By Ryan Keating-Lambert
OK, dear readers. I’m on my balcony drinking wine again, so naturally it’s time for more of that personal word vomit. So, this feels like an age ago now. Before I was influenced by Aronofsky, Polanski, Tarkovsky and other directors whose surnames end in ‘ski’, I was a teenager obsessed with V for Vendetta.
Disclaimer: this is going to be a very subjective look at the film directed by James McTeigue (what kind of a surname is that by the way?) with a screenplay by the phenomenal Wachowski’s (The Matrix, Cloud Atlas). I’m not going to talk about the graphic novel by Alan Moore on which this film is based (comic book nerds and haters, feel free to stop reading now). I read the novel after I’d seen the film, and despite it being a great read, it was the film that I experienced first, and the film that subjected little Ryan to a lot of changes.
I saw Vendetta in Brisbane when I was about 19 and surprisingly, it hadn’t been on my list of things to see at the time. Once I learnt however that the Wachowski’s, who were still brothers back then, were behind the screenplay, I thought why not? Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the films that you go in knowing next to nothing about that end up making a lasting impact, and this was one of them.
So this tale begins with a receding hairline. As a teenager I was losing my hair. By the age of 17, I looked like Benjamin Button, but when he was in the early stages. Specifically, the old man / fetus stage. As you can imagine, this wasn’t much fun during school. I managed to hide it well though (thank god for hats), almost as well as I managed to hide my homosexuality. There were probably countless coming-of-age / coming-out-of-the-closet films around at the time but none of them were any good, nor did I ever really have an opportunity to see any of them, and for most teenagers, it’s these kinds of films that leave a mark.
Natalie Portman’s ‘Evey’ was the strong and empowering character that I needed at the time. I was actually able to relate to her, not that I was living in a totalitarian society, but you get my drift. I was young, naive and clearly didn’t know what to do with myself. It was the ‘God is in the rain’ scene with that gorgeous accompanying soundtrack by Dario Marianelli that blew me away and made me think about my secret gayness. It was a scene that played over and over in my head long after I’d left the cinema. I’ve always been obsessed with moments of rebirth and change in characters, and this left me speechless.
So about a month later, I shaved my head in my friend’s bathroom sink (thanks, Joal), and reenacted the rain scene, without the ‘god is in the rain’ line, because that would be taking it too far, and this article is already cheesy as fuck *sips wine*. It also wasn’t raining at the time so I conveniently used the shower. Poetic? Maybe not. Liberating? Absolutely. Everyone should shave their head at least once in their life. It’s an indescribable feeling that first time. It was then that I finally had the confidence to come out and it obviously changed my life for the better. I was finally comfortable in my own skin, and was also finally ready to blow up the houses of parliament… just kidding.
The film’s not so subtle messages of rebellion and uprising also left a mark on me though. I became politically active and even started writing and producing news packages for the lovable Brisbane community radio station 4ZzZfm. Even though I mainly write about film these days, I will never be able to shake my love for hard news. Come to think of it, this film is probably even more appropriate today.
When I finally moved to London three years later, I was lucky enough to witness an gallery exhibition where Vendetta’s graphic novel illustrator David Lloyd was recreating his work live… on the 5th of November, which is actually celebrated in the UK as ‘Guy Fawkes Day’ or ‘Bonfire Night’. I’m saying this because I had no idea that it was celebrated at all before I moved to London.
The day before the exhibition I’d managed to buy the mask from my local nerd store in Soho, so my ex and I got drunk and wore it on the underground, terrorising people with our Hugo Weaving impressions. This was before the rise of ‘Anonymous’ but looking back on it now, I’m surprised that we weren’t arrested. Thank you, people of the Central Line for humouring us.
The film has since stuck with me and I now try to watch it every November the 5th, as should you. It’s even affected me on a financial level – oh so much merchandise. Thank you, Comics Point… and thank you readers for putting up with another late night wine ramble.
That’s all from me for now. The bottle of red is now empty so it’s time to say goodbye. I’m intending to write more pieces like this and would love to hear your opinions. Let me know.
Photo: Roger Ebert