For the scene when V emerges from Larkhill, stunt double Chad Stahelski literally walked through fire, wearing just a special fire resistant gel and a g-string. Stahelski's body temperature had to be lowered before the scene was shot, and luckily, it was three degrees below zero the night of the shoot. Fifteen minutes before a take, he would put on ice cold flame resistant clothing, and once he took them off, he would be covered with fire resistant gel which had been icing all day long.
On a clock that has an hour hand and a minute hand, the time 11:05 makes a V. These two numbers, eleven and five, where eleven is November, and five is the day of November, spell out: the fifth of November. "Remember, remember the 5th of November."
The Secret Police are called "Fingermen", because the New Order was arranged on the model of the human body. The Chancellor (Sir John Hurt) was the Head; the television station BTN was the mouth; visual and audio surveillance were the Eyes and the Ears; Inspector Finch (Stephen Rea) was part of The Nose, the Police force, and Creedy's (Tim Pigott-Smith's) Secret Police were the Hand.
Certain scenes within this movie feature James Purefoy as V, who was originally cast in the role, but replaced by Hugo Weaving four weeks into filming. Weaving's voice was simply dubbed over Purefoy's performance in post-production. Director James McTeigue said in an interview: "Can I tell the difference? Yeah. Can the audience tell? I doubt it."
In the comic, illustrator David Lloyd often subtly changed V's Guy Fawkes mask to suit the mood or tone of a particular scene. The filmmakers considered designing several subtly different masks, but they ultimately decided to alter the shadows and lighting in post-production.
Evey (Natalie Portman) mentions to Gordon Dietrich (Stephen Fry) that "eggie in the basket" is the same breakfast V (Hugo Weaving) made for her the first morning she spent at his place. She fails to mention (or doesn't notice) that Dietrich and V also greeted her in exactly the same way, not with "good morning", but with "bonjour mademoiselle". Also, Stan Getz is playing in the background in both instances.
The original comic series was originally created by Alan Moore. However, following his negative experience with From Hell (2001) and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), Moore decided to reject all money and credit from Hollywood on any adaptations of his work. Thus, he gave all the money he would've gotten to the artist who drew the character with him, and rejected his own "created by" credit from the movie.
In Valerie's (Natasha Wightman's) flashback, there is a brief scene when she talks about meeting her lover while filming her movie. The movie crew that appeared in this scene was composed nearly entirely of the crew members for this movie.
During the introduction of V to Evey, starting with "Voila" and ending with "coincidence", V uses words that begin with "V" forty-eight times. Also, the total number of "V"s in the statement is fifty-five.
The scenes in the abandoned London Underground station were filmed at Aldwych, a Piccadilly line station that closed in 1994. The branch still has tracks and electricity, meaning trains can still operate.
Background checks were conducted on every actor, actress, and technician who carried a weapon in the Parliament Square scenes. The barcodes on each piece of weaponry were scanned, to track the individuals authorized to handle them.
The account of Adam Sutler's (Sir John Hurt's) rise to power that V (Hugo Weaving) delivers to Inspector Finch (Stephen Rea) closely parallels the account Leo Tolstoy gives of Napoléon Bonaparte's rise to power in France in Part I, Chapter III of the Epilogue to War and Peace.
Madam Justice is often depicted wearing a blindfold to represent justice that does not see, and cannot be biased or discriminatory in any way. This movie shows the statue of Justice that has stood above the Old Bailey criminal courts since 1907, which is not blindfolded.
The exchange between Evey and V that ends with V saying "A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having!", is a reference to a famous paraphrase of the words of American Anarcho-Feminist Emma Goldman (1869-1940). One version of the familiar line attributed to her is "If I can't dance to it, it's not my revolution." While this particular phrase is not hers, it is a distillation of a passage from her autobiography, "Living My Life", published in 1931.
V wears a mask in the guise of Guy Fawkes, who is most famous for his involvement in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, which he was placed in charge of executing, due to his military and explosives experience. The plot, masterminded by Robert Catesby, was a failed attempt by a group of provincial English Roman Catholic conspirators to kill King James I of England (the Sixth of Scotland), his family, and most of the Protestant aristocracy in one swoop, by blowing up the Houses of Parliament during its State Opening.
