Saturday, November 5, 2011
Hello all, Happy Guy Fawkes Day! Though most people in the Americas seem to know Guy Fawkes from the comic, and later the film, "V for Vendetta" where the Anarchist terrorist protagonist adopts the iconic Guy Fawkes mask as a uniform, I was first introduced to this slightly obscure English holiday via the excellent film "Hangover Square". Part gothic horror, part film noir, the film describes the fate of a talented but moody up-and-coming composer who is subject to curious blackouts. He begins to suspect that nefarious deeds are done during his spells, and indeed, a few bonfire related atrocities are committed. I definitely recommend it, if only for the excellent soundtrack by influential composer "Bernard Herrmann" (Psycho anyone?)
As I said, I think that most Americans know Guy Fawkes from "V for Vendetta" though this is a highly subversive interpretation of the character. I have a friend who was under the impression that Fawkes was sort of an English folk-hero, though actually the opposite is true. The man is burned in effigy every year! Guy Fawkes gained his infamy for his part in the "gunpowder plot" to blow up parliament during the time of conflict between the protestant reformation and catholic church. Alan Moore (writer) and Dabid Lloyd (artist) apparently felt that Fawkes should be lionized rather than condemned, and hijacked the mythos so effectively that the iconic "Guy Fawkes" masks of bonfire night have become the contemporary representation of protest and rebellion.
This is an interesting foreign holiday for us Americans, and I would love to find a way to bring the, much older, bonfire tradition to our shores.
I'll just leave you with an interpretation of V's song from V for Vendetta "Vicious Cabaret". I would prefer to share a nice reading of V's televised speech from the book, but no one seems to have recorded one yet. Sounds like a job for Mr. Calaveras.