“Governments should be afraid of their people.”
V For Vendetta Plot Synopsis
V for Vendetta is an empowering and well-written dystopian tale, reinforcing that there are strength in numbers and that the strength of many will usurp the minority when backed into a corner. Specifically, our tale takes place in a near-future dystopian Britain.
A virus has ravaged the country, catapulting a tyrannical government into the throngs of power. Ruling through fearmongering and misinformation, a masked vigilante named V sets out to tip the scales back in favour of the everyday man – or woman as the case may be.
His vessel for helping to carry this message stems from Evey, an employee of the TV channel broadcasting the propaganda to the masses.
How does the revolution begin?
Britain is stuck in the grip of the Norsefire Party, led by the maniacal Adam Sutler. Through Sutler’s crazed rants and speeches, he managed to convince the nation to vote for him, winning in a landslide against the Conservative and Labour parties. In doing so, Sutler becomes the High Chancellor. He’s basically a dictator, reinforced through the large monitors we see his face menacingly projected onto when communicating with the puppets in the government.
The wheels of dissent are set into motion one night when Evey slips out after curfew to see her friend – and talkshow host – Gordon Deitrich. She’s stopped by paramilitary officers called Fingermen in the alleyway en-route, who look set to rape her.
Our Guy Fawkes mask-wearing vigilante soon shows and saves her life. He even shows Evey the explosion he’s had planned, as the Old Bailey is blown to smithereens.
Next, V hijacks the television tower itself, courtesy of a suicide vest, and broadcasts a message out to every TV in Britain, urging the public to gather outside the House of Parliament one year from today (November 5th) to protest against the government.
How did Adam Sutler get into power?
Separate to V and Evey, we follow a detective named Finch as he starts to piece together what’s really going on across England, something that occurs naturally while looking into V’s numerous murder suspects.
Finch learns that alongside connections to Larkhill Camp, Sutler organized a whole government conspiracy where the aforementioned virus was manufactured from within, created and released in three key locations across the UK; a tube station, a school and a water treatment plant.
With the death toll rising, Sutler blamed this on a terrorist organization and used this fear to rise in power.
What is Larkhill Resettlement Camp? And how does V escape?
When Evey stays with V, V heads off at night to kill several high-ranking officials, all of whom have connections to Larkhill Resettlement Camp. This is essentially a concentration camp, where horrific experiments took place. As we find out later on in the movie, this ties in with V’s origin, where he was one of many test subjects experimented on and tortured at this awful institution.
These medical experiments resulted in most of the test subjects being killed. At the forefront of this happens to be Dr Delia Surridge, who was involved in producing an artificially-designed hormone injection. “The man in room five” (showcased with a V for the roman numeral during the flashback) survives.
Although this isn’t fully explained in the movie, within the graphic novel V uses fertilizer and solvent to make mustard gas and napalm to plot his escape. Given we know him to be handy with homemade poisons and explosives (something we learn through the different murders to those involved with Larkhill), it makes sense that he’s used this to escape.
V detonates the bomb, escapes his cell and screams to the heavens as he heads out into the night. As a result, Larkhill is closed down and most of the evidence covered up.
Who is Valerie Page?
When Evey is captured by high-ranking officials the same night that Deitrich is taken away and presumably killed, she’s brought to a solitary cell and tortured for information on V. Evey refuses to give him up and in doing so, receives several letters from a woman named Valerie Page; her autobiography scribbled down on rolls of toilet paper. Over the various nights, Evey reads the notes by the thin sliver of light out her window.
Through her, we learn of the world slowly being changed and how words like “difficult” changed to be perceived as much more dangerous. Unfortunately, as a homosexual she’s tortured and eventually killed. Just prior to her dying though, we learn of her love of botany and flowers – something that V also leaves at the crime scenes of his victims. It turns out V is honouring her memory through doing this, passing along her message of hope and rebellion.
It’s around this point that we find out that Evey wasn’t captured by the government after all. It was actually V and he did this to encourage her to break free and confront her fears. He wanted her to push past this and no longer be afraid of death. Only then can one truly be free.
Does Evey pull the lever?
As the film reaches its climax, V distributes thousands of Guy Fawkes masks out to the general public. After a Fingerman shoots a young girl wearing a mask, the people begin to rebel. The public march in the streets wearing those masks, making it to the houses of parliament. The soldiers are worried and are eventually ordered to stand down by the general, given there are far too many people. It would be a bloodbath if they opened fire.
This is showcased through the toppling of dominoes scene just prior to this, where it’s reinforced that the actions of one individual can have a ripple effect on thousands, creating a wave of change.
At the forefront of that change is Evey, who finds herself with the big decision over pulling the train lever and detonating the houses of parliament or not. The carriage is all rigged and ready to go and it’s up to her to make that decision. As we see later on in the movie, she does just this but not without suffering a great loss.
Does V die?
While Evey is at the underground tube station, V heads off and and meets Creedy, the Horsefire Party’s leader. Given how Creedy has been treated with disdain by Sutler, it comes as no surprise to find V use this to his advantage.
v promises his own surrender in exchange for killing Sutler. Creedy shoots the leader in the head, and then uses his own bulletproof vest to thwart numerous shots from Creedy’s men and best them all.
After choking out Creedy, it’s revealed that the vest wasn’t enough to stop some of those bullets and v is badly wounded. Staggering back to Evey, he collapses on the floor and dies. Fittingly, Evey has his body onboard the very train that blows up parliament, surrounding him in red roses.
How does V for Vendetta end?
V for Vendetta ends with big changes afoot for the future of Britain. With Sutler dead, the authorities in chaos and the fate of he country hanging in the valance, the common man is no longer afraid.
As the houses of parliament are blown up, everyone removes their masks and marvel at the spectacular firework display before them. This removal of masks is symbolic for each of the public breaking free from the shackles of their own masks they’ve been holding onto all film long. Of course, this references back to V’s own dialogue earlier on the movie, where he tells Evey that “You wear a mask for so long, you forget who you were beneath it.”
Are the “dead” characters actually in the crowd?
One of the more common questions from this movie stems from the “deceased” characters who show up in the crowd during the big mask removal scene. Valerie is there, as is the young girl shot in the street as well as Gordon Deitrich. Of course, the clue here is that Valerie hasn’t aged a day and we know she died at the hands of these interrogators.
While we don’t actually see Deitrich killed, it’s fair to say that his act of dissent live on national TV is not going to go unpunished by this totalitarian government. Not only that, the young girl is what sparked the big revolution from the crowd in the first place.
Showing these three characters removing their masks is symbolic to show that V is everyone and he’s “all of us”, something Evey tells Finch at the end of the movie when asked who the masked vigilante actually was. In other words, all of these people have helped bring about a brand new future for Britain in their death, with them all serving as iconic martyrs in their own way to break free from this fear-stricken nightmare they were all a part of.
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