In the original graphic novel, V's cause was anarchy, not freedom. Alan Moore was very critical of the movie for changing what he called the "anarchy versus fascism" structure of his graphic novel, into what he saw as an exploration of "American neo-liberalism versus American neo-conservatism" that should have been set in the U.S. instead of Britain.
The two tanks used in the Parliament Square scenes were real decommissioned Army tanks. Each night, prior to transporting the vehicles to the shoot, each tank was inspected by government security personnel to ensure the weaponry was not functional and had not been altered in any way. They were then taken via truck to the location, with no stops allowed during transport, and were accompanied by armed security officials the entire way.
The name of the rose, which V uses as a calling card, has been changed for this movie. In the book, it is a real variety, "Violet Carson" (named after British actress and pianist Violet Carson). This movie changed this to "Scarlet Carson", presumably under the assumption that the audience would think the name referred to its color, not to a person. It is, in fact, orange-pink/salmon in color.
Amongst the paintings in V's lair are Waterhouse's "The Lady of Shalott", "Puberty" by Edvard Munch, "Bacchus and Ariadne" by Titian, "The Arnolfini Wedding" by Van Eyck, and "Elohim Creating Adam" by William Blake.
The mirror reads: "Vi Veri Vniversum Vivus Vici" ("By the power of truth, I, a living man, have conquered the universe"). The word "Vniversum" is misspelled in the movie, and original comic, as "Veniversum".
The plot of this movie is remotely similar to that of Alexandre Dumas' novel "The Count of Monte Cristo", as both stories revolve around characters who escape from imprisonment and proceed in seeking revenge on all of those responsible for their incarceration.
One of the major challenges in this movie was how to bring V to life from under an expressionless mask. Thus, considerable effort was made to bring together lighting, acting, and Hugo Weaving's voice to create the proper mood for the situation. Since the mask muffled Weaving's voice, his entire dialogue was re-recorded in post-production.
Several of the main musical themes, when written out on a staff, form the letter V if the notes are connected, dot to dot. Specifically the theme that's played at the beginning of "The Dominoes Fall", or the piano solo during "Valerie".
The tagline references "The Bonfire Prayer". This is a song that commemorates "Guy Fawkes night", November 5th. It goes as follows: "Remember, remember, the fifth of November / Gunpowder, treason and plot / I see no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot / Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, 'twas his intent / to blow up the King and the Parliament / Three score barrels of powder below / Poor old England to overthrow. / By God's providence he was catch'd / with a dark lantern and burning match / Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring / Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King! / Hip hip hoorah! A penny loaf to feed the Pope, a farthing o'cheese to choke him / a pint of beer to rinse it down. A faggot of sticks to burn him / Burn him in a tub of tar, burn him like a blazing star / Burn his body from his head, then we'll say ol' Pope is dead. Hip hip hoorah! Hip hip hoorah!" It is still recited in full at the famous Lewes bonfire night celebrations in East Sussex.
When V (Hugo Weaving) meets Creedy (Tim Pigott-Smith), he says "Penny for the Guy". Traditionally in England, children would ask for money to buy fireworks around November 5th, "Guy Fawkes Day". On that day, children would make a Guy Fawkes mannequin to be burned in a bonfire in the evening, amidst fireworks.
Euan Blair, son of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, worked as a runner for this movie's production company. The role drew criticism after Stephen Fry suggested that political connections affected obtaining permission to film in government buildings. The producers strenuously denied the allegations. Conservative Member of Parliament David Davies told the Sunday Times, "It smacks of sheer hypocrisy that Blair's government is willing to arrest a woman for simply making a protest in Whitehall, but is happy to open the doors when Blair's son turns up in a film, which is about Parliament being blown up."
In a bizarre case of life imitating art, a photo-shopped picture of Turkish President Erdogan in drag with a background of gay symbols (eeriely similar to Chancellor Sutler's (Sir John Hurt's) "God Save the Queen" painting in Deitrich's (Stephen Fry's) secret room in the movie) was banned in Turkey in early 2017, with several people being detained, fined, and even arrested for sharing the picture on-line. More recently, in April 2017, Erdogan won an extremely controversial popular referendum, which granted him what many critics described as "dictatorial" powers, much like the ones Chancellor Sutler has in this movie.
