Script: Regret

Excerpt from script written for an assignment at Lincoln University.

INT. KITCHEN. DAY.

A MAN (Name TBD) is keeping busy, back to camera, talking to a character who is off screen.

MAN
(Laughing slightly at his own story)
So then Connor said that he’d look into it if he had the time, not knowing that Edward had already done it! And he…

MAN2
(Exasperatedly)
Oh my God, shut up, I already know.

MAN
Sorry?

MAN2
You’ve told me the story before.

MAN
Oh. Sorry. My mind must be going.
(Slight laugh)

 MAN2
Quite a few times, actually.

 MAN
Yeah, alright…

Man continues to work, reaching for some tea. He reaches into his pocket and gets out a stress relief ball and starts squeezing it.

MAN
(Mumbling to himself)

Most people would just smile and nod politely but NOOOO, “My time is precious, stop telling me the same stuff over and over again and shut up.” Not even a simple “Sorry, I think you’ve told me this before.” No “This rings a bell.” Just plain and simple, “Shut up, I don’t give a damn. Stop talking right now and make my damned tea!”! how courteous. How kind. How… how.. expected.

 MAN2
Two sugars.

Man continues to make the drink, his anger more apparent as he slams cupboards and mugs.

MAN
(Still mumbling to himself)
“And of course he’s SO dumb, he won’t be able to remember a simple tea request, I think I’ll remind him! What was that? You DO remember how to make the drink you make for me at least twice a day because I’m too damned lazy? INCREDIBLE! Who knew your tiny mind was capable of such incredible feats!? Do you know how to breathe as well? You do?! MARVELOUS!!”

That’s all I’m revealing for now folks… I may make this into a short film one day!

Landmarks in Film & TV: Beyond Hollywood

Emerging from the great depression of the 1930s, the Hollywood studio system was comprised of eight large film companies. “The Big Five” were RKO, Paramount, MGM, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros.. “The Little Three” were Universal, Columbia and United Artists. The larger studios owned and controlled both production and distribution of their films. Actors were contracted to a studio and their public profiles carefully managed, and any scandals were quickly covered up.

The Studio system produced many stars such as Errol Flynn, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Greta Garbo, Betty Grable, Humphrey Bogart and many more that remain household names, even today. These stars were usually tied to a specific studio, contractually, and not allowed to appear in a film by a rival studio. However, if a good script should come their way they could be “loaned” to that studio for the film. This is known as the Star System.

The Golden Age of Cinema began its decline in the 1940s. The United States government was determined to break up the studios’ monopolies and they introduced the Hays Code, which eventually led to foreign films gaining a foothold. In 1948, the Supreme Court outlawed the practice of block booking, a system of selling multiple films to a theatres as a unit, thus allowing larger studios to include “second rate” productions along with their higher profile productions. It also forced the studios to sell their theatre chains, meaning that theatres were not committed to accepting a whole year’s worth of movies from a studio and studios had to become more competitive and selective in the quality and quantity of movies they produced. The decrease in the number of Hollywood motion pictures meant an increase in production value. “The Little Three” saw most benefit from the move as they, unlike the Big Five, did not own their own theatre chains.

During this time, the studios adhered to the Hays Code, a set of rules and guidelines set up in the 1930s that governed the production of American motion pictures, with specific controls over allowable content. The Hays Code placed restrictions on immorality, including nudity, blasphemy, profanity, and glorified violence. It also required films to portray the sanctity of marriage, fitting punishment for crimes and respectful treatment of the United States national flag. (Although exceptions were made for historical purposes.)

Outside of the ‘movie star’ system, animated films became very popular during the late 1930s which also saw the rise of a certain Walt Disney. By default, as animated films were aimed at a mainly family audience, they easily fell in line with the Hays code. During the 1940s, four of the five top grossing films for the decade were Disney films: Bambi (1942, Dir. Dave Hand, US), Pinocchio (1940, Dir. Norman Ferguson, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, Ben Sharpsteen, US), Song of the South (1946, Dir Harve Foster, Wilfred Jackson, US) and Fantasia (1940 Dir. Norm Ferguson, US). Interestingly, Song of the South, though produced by Walt Disney Productions, was released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Animated films continued to do well during the 1950s with Lady and the Tramp (1955, Dir. Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, US) leading the decade’s highest grossing films, closely followed by Peter Pan (1953, Dir. Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, US.), Sleeping Beauty (1959, Dir. Clyde Geronimi, US) and Cinderella (1950, Dir. Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, US.). By the 1960s, the popularity of animated films was also in decline, with notable exceptions of One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961, Dir. Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton S Luske, Wolfgang Reitherman, US.) and The Jungle Book (1967, Dir. Wolfgang Reitherman, US.). This fall in popularity was in line with the decline of the Studio system and for some of the same reasons, most notably the smaller screen – TV.

