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V for Vendetta is a dystopian political action film directed by James McTeigue and based on a screenplay by the Wachowskis. It was released in 2005. It is based on Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s limited series of the same name published by DC Comics in 1988. The film is set in an alternate future in which the United Kingdom has been controlled by a Nordic supremacist and neo-fascist totalitarian regime. It revolves around V (Hugo Weaving), an anarchist and disguised freedom warrior who wants to spark a revolution by staging complex terrorist attacks, and Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman), a young working-class lady who becomes entangled in V’s objective. Stephen Rea plays a detective on a last-ditch attempt to stop V.
V for Vendetta, produced by Silver Pictures, Virtual Studios, and Anarchos Productions Inc., was set to be released by Warner Bros. Pictures on November 4, 2005 (a day before the 400th Guy Fawkes Night), but was postponed; instead, it was released on March 17, 2006, to mostly positive critical reviews and a box office success. However, Alan Moore declined to view the film and demanded not to be acknowledged or given royalties after being disappointed with the cinematic adaptations of his previous books, From Hell (2001) and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003).
Many political parties have viewed V for Vendetta as a metaphor of government tyranny, and anarchists have used it to promote their ideals. “The Guy Fawkes mask has now become a widespread brand and an easy placard to use in protest against tyranny ” and I’m glad with people adopting it because it appears pretty distinctive, a symbol of popular culture being used this way,” David Lloyd said.
The Gunpowder Plot is V’s historical inspiration in V for Vendetta, which influences his time, vocabulary, and look. The names Rookwood, Percy, and Keyes, for example, are featured in the film and are also the names of three Gunpowder conspirators. By establishing clear similarities between V and Edmond Dantès, the film makes parallels to Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo. (In both stories, the hero escapes an unfair and terrible incarceration and prepares for vengeance on his oppressors under a new guise for decades.)
Through V’s dialogue and the lack of a background, identity, or face, the film makes it clear that V is the embodiment of a concept rather than a human. The official website claims that “The story’s usage of V’s Guy Fawkes mask and persona serves as both a practical and symbolic aspect. He wears the mask to conceal his physical wounds, but in doing so, he transforms into the concept itself.”
Several critics and commentators have pointed out that the film’s premise and aesthetic are reminiscent of Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera. Both V and the Phantom wear masks to hide their disfigurements, use their imaginations to dominate others, have terrible pasts, and are driven by vengeance. The Phantom of the Opera’s masked Phantom takes Christine Daaé to his subterranean lair to re-educate her, and V and Evey’s relationship echoes many of the romantic components of that film.
V for Vendetta, being a film about the conflict between freedom and the state, borrows images from a number of historical and fictional authoritarian symbols, including the Third Reich, Stalin’s Soviet Union, and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. For example, Adam Sutler is frequently depicted on huge TV screens and portraits in people’s homes, both of which are ubiquitous elements of current totalitarian governments and evocative of Big Brother’s image.
There’s also the state’s use of mass surveillance on its population, such as closed–circuit video, which is reminiscent of the widespread mass surveillance systems in use today in many countries. The name Adam Sutler is meant to sound like Adolf Hitler. Sutler, like the so-called Führer, is prone to hyperbolic speech. Sutler, like Hitler, is a racial purist, however the focus of Norsefire ethnoreligious indoctrination and persecution has shifted from Jews to Arabs and Muslims.
Valerie was imprisoned for lesbianism and subsequently subjected to medical experimentation, eerily similar to the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.