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Sunday, 6 November 2016

Who is the masked man?

November the Fifth, Bonfire Night, the Million Mask March through London, all connected by the face of one man. Guido Fawkes. Some say he was the last man to enter the Houses of Parliament with honest intentions 

There was a dark side to his endeavour to remove the Parliament of James I and most the protestant heirarchy in one fell swoop. He and his fellow conspirators were inspired to put a Catholic monarch back on the English throne.

Whatever his allegiances, the figure of Guy, or Guido Fawkes has influenced many hundreds, perhaps thousands of people in the four hundred years since he endured the gruseome death of a traitor demanded by law. 

Tradition continued today, prior to the state opening of Parliament the Palace of Westminster is searched from top to bottom and the penchant for intense security had a hand in the production of V for Vendetta, the 2005 film based on the graphic novel. The transition to film from print wasn't without it's drama.

The checks on the weapons carried by the soldiers and the armament of the two decommissioned AFVs were stringent and must have caught the essence of the tension created by the original Gunpowder plot, and the activities of the Provisional IRA, among others in the 1970s and '80s.

This year, as the real fireworks cracked and boomed across the night sky outside the window the film unrolled on the DVD player, the darker Britain, governed by a police state portrayed as a body, from the top, literally the head in the Vice Chancellor to the hands, the enforcers, the fingermen patrolling the streets of London after curfew, and the gradual discovery of the crimes perpetrated by the goverment to maintain their hold.

The story unfolds towards the final denouement at Westminster on the 5th of November. The silent protest, hundreds of thousands of caped, masked figures  moving through the streets of London towards Westminster, and the confusion amongst the troops waiting for orders, orders from the head recently severed from the body of the state.

The final scene, as the Palace of Westminster is blown to smithereens is watched by the silent crowd and each one removes their mask and reveal their faces.

The whole circus, plot, terror and counter terror rolled into an annual commemoration, an innocent night's entertainment to remember, remember the fifth of November, Gunpowder, treason and plot, I see no reason, why Gunpowder, treason, should ever be forgot.

The caricature of the face, the goatee and the moustache, behind which those who wish to remain unknown will hide was the face of a man. Freedom fighter, or traitor, he faced his accusers, torturers and his executioners without a mask. he showed his face to the world, and now he has become a face behind which many hide their identities.

Hugo weaving's portrayal of V,  is a man stripped of everything, features, memory and identity and so he becomes the mask, and the mask becomes him.

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