During the 1950s, televisions were becoming commonplace and people did not have to leave their homes for entertainment. Many studios put clauses in actors’ contracts forbidding them to appear on TV, even to promote their own films, as the film studios saw television as a threat to their business, bringing screen-based entertainment into people’s homes.

However, the studios soon accepted that television was here to stay and that it represented an important new market for their films, one that would be essential to the industry’s survival. Once they realised this, they made some major adjustments. For example, until the advent of colour television, studios sold their old black and white films to TV networks for them to broadcast to the stay-at-home family audience. This practice later continued through to colour films.

The restrictions imposed by the Hays Code did not apply to films from outside the United States, notably ‘spaghetti westerns’ such as The Good the Bad and the Ugly (1966, Dir. Sergio Leone, Italy.) which were hugely popular in the mid-1960s and British films of universal appeal, including the James Bond movies plus various new genres that often had a grittier feel to them, like Alfie (1966, Dir. Lewis Gilbert, UK).

The studios were losing money. They trimmed their lavish spending; they abandoned their expensive ‘movie star’ system, their huge promotional budgets and most of the mediocre films aimed at general audiences.

Instead, they started producing films that were aimed at distinct audiences: more highly educated and affluent people, and especially those below the age of 30. The under-30s soon became the largest audience, accounting for 75% of ticket sales. Though the new audiences were smaller, developing tastes became more sophisticated, demanding films that addressed topics such as social justice, sexual freedom and new levels of violence.

In order to compete with modern foreign films and survive the collapsing system, studios began breaking away from the Hays Code to produce slightly darker and more romanticised films, for example: Bonnie and Clyde (1967, Dir. Arthur Penn, USA) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969, Dir. George Roy Hill, USA) both feature a pair of outlaws who, at the end of the film, die in a shootout. Both films heavily romanticise the plot and characters to make us root for the outlaws, contrary to the Hays Code, causing us to feel sad during their deaths.

Another example of new Hollywood production is The Graduate (1967, Dir. Mike Nichols, USA), a film in which the main character, Benjamin, is seduced by and has sexual relations with Mrs. Robinson, an older woman who is the wife of his father’s business partner (again, contrary to the Hays Code) and then finds himself falling in love with Elaine, Mrs. Robinson’s daughter. The film’s ending is bittersweet with Elaine and Benjamin running off together but implying that they face uncertainty as the reality of the situation kicks in. Also, Midnight Cowboy (1969, Dir. John Schlesinger, USA), a film about a con-man, “Ratso” Rizzo, in poor health, who teams up ‘bro-mance’ style with a male prostitute, Joe, to make enough money to head south to Florida for Rizzo’s health. The film ends with them travelling to Miami but Rizzo passes away before they arrive.

These films are major step from the usual films seen up until this point. Grittier and darker than the upbeat and colourful musicals of the fifties such as Singin’ in the Rain (1952, Dir. Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen, US) and High Society (1956, Dir. Charles Walters, US). However, when we compare the majority of Hollywood’s 1960s films with popular films from outside of the United States at around the same time, we can see that the Hays Code was still having some lingering effect. The Good the Bad and the Ugly (an Italian made film) is noticeably more violent than most of the American films produced at the time, even compared with some Hollywood westerns from the same era, such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Film companies took advantage of new technology in the 1970s, the distribution of films on video (and subsequently DVD) brought in new revenue streams. Additionally, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982, Dir. Steven Spielberg, US.) inadvertently created product placement when the character Elliot uses some Reece’s Pieces to lead E.T. to his room. After the release of the film the sales of Reece’s Pieces rocketed. Studios also took advantage of the popularity of films such as Star Wars (1977, Dir. George Lucas, US.) by releasing toys and merchandise related to the films.

There are still big name stars in Hollywood, but they tend not to be contracted to a single studio although Directors sometimes are, such as Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. or Steven Spielberg and Universal.

