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Why Prothero's Dolls In V For Vendetta Are Important

In 2005, the Wachowskis and director James McTeigue brought us V for Vendetta, their 132-minute ode to the idea that things could always be worse. Any papered nerd can tell you that the film was based on Alan Moore and David Lloyd's graphic novel of the same name, and that while the movie generally marches to the same beats as the original story, it takes some creative detours on the way there. It makes sense — the comic is beyond bizarre, even by Wachowski standards. The party leader is in love with a computer and a detective solves a mystery by dropping acid and going for a walk. It's the sort of story that makes audiences go "yeah, that tracks" when they realize the author wrote the controversial Batman comic The Killing Joke at around the same time.

One character who had his story arc's weirdness dialed down for the movie was Lewis Prothero, played in the film by Roger Allam. Presented as a bombastic propagandist — think Alex Jones if he kept his elbows off the dinner table — he meets an unenviable end when V himself sneaks into his shower for a hasty revenge killing. The scene doesn't go into direct detail as far as how Prothero dies, but if you pay attention to the background, you'll notice that it does give a glimpse at one of his more peculiar affectations: he has a collection of dolls. Eight dolls, sitting on a shelf, dressed in bright orange prison jumpsuits.

Weird? Maybe. We're not here to shame anybody. But if you read the comic, you'll realize that Prothero's macabre tchotchkes have a deeper meaning.

V for Vendetta wasn't kind to Prothero

Prothero, in the original V for Vendetta story, is here for a good time, not a long time. Kidnapped the day after V's inaugural act of terrorism, he's taken to the Shadow Gallery and dumped, unconscious, into a scale model of the Larkhill Resettlement Camp. Adorned in his military uniform from the good old days, he's ushered by V, dressed as a carnival barker, through a grim facsimile of the past. Along the way, we see dozens of dolls dressed in black and white prison stripes, standing in for the victims of Prothero who V states "used to work the ovens."

Being kidnapped, dropped into a Playskool internment camp, and stared at by countless dead, porcelain eyes would be weird enough, but it turns out that there's an extra personal knife twist in play. The dolls are all Prothero's, and the monologist is more than a little upset that V managed to get his hands on them. "What are you doing with my dolls?" he cries out, sort of missing the forest for the trees. "My God, if you've damaged any of them... they're priceless! Hardly any of the big collections survived the war!" A few moments later, V incinerates a pile of the toys.

Not long after that, Prothero is found in an alley, catatonic and painted like a doll, incapable of saying anything but "Mama." He's hastily replaced by a new radio personality, but the sudden change is enough to throw off London's groove, pushing England one step closer to V's beloved anarchy.

Don't mess with Alan Moore.