One of the forbidden items in Gordon's secret basement is a protest poster with a mixed U.S. and U.K. flag with a swastika, and the title "Coalition of the Willing, To Power", which combines the "Coalition of the Willing" with Friedrich Nietzsche's concept of Will to Power.
Evey (Natalie Portman) and Gordon (Stephen Fry) watch a spoof skit on the Gordon Deitrich Show, in which a fake V (Hugo Weaving) teases a fake Sutler (Sir John Hurt). After "Sutler" trips, the music switches to a fast-paced tune. The song is "Yakety Sax", also known as the theme from The Benny Hill Show (1969), and the sped-up comical chase that follows, is a clear reference to such antics on The Benny Hill Show (1969).
The movie omits or changes several important details in order to make V and his actions more morally appealing. Also, the government, while more sinister in this movie, is, at the same time, less human, with the authorities in the graphic novel being more complex. For instance, Chancellor Sutler (Adam Susan in the novel) is an awkward and timid man, who sincerely believes in fascism, and leaves all important decisions to F.A.T.E., a supercomputer also absent in the movie. V, on the other hand, is way more violent and less selective in who he kills, often murdering innocents in the process. His aim is not liberty, but anarchy, and he is actually abusive with Evey, an illiterate sixteen-year-old prostitute in the novel. Gordon Deitrich is a criminal, and Evey's lover, and he is killed by another criminal. Also, the central plot of the movie, of the government targeting the population with a virus attack, is not present in the book, and while it is hinted that a nuclear war happened, the ones responsible are left unseen. All of these changes infuriated Alan Moore, who claimed that the fascist government in his work had been "defanged", and refused to have any credit for this movie.
James Purefoy was originally cast as V and filmed some scenes, but left six weeks into filming, citing difficulties wearing the mask for the entire movie. Hugo Weaving replaced him. However, some scenes with Purefoy were kept, with Weaving dubbing over them in post-production.
When V is reading, and Evey offers her assistance, the book V is reading is "The Golden Bough" by Sir George James Frazer. This extremely influential book caused a sensation when it was published, due to its empirical examination of religion as mythology, in particular, the mythology of Jesus.
In the graphic novel, Gordon Dietrich is not only Evey's lover, but a slimy, cynical man and more an accomplice and culprit of the system rather than a victim. In this movie, he is a gay man who criticizes the system, hides his homosexuality, and ultimately dies for it. Stephen Fry, who portrayed Deitrich, advocated heavily for those changes to the character, being both a passionate defender of gay rights and a government critic.
Alan Moore, writer of the original graphic novel, greatly disliked this movie, criticizing the script for "having plot holes you wouldn't have gotten away with on Wizzer and Chips in the 1960s." He ended cooperation with his publisher, DC Comics, after its corporate parent, Warner Brothers, failed to retract statements about Moore's supposed endorsement of this movie. Producer Joel Silver said at a press conference that Screenwriter Lana Wachowski had talked with Moore, and that "Moore was very excited about what Lana had to say." Moore disputed this, reporting that he told Wachowski "I didn't want anything to do with films. I wasn't interested in Hollywood", and demanded that DC Comics force Warner Brothers to issue a public retraction and apology for Silver's "blatant lies". Although Silver called Moore directly to apologize, no public retraction appeared. Moore was quoted as saying that the comic book had been "specifically about things like fascism and anarchy. The words 'fascism' and 'anarchy' occur nowhere in the film. It's been turned into a Bush-era parable by people too timid to set a political satire in their own country." This conflict between Moore and DC Comics was the subject of an article in The New York Times on March 12, 2006, five days before the U.S. release. In the New York Times article, Silver stated that about twenty years prior to this movie's release, he met with Moore and David Gibbons when Silver acquired the movie rights to V for Vendetta and Watchmen. Silver stated: "Alan was odd, but he was enthusiastic and encouraging us to do this. I had foolishly thought that he would continue feeling that way today, not realizing that he wouldn't." Moore did not deny this meeting, nor Silver's characterization of Moore at that meeting, nor did Moore state that he advised Silver of his change of opinion in those approximately twenty years. The New York Times article also interviewed David Lloyd about Moore's reaction to the movie's production, stating, "Mr. Lloyd, the illustrator of V for Vendetta, also found it difficult to sympathize with Mr. Moore's protests. When he and Mr. Moore sold their film rights to the comic book, Mr. Lloyd said: 'We didn't do it innocently. Neither myself nor Alan thought we were signing it over to a board of trustees who would look after it like it was the Dead Sea Scrolls.'"