Many factors led to the fall of the studio system: the Hays Code limited the filmmakers creative freedom to make the films that they wanted to make and the films that people wanted to see, foreign films unrestricted by the code offered strong competition, the introduction of television also posed a threat as people now had screen related entertainment in the convenience of their own home. The rise in popularity of animated films and Walt Disney also saw other films from other studios lose out to his films, meaning the other studios were making less money. The ‘new Hollywood’ turned around their fortunes by co-operating with other media and finding new revenue streams.

Disney’s films were also aimed at younger audiences, so were more suited to the Hays Code and could deliver their story with fewer compromises.

 

Bibliography

Script Synopsis: Misplaced

The film begins with a black screen. We hear a voice-over (the protagonist, John) informing us that it is just a “normal Monday morning” and that his girlfriend is sick again, before it cuts to a shot of him preparing breakfast. Breakfast seems to be an inedible concoction and it becomes apparent that the character doesn’t know what he is doing and is unable to follow a recipe from the book in front of him.

John then begins searching for something – his glasses. The rest of the film then follows his quest to find his glasses, with the eventual realisation that a zombie outbreak has occurred.

The first shot of the film is a close up of John’s as he prepares his inedible meal. This tells the audience that he has no idea what he is doing due to the absurd collection of ingredients. The shot does well to show us his attempt at cooking, while also not showing his face, thus hiding the fact that he is not wearing glasses until he tells us that he is unsure of what he is doing.

He then starts to look for his glasses, checking his head before, for some reason, checking the cupboard and finally his glasses case. After a short search for his glasses, he heads to the bedroom to ask if his girlfriend has any idea where his glasses are. We get a brief shot of his girlfriend in bed, this shot establishes who he is talking to while also showing us the character and her situation. Upon asking his girlfriend where his glasses might be, he gets no real response but suddenly realises that he might have left them at his place of work.

We then cut to a shot of John walking to work. The shot feels unnecessarily shaky, but soon cuts to a different angle. John then stops to chat to his neighbor, Bob. It is immediately obvious to us that Bob is a zombie, but the near-sighted protagonist remains blissfully unaware as he starts a brief one-sided conversation before walking off. The scene sounds rather muffled due to the wind against the microphone, but all dialogue is still audible.

The next shot is a nice shot of John walking down an empty street, the sun behind him as there is a slight lens flare at the very end of the shot. The use of an empty street does well to establish that things are not as they should be. We then cut to a zombie as John walks past, not even aware of the undead right next to him. He continues walking as we zoom out and pan, an effective shot to keep John in view while also revealing the zombies he is unable to see.

We then cut to a shot of John coming out a lift in his office building as we hear the voice in the lift announce the floor. John walks out of the lift and out of shot as we cut to a door. We can clearly see that the door says “Pull” on it, however, due to his lack of glasses, John attempts to push the door first, unable to get through. It is noteworthy that, despite walking through this door everyday to get to work, John is still unaware of how to open it.

He then enters his office and slips on some paper on the floor. The mess of papers and collapsed chairs, in addition to the flickering lights give us the feeling that something bad has happened while also giving the scene a post-apocalyptic feel.

Once John regains himself, he looks around his desk for his glasses to no avail and heads home without checking the rest of his office. We then cut to outside. A wide shot of John on an empty road as he walks past a group of zombies feasting upon a body. John then drops his keys, the noise alerting the group as they get up to go after him. As the group slowly approaches, John feels around for his keys on the ground and, despite briefly touching them at one point, fails to find them quickly. He finally finds his keys, picks them up and moves on just before the zombies reach him, still unaware, apparently unable to hear the group.

We then cut to a disheartened John as he sits on his sofa in defeat. Once seated John realises that his glasses where there all along and puts them on, laughing at himself. As he leans back, we see his girlfriend. who has now turned into a Zombie. John then slowly turns to look at her as we suddenly cut to black and hear Johns horrified scream. This works to keep up suspense as we don’t know what happens to John, but also helps to save time, effort and money on a scene that would probably include some violence and blood.

We then cut to a shot of John walking around his place of work, a body on the floor reminds us of the trouble. There is some calm music in the background as John talks to us via voice over. We see him say hello to his boss (who is a zombie) and take his laptop. We then cut to black and white as John is walking down a hallway with a final voiceover saying that this was his quest for his glasses during the zombie apocalypse as he then raises his fist in the air in victory as the song quickly changes to a more upbeat song. The black and white of the last shot fits well with the voice over and background music and makes the sudden change to a more upbeat song a humorous surprise ending, making the out-of-place ending fit in quite nicely. The freeze frame ending plays homage to The Breakfast Club (1985, Dir. John Hughes) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969, Dir. George Roy Hill).


