Sunday, February 26, 2012

Illustrator David Lloyd on the Movie of "V for Vendetta"

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Illustrator David Lloyd on the Movie of "V for Vendetta"

(from 5/18/06)

Danny Peary: David, did 1984 influence the novel V for Vendetta?
In the back of the novel is a list of our influences. The reason we worked so well together is that we had exactly the same influences. The Prisoner was a big influence, Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Brave New World. A whole bunch of things stimulated us. V kind of had a transformation. When we started it, we didn’t actually didn’t know what we were going to come up with. As it developed in the eighties, it changed. Alan would write a script each month for Warrior magazine, and then I’d do the artwork and he’d see the artwork before he wrote the script for the next month. So it grew very organically, and I think that was very healthy.
DP: What about The Count of Monte Cristo?
It’s a good film but that was Larry and Andy who put that in the film. They’re big fans. When they first sent me the script they talked about book. They made the addition.
DP: Growing up, reading 1984 and seeing the Edmond O’Brien movie in the fifties, I believed Orwell’s model for his totalitarian state was Russia. But then I learned it was Britain during WWII because of the government’s control over the media. That’s why I see the influence on you, particularly because of all the monitoring done in Britain today.
Oddly, we want those things now, especially in the buses. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have tracked down the terrorists who blew up the tube in July.
According to Alan Moore, you came up with the idea of a hero wearing a Guy Fawkes mask blowing up Parliament. Could you have made a movie in 1988 with Parliament being blown up?
If we had tried to make the film in Britain in 1988, the forces of oppression, which were linked to the conservative government then, would probably have suppressed the film. It’s interesting that now you can make it, so obviously there’s a great deal of freedom in the creative community. Now, it’s different. Today’s government actually facilitated the filming by blocking off the moll in the middle of London. I don’t know if the conservative government would have done that.
The novel was a put-down of Thatcherism, but does it apply to Tony Blair?
No, it doesn’t. It applies more widely to the neoconservatism that is in America now. When we did the graphic novel, there was a strain of conservatives that sparked political opinions in television and comics and elsewhere. There is neoconservative in America that is sparking political debates and resulting in political films like Syriana.
But in Britain they just passed a law prohibiting the “glorification of terrorists.”
That’s a very interesting development. They passed that law, not before the movie was made. The government helped them with filming permits.

