V for Vendetta and Authors' Egos

Regrettably, I have never read V FOR VENDETTA. It is now on my short list of Stuff I Must Read Yesterday.

I thought it was a good movie in the way that movies should be good - exciting, a few plot twists I didn't see coming, characters of dimension and thought-provoking as well as emotional. I have no idea if it's anything like the graphic novel, but I enjoyed the hell out of it, and I'm surprised it's not causing more controversy, given its themes.

The episodic nature of a graphic novel shows a little, in a segmented structure that nevertheless works very well. Many have slammed it for being too much of an action film, when the novel is one of ideas and philosophy. However, being an aficionado of action films, I'd say it's actually rather light on the action. V only really gets his game on two or three times, and the scenes are brief.

What can you say about a movie in which you begin by thinking the "hero" is an official loon, and end by cheering on his lunacy? This is BEAUTY AND THE BEAST crossed with 1984, and the combination is more effective than I thought possible. The only point where I found it unrealistic is... I can't tell you. It would spoil it for you. Suffice to say Evey (Natalie Portman) is a far more forgiving woman than I am.

I did note that Alan Moore's name did not appear anywhere. Since he's the novel's author, I did a little snooping. I thought perhaps Moore had had a falling out with them over some change made to the story to put it in the movies, or maybe they declined to pay him what he was owed. Something reasonable.

It seems Moore, who severed his relationship with DC Comics years ago, wanted nothing to do with the movie. But on a publicity tour, producer Joel Silver gave the usual line to reporters about how he was looking forward to meeting with Moore and discussing the movie with him. This was clearly the usual bullshit Hollywood people feed the entertainment press: "This is the finest cast and crew I've ever had the pleasure of working with." But Moore demanded a public retraction, since he'd made it clear he wanted nothing to do with it. Silver would not retract, so Moore insisted his name be removed from the movie.

You know, I have the utmost respect for brilliant writers like Harlan Ellison and Alan Moore. But it's hard to maintain that respect when they act like spoiled children. You can't bitch about how Hollywood butchers your movie when you refuse to have anything to do with it or even speak to the people doing it. Be a snob and eschew Hollywood if you wish, but don't throw tantrums. Personally, if Hollywood ever went for one of my books (insert laugh track), I'd not only want a say in how they did it, I'd insist on being in it. Nonspeaking, if the union requires. Third corpse from the right, that's me. Just give me my close-up, Mr. DeMille. Look, Ma, I'm in the movies!

Moore's original beef with DC, by the way, is that his contract says he only gets the rights to V FOR VENDETTA or WATCHMEN when they go out of print, and DC's never going to let them out of print, so he cries foul. Well, if he were anyone else, I'd say read the damn contract. My contracts say the same thing, and they also say how long they can stay in print and define what "in print" means. Don't whine if you didn't negotiate your contract.

I just don't understand these people. Moore may be a better writer than Neil Gaiman (a debatable point, to be sure), but Gaiman treats his readers like human beings and is a class act on the circuit. Harlan Ellison may be a better short-story writer than Stephen King (again, go for the debate) but King is a consummate gentleman in his public appearances and Ellison threatens to tear off the heads of fans who annoy him. No, I'm not exaggerating. I was there.

That said, I keep reading Moore as I eagerly read Harlan Ellison. The man is separate from the work. If I stopped appreciating the art of every sonofabitch who annoyed me, I would never be able to watch another Schwarzenegger movie. And you all know what an action fan I am.