Even though reclusive, hirsute author Alan Moore has been adamantly opposed to any mainstream re-thinking of his texts, he hasn’t been opposed to selling the rights. Moore, a famous crank and brilliant graphic novelist, cited Stephen Norrington’s godawful “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” as the reason he would never lend his name to another Hollywood adaptation of one of his works, and it’s been something of a bumpy road since. He also decried the Hughes Brothers‘ gory adaptation of his Jack the Ripper comic, “From Hell,” although that film holds up better than it should when viewed today. As for “Watchmen,” it’s a text held in near-religious reverence by many fanboys, and Zack Snyder’s slavish devotion to the source material didn’t always work to the film’s benefit (though he’ll get another crack in TV series form if his talks with HBO pan out).
One Moore adaptation that doesn’t enter into the conversation nearly as much as “Watchmen” is “V for Vendetta,” a furious political screed adapted by the Wachowskis, directed by James McTeigue (a first assistant director on the “The Matrix” films who made his feature debut here), and producer Joel Silver. The resulting film is bumpy and didactic, but not without its occasional flashes of brilliance or the odd compelling passage. In a new edition of Cinefix’s “What’s the Difference?” the viewer is invited to see where the filmmakers deviated from Moore’s source material, and where they were perhaps too faithful to it.
The hectic climax of “V For Vendetta,” for instance, is totally different than the one in Moore’s book, and while the original ‘Vendetta’ was written specifically in response to the administration of former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the film adaptation is a pointed and sometimes rather obvious indictment of the Big Brother-style government of George W. Bush (the Patriot Act, the War on Terror, etc.). Other conspicuous disparities include the differing portrayal of the corrupt news media in both the book in the film, and also the layers of humanity in the story’s villains that are almost totally absent in McTeigue’s film.
I do not include myself as a fan of “V for Vendtta,” personally — I didn’t care much for it when I first saw it back in 2005, and I’ve re-visited it since, only to have it leave me cold again. But like many of Moore’s cinematic adaptations, the movie has its fans, and they’ll find lots to dig into here. Check out the video below.