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Narrating Violence in Post-9/11 Action Cinema - Terrorist Narratives, Cinematic Narration, and Referentiality

Narrating Violence in Post-9/11 Action Cinema - Terrorist Narratives, Cinematic Narration, and Referentiality

Berenike Jung


Verlag VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften (GWV), 2010

ISBN 9783531926025 , 130 Seiten

Format PDF, OL

Kopierschutz Wasserzeichen


53,49 EUR

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Narrating Violence in Post-9/11 Action Cinema - Terrorist Narratives, Cinematic Narration, and Referentiality


2 The Films (S. 24-25)

2.1 Narrating Violence in V for Vendetta

In V for Vendetta’s narrative, a fascist government oppresses its citizens, imposes the death penalty on owners of the Koran, and sends homosexuals to death camps. The film’s hero, who calls himself V, galvanizes the government by bombing the Old Bailey building. Hijacking the state’s emergency channel, V threatens to blow up the Houses of Parliament exactly a year later. V urges his fellow citizens to rise up against the oppressive government. In the meantime, V, a man deformed by fire and medical experiments who always appears in a Guy Fawkes mask, hunts down those responsible for his personal tragic history. A young woman, Evey, is unwittingly embroiled in V’s plot. He initially rescues and protects, then tortures her.

They fall in love. In a last attack, V commits suicide; Evey carries on his project and blows up the Houses of Parliament. Directed by James McTeigue and produced by the Wachowski/Matrix brothers, V for Vendetta was released in 2005. The story is loosely based on a 1982/83 graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd (writer and illustrator respectively). Originally set in 1997, V was an anarchist hero fighting a fascist regime that the authors projected as the future of Thatcherite England.

The film garnered large exposure worldwide and was reasonably successful at the U.S. box-office. The first chapter (2.1.1) will inspect the cultural formula and ethical frameworks used to legitimize the various forms of violence in V for Vendetta. The second chapter (2.1.2) proceeds to examine its cinematic narration, focussing on the visualization of torture and terrorist violence – particularly its relation to the spectacular mode –, and audience engagement. The final chapter (2.1.3) shows how this film can be read as reacting to 9/11 and engaging with post-9/11 politics and narrative challenges. Self-reflexive elements in particular point to the role of the media vis-à-vis terrorism and react to criticism leveled against cinema.

2.1.1 Types of Violence

In the movie, three types of violence, prominently featured, frame the use of terrorist violence. As referred to in the film’s title, the hero conducts a personal vendetta, which is justified in ways that resemble the Western myth of the vigilante. The hero V equally aims to incite an uprising to overturn the fascist totalitarian regime. To this end he is willing to employ illegal methods such as terrorism. Side by side with V’s terrorist activity, there is political terror by the state forces.

Therefore, the concepts of tyrannicide and Just Revolution provide an interesting comparative framework to evaluate his terrorist activity: As the film raises ethical questions, an ethical theory – Just War Theory – helps to study these justifications. The third prominently featured form of violence is torture. The use of referential imagery in this scene and the significance and meaning that is attached to torture encourage a political reading and audience engagement with contemporary politics.