motion throwing them perfectly as they catapult into two of the guards either side kreedy sending them flying and sliding in the mud behind them, this exxageration of the power in which Vs knifes killed the guards alongside added visual effects of trails behind the knives presents the power V holds and the unreal abilities he is capable of in the final moments of bringing his idea to life.
- The score within the scene up untill this point has been very unoticable but when the knifes hit the guards it returns in full force, being a somewhat more thatrical score with a faster beat that could be closely compared to the soundtrack of pirates of the caribbean.
- The combination of the punch line dialouge “my turn” the sudden escalation in the score and use of slomotion and fvx knife trails in exaggerating the deaths of the guards creates intense excitement within the audience – Vs power derived from his idea is very obviously evident.
- From here the scene continues in slow motion showing V moving from one gaurd to the next elaborately and theatrically dancing his way around killing them off one by one in time with the films score “A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having”. The scene throughout the entire fight continues to use bazzar comical type compositions such as birds eye view, seeing through the barrel of the gun and interesting angles in order to continue the superhero comical style that presents V in a state of absolute controll and power. The vfx of his knife trails and accentuated squirts of blood as he kills the guards gives a further impression of his actions and abilities being somewhat superhuman. The non diegetic sound of the knifes swooshing, clicking and stabbing into flesh while all the other sounds have beein reduced an muffled presents even further the power he holds within this scene and the overwhelming streaghth he contains. The combination of all these techniques as V fights further increases our understanding of the streanghth of an idea as we see V no longer performing within the reaches of an average human – this sequence shows v as a tool of the idea itself and it has taken controll over him and created so much obsession within him that he has gotten to the point where he is able to perform outside the reaches of a normal human in order to make it come true. With the directors intention becoming very clear to the audience it creates absolute certainty he will sucseed in his task as the power and drive from the idea that has taken over him is so obviously unstopable. Because of this the audience throughout this scene instead of being shocked or unerved by the act of killing instead it seems graceful, with an idea present that has such pure intentions means even the act of killing can seem beautiful when it means creating freedom and justice. Every person killed in this scene is another step towards a better world for the citizens, when looked at like this the scene has a direct correlation to the domino montage scene and the inclusion of moments from this scene in the montage alongside the dominoes presents the further use of dominos in the previous scene as a metaphore for the people standing in Vs and the ideas way, every domino falling is a step towards a better world, a graceful collapse of everyone in Vs way to make his idea come true. The scene returns to normal speed as V clambers towards kreedy “die, die, why won’t you die!” Kreedy fires multiple more rounds into V. at this point V replys with a final piece of dialouge for the scene “Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof” essentially literally saying what the director had been portraying all throughout the scenes covered and by doing this successfully implanting this moral within the brains of the audience and very effectively communicating his underlying intentions to the audience. In these final moments the audience feels triumphant alongside v, the emotional journey the director took the audience on in presenting this idea makes its reveal alongside its success so much more satisfying. As V strangles kreedy the non diegetic sound of his neck cracking is even somewhat satisfying and relieving to the audience, like the final move in an elaborate dance or the fall of the last domino in a domino effect, it signifies the completion of making vs idea come true.
great ideas are shifted through generations from people to people, they have a sense of presence and power over people and in some cases when these ideas fall intot he right hands it can mean all the pieces of the puzzle fcome together in the ultimate predicimant of creating awarness and acceptance of an idea on a mass scale, as it did with v. while some of the acts performed by V seem far fetched and unrealistic, people in the past have been overcome with amazing ideas that brought out unprecedented determination and drive to bring them to life. (examples). As shown by james mctigue within the ‘domino montage scene’ and the ‘final fight scene’ of v for vendetta, through the use of a variety of visual and audio cinamatography techniques, ideas are one of the strongest things that exist, they can create mayhem within societys and also unity, death, love and life, without ideas there would be no passion, change or variety within our world, we constantly need new ideas to improve and grow – weather it be abolish