The film can be viewed on the showreel page.

Filming: Misplaced

On the First day of filming, the crew met up to get the equipment and head to the filming location. Once we arrived at the location, I helped set up the equipment. We set up the camera and sound while looking over the script and storyboard a few times. One of us then left to meet our actors to show them the way to the location while the rest of us continued to set up.

Once both the actors arrived, the producer prepped them for filming and went over what they had to do. While this was going on, I checked the equipment, making sure everything worked and that you could see and hear what was being filmed. Once everyone was satisfied, we started filming.

The scenes we shot had a few sounds that we wanted to focus on. For example, we wanted the audience to be able to clearly hear the main character cracking eggs on the side of a bowl, or, in a different shot, the shells hitting the bin. The scene had a few things going on, so I needed to get the sound for the main character performing tasks and his voice.

The second day of filming; I met up with the crew on location before the actor arrived to set up and test the equipment for the scene. We shot the scene from multiple angles, hoping to edit them together. As my job was sound, I had to make sure we were able to hear the dialogue in the scene, a task that had a hurdle in the form of the wind. The microphone picked up the sound of the wind, so I had to make sure the actor’s voice was comprehendible.

On the Third day of filming, we all met on location. The scene had the main character walking past zombies as they groaned and ate a person, as well as the main character dropping his keys, all of which produced sounds I needed to capture, I also suggested a few camera angles.

On the fourth day we all met on location once again, we recorded the scenes in which the main character goes into his office to look for his keys as well as the epilogue in which we see that he has come to terms with his situation and adapted to it. In addition to setting up, I recorded sounds such as doors, footsteps, zombie groans, papers, I then went on to help edit the footage.

On the fifth day, I helped edit the footage and we-write a portion of the script for the actor to read as a voice over, which I then directed and recorded. In editing, I was influential in insisting on moving the prologue to the ending as I felt it made more narrative sense, I also came up with the style of the ending.

On the sixth day, I helped finish the editing process, adding in the voice over and some music and the credits while fine tuning what we already had.

Sit-Com Essay

One of the Most successful sitcoms in the early years of TV was I Love Lucy. I Love Lucy was one of the first sitcoms to use a multiple-camera setup, and centered on Lucy Ricardo (Played by Lucille Ball) and her singer/bandleader husband Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz), along with their best friends and landlords Fred Mertz (William Frawley) and Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance). In the second season, Lucy and Ricky have a son named Ricky Ricardo Jr. (“Little Ricky”), whose birth was timed to coincide with Ball’s real-life delivery of her son Desi Arnaz Jr.

Situation Comedies, or “Sitcoms” have been around for decades, even finding inspiration from works from William Shakespeare. However, unlike films that experiment and play around with codes and contentions, sitcoms tend to stick to the same tried and tested formula. Or do they?

Sitcoms all follow a similar basis and I Love Lucy is no exception. The characters are typical for a sitcom, Lucy is naïve and ambitious, with an zeal for stardom and a knack for getting herself and Ricky into trouble. Fred and Ethel, are former vaudevillians and this only strengthens Lucy’s resolve to prove herself as a performer. However, Lucy has few marketable performance skills. She does not seem to be able to carry a tune or play anything other than off-key renditions of some songs on the saxophone, and many of her performances end tragically. However, she is shown to be a good dancer and singer. She is also offered contracts by television or film companies—first in “The Audition” when she replaces an injured clown in Ricky’s act, and later in Hollywood when she dances for a studio benefit using a rubber Ricky dummy as her dancing partner. If we liken this to a more modern sit com such as Friends (1994-2004) we can see some similarities in the premise. In friends, the Character of Joey Tribbiani. Both Joey and Lucy aspire to be successful entertainers but continuously struggle to do so, often for our entertainment.

I Love Lucy is also interesting in its representation; here we have a sitcom in made in the 1950s and yet the two main characters are a woman and a hispanic man (image below). In a time of repression, sexism and racism, it is interesting to note that a sitcom (or any form of media text) could gain such popularity and be accepted into society with such ease.

I Love LucyLucille Ball and her hispanic husband.
The two were married in real life as well as their characters.