The symbol of the Norsefire Party is an ancient heraldic symbol called the "Croix de Lorraine". A similar symbol was adopted as the official symbol of General Charles de Gaulle's Free French Forces between 1940 and 1944. It was later used for various Gaullist political parties in France, notably the R.P.R. (Rally for the Republic).
The building used for the wide angle shot of Evey on the balcony actually exists, although certain architectural details were digitally modified. It is located at 1 Cornhill, London, and is just across the street from the Bank of England.
Included in the images seen on television, as Valerie talks about America's war growing worse, and then eventually coming to London, is footage of baby Jessica Leigh McClure being pulled out of the Texas well, into which she fell, in 1987.
In the memorial for those that died as a result of the virus, the statues are of children playing "Ring a Ring o' Roses". It is often assumed that the nursery rhyme was created in reference to the Great Plague of the mid seventeenth century.
In the scene where V is speaking with cops in a costume of Rookwood, the sculpture of dancing children is a copy of the fountain "Barmaley" in Stalingrad, which survived after massive bombing of the city during World War II by Nazis in 1942.
After V sends out Guy Fawkes masks to everyone and the riots start, the television announcer mentions that the first riots started in Brixton. This is a reference to the Brixton riots of 1986 in London.
V enters a building and is challenged by a guard. V opens his coat, revealing a large amount of explosives taped to his chest. The guard curses in surprise. There is a similar scene in the Wachowskis' The Matrix (1999), with a large amount of weapons instead of explosives.
Hilary Henkin wrote an early adaptation of the graphic novel, which was singled out as one of Hollywood's best unproduced scripts in a 1993 Los Angeles Times article. Her script was described as a "wild, over-the-top saga", and a cross between Les Misérables and A Clockwork Orange (1971). It bears little, if any, relation to the finished product, with the inclusion of overtly satirical and surrealistic elements not present in the graphic novel, as well as the removal of much of the novel's ambiguity, especially in regard to V's identity.
The filmmakers cite the French revenge stories "The Count of Monte Cristo" (a hero who reinvents himself in prison) and "The Phantom of the Opera" (a hero who is brilliant but disfigured) and the political thrillers "1984" and The Battle of Algiers (1966) as an influence on this movie.
There are two references made to the notorious punk rock band Sex Pistols, particularly the two songs that were banned in England, "God Save the Queen" and "Anarchy in the U.K." The group was banned from England for speaking about revolution and anarchy, two of this movie's main points. Their ban marked an era of censorship.
In the first theatrical trailer for this movie, the second and third pieces of music that plays in it are Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard score pieces from Batman Begins (2005), another DC property movie that was directed by Christopher Nolan. The second piece was also used prominently in Batman Begins (2005)'s acclaimed sequel The Dark Knight (2008)'s trailer campaign. The third piece was used in Batman Begins (2005) when Bruce Wayne destroys Ra's al Ghul's fortress up in the Himalayas with highly flammable explosives, a little like V does in Larkhill, and at the Old Bailey, and the Houses of Parliament.
As "head shaving" requires a razor and shaving cream or gel, Evey's (Natalie Portman's) head is not "shaved bald" as many have claimed. Her hair was merely buzzed short with barber's clippers. There is still hair on her head.
Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Weaving played the Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) and Portman played Jane Foster in Thor (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
When shooting the fight in Victoria Station, the stuntmen moved in slow motion on-set, while David Leitch (Hugo Weaving's stunt double) moved in real time, making it seem as if he was moving much faster than the Fingermen. The scene was shot at sixty frames per second, to slow the Fingermen down even further.
There is a duality in this movie between V and Evey:. The start of this movie has V and Evey making similar preparations as they begin their work (V and Evey even have opposite pan shots from a mirror). Both undergo disfigurement (V is scarred, and Evey loses most of her hair). V was created through fire (the laboratory fire scene), signifying destruction and vengeance. In contrast, Evey is reborn through water (the raining rooftop scene), signifying rebirth and forgiveness. The movie ends with V's death, symbolizing the end of suffering and vengeance, leaving room for Evey and forgiveness, and rebirth.