Is this the film you expected?
What I expected was a good film from Joel and the boys, and I think it is. It isn’t an exact book translation because that would be difficult to do, but Larry and Andy made a film that says what we tried to say then. It’s a terrific adaptation that kept the spirit and integrity of it all, and the key scenes. It says the same thing but in a different way. It’s a really, really good job.
Did you imagine your graphic novel would become a Hollywood movie?
We tried to sell it to film studios at the time. This is before we sold it to D.C. In 1983 and 1984, we were trying to sell it to EMI, and David Putnam’s company in England. We had it on track to be an animated film. We always were interested in furthering it to another media. But I must say, the way it has turned out is just terrific. Watching some of the scenes, it’s like seeing a painting you’ve done come to life. One specific scene is when Evey comes out of her prison and discovers who her torturer is, and goes through a transformation. When I drew that I wanted to make it as convincing as possible, and have it be subtle. And they did that on the screen just great. To create something like that and have someone else put a camera on it with actors was fantastic.
Is V your favorite character?
Yeah, I’d have to say that. To be honest, V is the foundation of my career. Everyone in the comic business knows it and has read it. He’s sort of a tortured genius, kind of crazy, has a good intentions and tries as hard as he can, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. He’s a very sympathetic character. When we did it we were influenced by Phantom of the Opera—the masked hero who has turned up prominently throughout literature. And what’s behind the mask? Who is this person? What drives him? It’s a fascinating concept, and we took that and gave it another lease of life.
Speaking of tortured genius, was Alan Moore involved in this film at all?
Alan hasn’t come on board this tour. I think Alan would be really happy only if it were a perfect translation of everything he’d written. Alan is entitled to what he stands for.
Terrorist is a scary word in the United States and all its markets.
Remember that when we did V, Irish terrorism was still going on. The peace talks were still fresh. So there was terrorism then. It’s not new. The difference is that since 911, terrorism has become a political movement. It’s something a large number people grasp as a political philosophy rather than it being a small group or movement.
DP: V is not a movie hero in the mold of Errol Flynn or Robert Donat’s Count of Monte Cristo. Do you have to make him a big of a maniac to show that he isn’t being endorsed completely?
He is clearly unhinged because of what he does. He’s someone who wears an outfit. His body is grotesquely deformed because of the fire but the fact that he dresses in an outfit and mask shows he’s unhinged. He’s a crazy man with a mission.
DP: In movies, we need violent men to kill the bad guys and bring about civilization, but then there is no place for them in civilization. So does V have to die because he’s too violent for the world he wants to bring about?
The important thing to bear in mind with V is that although we have to talk to him as a human being, he is, in symbolic terms, an idea. And idea of freedom from repression. It’s not important that we see who he is because he’s Everyman. To me there are two important political and philosophical messages. One if the right of the individual to be an individual. And the other is the right everyone should have to resist being forced by fear into conformity. If you look at Nazi Germany in the thirties is because it showed the people a way out of their terrible situation. I’m sure most of the German people did not want to embrace the Nazi philosophy but because they saw it as a way to help them escape poverty and unemployment and extraordinary inflation, they accepted it. That’s the same thing that happened in Italy with Mussolini. It’s the same old story. But the point in V is that you must resist that temptation. Your right as an individual is to govern your own future and don’t give the rights to your destiny to someone else because you’re afraid of what might happen otherwise.
The theme of the movie seems to be: Don’t let fear and paranoia influence you to give up all your liberties and trust your government.
That’s absolutely a central point of what we’re trying to say. At the end of the movie, there is a mass defiance of repression by individuals who aren’t political. What’s interesting is that they put on the masks V sent to them and as individuals become part of a mass defiance. A demonstration of individuality and unity combined.
Were you involved in the making of this film?
No. Luckily, D.C. sent me the scripts and asked for my comments. Larry and Andy called me and said they’d send scripts to me. I said, “Do you want suggestions?’ And they said, “Well, sure.” And I did make a few, not trying to bring it back to the original, because I recognized they had the right to make changes. I thought it was a really scripts. I have lived with that story for years, so I understood connections between characters and events that they might have overlooked. So I made a few suggestions. But by that time I knew they were going to be faithful. I did suggest if they added a sound to the curfew to up the dramatic ante.
Were you surprised by how faithful they were to the novel?
Yes, I am. Guy Fawkes is such an unknown person to most of the world that I thought they’d eliminate him. But they did it successfully and I think it will make people want to know more about British history.
DP: I assumed they were going to blunt a lot of the political stuff from the novel, but it’s there. Joel Silver acts as if there is nothing in the film controversial strictly because it adheres to the original, but it surely is.
He’s clear that he’s not afraid of that. We have to talk about these things. When we’re asked if we’re expecting complaints because it’s about terrorism, we had terrorism in the 1980s with IRA but that can’t stop you from telling a story. It’s crazy. If you worried about reactions, you wouldn’t tell a story about anything.
The film says: Blowing up a Building Can Change the World. Is there anything in the novel that you’d change if you wrote it today?
I was mainly the illustrator. That’s impossible to answer. It changed as it grew. We started off with straight adventure, about an urban fighter against a repressive regime. It grew as time went by.
What about Alan Moore?
If they had done a direct translation, I don’t think he’d have objected. He has a particular standpoint and wants to stick to it. He can’t stomach anyone adapting it with such liberal attitudes. He has refused to take money for it. He’s a man of principal and you can’t force him.
Is he mad at you for endorsing the film?
I found him and tried to get him to leave his name on the movie. Years from now, it will be good to have it.
What other projects are you involved with?
I’m not doing anything at this moment, but I have a 92-page police-thriller graphic novel coming out in the summer in America. I originally sold it to France, which a wider range of subjects. It was two 46-page albums there, and they have a very active market. It’s about a corrupt policeman and corrupt force in a mythical city in America. He’s an ordinary guy. I’m very interested in why people do things and why people compromise. I’d love to make a move out of it.
Have you considered doing movie design?
I haven’t been asked. People have suggested storyboarding, but that’s doing the director’s job. I know it’s lucrative but it doesn’t interest me.
Was there a storyboard on this?
Yes, they started with the novel. I know for a fact that they used it because they were giving out copies of the book to the cast and crew. The important thing is that Larry and Andy were fans of it, as was Joel Silver who bought the rights years ago. So when you have a project put together by fans of it, you can’t go too far wrong.

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