Another similarity is the small social group. In I love Lucy, you have a small group of four close friends as the main characters of the show, in Friends, you have a slightly larger group of six close friends, in How I Met Your Mother (2005 – 2014) there’s a group of five friends. This trend occurs in many sit coms.

This begs the question: Do sitcoms follow the same premise? And if so, why?

It certainly seems like they do and It could be argued that they all do so because it’s a tried and tested idea, it’s safe, you know people like it. However, why does no one experiment? Why doesn’t someone write a sit com that breaks away from the norm and doesn’t follow the normal codes and conventions for a sitcom?

It could be argued that the people who make the sitcoms are scared. They just play it safe. They know that the old formula is a popular one and so they use it. Some sitcoms might seem like they are trying out new things, say, for example M*A*S*H (1972 – 1983), which was a sitcom set during the Korean war is different not only in its setting but in that it doesn’t have a laugh track. (When broadcast in the UK), however, the characters all still fit within a sitcom’s codes and conventions. They are silly and larger than life, making their antics more entertaining for us. Scrubs (2001 – 2010) is another example of a sitcom that doesn’t fully follow the general “rules” of a sitcom, in it’s setting (a hospital) and due to the absence of a laugh track (bar one episode in which the main character imagines his life as if it were a sitcom), however, again, the characters in Scrubs have some odd personality traits making them larger than life. Scrubs and Friends also have a will they/won’t they subplot between two of their central characters. How I Met Your Mother spices that up a little by presenting multiple will they/won’t theys to us, while telling us that the main character ends up with another character we’ve not met yet.

But what about British sitcoms? Does the same formula travel across the Atlantic? Not Going Out (2006 – Ongoing) is a British sitcom created and written by and starring stand up comedian Lee Mack. The show is based in London and features the main character, Lee and his will they/won’t they? relationship with his Landlady (and best friend’s sister). Straight away we can see a similarity between Not Going Out and the US Sitcoms in the form of a Will They/Won’t They. It also has characters whose traits are comedically over the top, however, its main cast is noticeably smaller than most US Sitcoms, though this is probably owing to smaller budgets, sets and writing team due to being a British production. However, another similarity all sitcoms seem to share is the fact that most episodes seem to be completely separate from the others. So an episode will start off with everything calm and normal, an event will kick off the main plot for that episode as the characters deal with the problems, before we return to normality, or a new, different equilibrium at the end of the episode. Then, by the next episode, it is as if the problems from the previous week never occurred. (There are the odd exceptions, be it a two parter, or just a reference to a previous episode.) However, this does not mean that the shows just forget what happened. For example, when, in Friends, two characters get married, they are still married the next episode, but they probably won’t talk about all the mishaps that happened at the wedding, however, one single plot point from that episode might carry over, such as a pregnancy.

Although sitcoms all seem to follow the same basic codes and conventions, this doesn’t mean they cannot change at all. Should a studio find that a sitcom is falling in popularity, but not so much so that it should be cancelled, a new character might be introduced to shake things up a little bit and keep the show interesting. However, does this really effect the set up of the show? It could be argued that it does because it throws in a new character to the mix, however, supporting characters are coming and going all the time, and this does not change the show. Furthermore, adding a new character, though changing things up a little, will not change anything major. The characters will still meet in their usual places, their traits will stay the same and the show will follow the same codes and conventions.

FriendsThough none of these shows seem to really break away from the typical set up of a sitcom, each one does bring something unique to the genre. Scrubs and How I Met Your Mother both have narration by one of the characters, but utilise it in different ways. JD from Scrubs just narrates his own life because it’s part of his character, whereas Ted from How I Met Your Mother is telling the story of how he met his wife to his children. Friends, it could be argued, really started the typical set up for all sitcoms to come after it, in that a group of friends meet in a regular place (in this case, a coffee shop, see image above), a set up that is used in later sitcoms such as Rules of Engagement and How I Met Your Mother (see image below).

HIMYMBut on the other hand, two earlier sitcoms, Cheers (1982-1993) and Frasier (1993 – 2004), Frasier being the very successful spin off of Cheers, had a similar set up. Cheers was based entirely in a bar called Cheers set in Boston, MA. So it had all the characters meet and interact in said bar. But then Frasier then had a set up more similar to Friends (Which aired a year after Frasier), in that the main set was Frasier’s apartment, but he did frequent his workplace and a cafe, being similar to Friends’ set up of multiple frequently used sets.