In the end, where the people remove their masks, you can briefly see characters who have died in the movie, including the girl with glasses, Deitrich, and Valerie, suggesting that their cause and their memory live on.
The Houses of Parliament destroyed in this movie are not the same buildings which Guy Fawkes planned to destroy in 1605. The original Parliament buildings were destroyed in a fire in 1834. The current buildings are built on the same site, and took thirty years to build, finishing in 1870. They were largely destroyed again in World War II, and rebuilt to the original design in the late 1940s.
After Finch's stealthy visit to Larkhill, he explains he has a "feeling" of knowing what has happened in the past, and what would happen in the future. The montage of the future happenstances clearly shows Evey setting the "Scarlet Carsons" in a vase and as she walks out of frame, Finch's reflection drinking from a glass in the mirror on the wall behind can be seen clearly. This could be a foreshadowing to indicate that Evey and Finch end up together. Also, the scenes yet to happen in this movie, like V being shot by Creedy's men and Evey looking up at the explosives stacked in the train, are clearly seen.
This movie uses the letter "V" and the number five as a motif, to highlight how V has become a concept: V's introductory monologue to Evey begins and ends with "V", has five sentences, and contains forty-nine words that begin with "V". V notes that Evey's name is special, pronouncing it as "E-V". E is the fifth letter of the alphabet and V is Latin for five (V is also the fifth letter from the end of the alphabet). V is held in Larkhill cell number "V" (Latin for five). The phrase on V's mirror reads: "Vi Veri Vniversum Vivus Vici" ("By the power of truth, I, a living man, have conquered the universe"). The scar on Evey's forehead is in the shape of a sideways V. In a dance with Evey, the song V chooses is number five on his jukebox (if you look closely, all the songs on his jukebox are numbered "5"). When V confronts Creedy in his house, he plays Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, whose opening notes have a rhythmic pattern that resembles the letter "V" in Morse code (...-). The Symphony's opening was used as a call sign in the European broadcasts of the BBC during World War II, in reference to Sir Winston Churchill's "V for Victory". This movie's title is also a reference to "V for Victory". In the battle with Creedy and his men at Victoria station, V forms a "V" with his daggers just before he throws them. After the battle, when V is mortally wounded, he leaves a "V" signature in his own blood. When the group of "V"s marches, Big Ben shows the time at 11:05 p.m., creating a V on the clock face. 11:05 is also the month and day format for the fifth of November. The destruction of the Old Bailey and Parliament results in a display of fireworks which form the letter "V".
In the movie, the Old Bailey is blown up at the beginning, and the Houses of Parliament are blown up at the end. In the graphic novel, the Houses of Parliament are blown up at the beginning, with the Downing Street saved for the grand finale one year later. The graphic novel also has the grand finale on the tenth of November, not the fifth.
If you listen closely while Bishop Lilliman (Sir John Standing) is being killed, when the scene cuts to the surveillance van, you can hear V saying "now open your mouth and stick out your tongue." In the novel, the Bishop died after eating a poisoned communion wafer.
Hugo Weaving appears unmasked while V is pretending to be the old man who gives the information to Inspectors Finch and Dominic. He also appears unmasked, though with his face always in shadows, while a disguised V acts as the guard and torturer of Evey while she's imprisoned.
If you look closely to the interrogator, when Evey is interrogated, you will see that it's not only V (Hugo Weaving) who is shown. The first and last interrogations are being done by Creedy, and it's he who stands in the door while telling her she has been sentenced to death. In the graphic novel, this is explained by the "Interrogator" actually being a dummy with an implanted speaker, and all of his dialogue previously recorded by V. At the end when the guard "begs" her for information, it's Weaving again.
More hidden V's or 5's in this movie. Creedy (Tim Pigott-Smith) shoots Sutler (Sir John Hurt) in the head, leaving five bullets in his six-shot revolver. He then fires all five remaining bullets at V (Hugo Weaving). Then, in his haste to reload as V is killing his men, Creedy only loads five bullets into his gun, leaving one cylinder empty. The audience then sees through the viewpoint of this empty cylinder as Creedy fires five bullets again at V, with seemingly no effect. Finally, five bullets in the cylinder of a revolver form the shape of a "V".