The anti-authoritarian movie which depicts a rebel fighting against a totalitarian government has never appeared in Chinese theatres, so audiences were understandably stunned when it appeared on their TV screens, raising hopes that China could be loosening its censorship.

Others believe it is a sign that the Communist Party’s new leader, Xi Jinping, is considering reform.

The movie’s famous catchphrase: “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people”, seemed to resonate with the viewers, and the internet was buzzing with comments.

Media commentator Shen Chen wrote on Sina Weibo (China’s Twitter) saying: “Oh God, CCTV unexpectedly put out V for Vendetta. I had always believed that film was banned in China!”

Twitter is not allowed in China, due to the country’s strict censoring of the internet, film, print and radio.

Rights activist Hu Jia said: “”This great film couldn’t be any more appropriate for our current situation. Dictators, prisons, secret police, media control, riots, getting rid of ‘heretics’ … fear, evasion, challenging lies, overcoming fear, resistance, overthrowing tyranny … China’s dictators and its citizens also have this relationship.”

The decision to broadcast V for Vendetta on Friday night was apparently made by CCTV.

The film is set in the future in Britain, and is based on a comic book. The protagonist wears a Guy Fawkes mask and rebels against the fascist government. The mask has a cult status in China due to its association with revolutionaries. 

Image via Youtube