My Family (2000 – 2011) (see image at top of the page) was a British sitcom based on the antics of a middle class British family and, straight away, we can see the codes and conventions of a sitcom. The main cast consists of about six family members (characters came and left throughout the show), all of whom have quirky character traits. The father of the family, Ben, is arguably the lead character of the show, but is interestingly, also probably the most “normal” character. He is a grumpy dentist who just wants peace and quiet. His wife, Susan, is more quirky, she is the world’s worst cook, constantly trying out new hobbies and careers and always meddling in her children’s lives. Nick, their oldest son is dimwitted, clumsy and slow. Also searching for his true calling, he is constantly between jobs. Michael, the youngest son is extremely intelligent, socially inept and, as we find out in a later series, gay.

All of these seem to follow the same codes and conventions in that the characters are all quirky and larger than life, however, what’s interesting this time is that, in the middle of all of this, we have a fairly normal character who is suffering through it all, offering us comedic and realistic reactions to the mayhem around him. This does not mean, however, that Ben is exempt from getting into absurd situations, however it is usually due to the mishaps of his family. The same can be said for Victor Meldrew of One Foot in the Grave (1990 – 2000), Victor is a fairly normal, albeit grumpy, person, but those around him are more quirky and he still manages to get into silly situations, or Richard Bucket from Keeping up Appearances (1990 – 1995). All three sitcoms feature a “straight man” who is just trying to survive the absurd antics happening around him. However, interestingly, all three sitcoms are also British.

The Big Bang Theory (2007 – ongoing) features a group of “Nerds” as the main group, the main characters being Sheldon and his flatmate Leonard. The Big Bang Theory seems to fit into all of the codes and conventions mentioned so far. There are quirky characters, straight characters, regular meeting places for the character, a straight man (Leonard) and a will they/won’t they (Leonard and Penny, who lives across the hall). The Big Bang Theory is also one of, if not the, biggest sitcoms out there today, with one episode gaining 1.22 million viewers for E4. Maybe that is because it combines all of the codes and conventions of a popular sitcom?

It seems that, although sitcoms seem like a rather conservative genre, not straying too far away from the tried an tested formula that has brought success to so many other sitcoms before, they do like to experiment with a few odd things. Be it the narration in Scrubs and How I Met Your Mother, or the different settings of M*A*S*H and Scrubs. It also seems that the genre does change as time goes by, albeit slowly and subtly, to adapt to what’s popular and what works. But then, maybe there’s a reason for the lack of change, maybe if you changed too much, it would no longer feel like a sit com. After all, for a piece of media to fit into a certain genre, it has to meet the codes and conventions of the genre first.

V for Vendetta

Audiovisual Principles and Practices

V for Vendetta is a 2006 action thriller film written and directed by the Wachowskis. It follows the character V and is set in a dystopian London in the late 2020s. After a prolonged conflict, The United Kingdom remains the only stable country but is under fascist regime. Society is heavily oppressed and many “undesirables” (such as homosexuals and muslims) are imprisoned in concentration camps. The film follows V and his fight to overthrow the government and reinstate freedom of speech.

In one scene, V hijacks a television studio and broadcasts a pre-recorded speech to the British public. In this speech, V urges the public to fight back against their oppressive rulers. Throughout the film, V’s goal is to overthrow the current rulers of the country; he sends messages to the government via actions such as blowing up the old bailey, with his intention being to blow up parliament on November the fifth, fulfilling the aim of his hero, Guy Fawkes.

V’s hero is Guy Fawkes; he has modeled his look on his hero.

Sporting an outfit and hairstyle that is very reminiscent of the period. He also wears a Guy Fawkes mask (left image, below), it is originally thought that he does this to protect his identity but it is later revealed that his face is burned and he wears the mask to cover it. However, he also uses the mask as a symbol. Seeing as how it’s a Guy Fawkes mask, it shows his feelings towards the rulers and his intentions. Since the film’s release, the mask has become a symbol of rebellion and freedom, even being used by the “Hacktavist” group Anonymous as a logo, as well as the mask they wear to hide their identities when they’re in public (right image, below).

V for Vendetta Masks

In the scene, V’s footage is of him at a desk, in front of a red curtain. In the lower right hand corner of the screen, there is “V TV”. The “V” is not only his name but, in the way it’s been styled, it is also V’s emblem or symbol. It also takes over the screen once V’s speech ends, being the sole focus of the screen, the Logo itself is red on a black background, making the V more prominent and makes it stand out more.

V speaks with a fairly well-spoken, well-enunciated English accent, arguably bordering on “Posh”, this along with his fairly impressive vocabulary makes his use of the word “Bloke” feel very out of character. However, he is addressing the British public and would probably be trying to connect with them. He even says “I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine – the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke.” (V for Vendetta – 2006), twice in this speech V uses language that could imply that he is trying to build a connection with the public, to make them feel as though he is one of them. When he says “I do, like many of you”, he implies that there is a similarity between himself and those he is addressing, forming a connection between him and his audience. He follows up with “I enjoy them as much as any bloke”, further reemphasising the fact that he’s just like the rest of us, plus, in using the word “bloke”, he is trying to also act like everyone else. It could be argued that this is similar to when people attempt the “Good cop/bad cop routine”, in which the “good cop” tries to befriend and connect with the criminal after “bad cop” has weakened them. In this case, the “Bad cop” would be the “Adam Sutler” V mentioned. Sutler (Played by John Hurt, pictured at the top of the page) is the villain of the film and is the oppressive ruler of Britain. However, in this instance, the good cop and the bad cop are not working together.

V broadcasts his speech to the entire country, hijacking not only homeowners TV sets, but also large screens around London. In the shot that shows V’s speech being shown on the large screen, we can see a message underneath telling the public that a curfew is in effect. In the image below, this shows us that those in charge are strict and that the public don’t have that much freedom in their lives.

V for Vendetta poster

Throughout the scene, we are shown the “audience”, the British public. It ranges from elderly people in a home, to men in a pub and families sitting at home. We are shown that they are stopping what they were doing to pay attention to this speech, this shows us that V’s speech as managed to succeed it gaining the attention of the public. The scene also seems to use angles to gain a point of view feeling. For example, when the speech is being shown on the large screen, we are always looking up at it as if we ourselves were on the streets looking up at the screen, but it could also be done to metaphorically make us “Look up” to this inspirational figure as the leader of a potential revolution.

According to the book Analysing Media Texts, “Mise-en-scène encompasses the use of lighting and colour, costumes, décor and props, performance and acting style, the spatial organisation of actors and objects and their relationship to one another.” (Analysing Media Texts, Gillespie and Toynbee, 2006) and that “It is difficult not to consider framing, camera movement and cinematographic decisions at the same time.” when we take this into consideration and look at the Mise-en-scène of the scene, we notice that everything that is build by the government and honours them – their own offices or the retirement home (first image below) for example – is very neat, clean and precise with everything in it’s place and symmetrical, where as other places, such as the family’s home (second image below) is slightly more messy and less neat, but still very tidy. This tells us that those in power have an image they wish to project by keeping everything neat, clean in in “Smart” colours, such as white, whereas normal families haven not changed much. This could be because the government would want to keep people in control and if the places were more “friendly” people might get inspired to act up a bit more. The cold neatness of the government facilities might also be likened to a prison. They all have bland colours and everything is neat and in it’s place, not letting off a feeling of freedom, but rather making those inside feel trapped, forcing them to behave.

retirement homeV-family

The whole scene feels very neat. Even in the family home, all camera angles and movements are all tightly controlled and smooth moving as oppose to abstract angles and “Shaky cam”. There might be no real reason behind this other than the cinematographer/directors felt it worked, but it could also be reflective of how calm the situation is. There are guards and officials working hard to break in and stop V from sending out his message, but even they are moving slowly and taking the situation rather well, but everyone else, the general public, are completely taken in by V and his speech, clinging on his every word.

The whole speech is about how people should rise up against oppression and stand up to their rulers, showing that V, and the film, holds some values quite dear, such as freedom of speech, liberty and lack of censorship, etc.. V’s attempts to complete Guy Fawkes’ mission to blow up parliament shows us that his belief that the government needs to change is very strong, so much so that he’s willing to kill to achieve it. He also (In part due to this scene and speech) manages to convince the British public to join him in his revolution, getting them to form together as a mob, all wearing their own Guy Fawkes masks and hats to join together in the fight against the leaders. They march through London to witness the destruction of parliament together. Once they witness the houses of parliament’s destruction, they all remove their hats and masks, signifying their own individuality.