Friday, September 26, 2014

A Discussion of Zombies & the Movie, "Warm Bodies"

I could actually hear her skepticism coming out of my computer screen as I read her reply, "You're recommending a zombie movie?  Really?  Zombies?"

I understand my friend's surprise at my recommendation of Warm Bodies, the Romeo and Juliet meets Walking Dead film which prompted me to break my vow of no zombies EVER!  As I assured my friend Amy, this movie is about so much more than zombies.  It's about dead hearts being made alive, kindness building bridges, the isolation we often feel in crowds, and maybe even a little about what it means to be human.

And did I mention it's funny?  "R," the Zombie of our story, narrates much of the film.  In the opening scenes he says, "I don't wanna be this way.  I'm lonely.  I'm totally lost.  I mean, I'm literally lost.  I've never been in this part of the airport before..."

[Required caveat:  The film has zombie-esque violence and gore and the F-bomb is dropped a couple of times, which is very unfortunate as it is an otherwise charming movie.]

This review actually touches on a bigger question: Why have zombies become de rigueur of entertainment of late?  What does this fascination with the the walking dead say about our culture.  Screenwriter Brian Godawa (To End All Wars) has written a very interesting piece on this.  He makes a case for zombie movies:
"What? You may ask.  Is there anything BUT a shallow zombie movie?  Oh yes indeed.  If you don't know this, you are obviously not educated on the benefits of zombie movies for cultural enhancement and spiritual values.  And I am NOT being facetious. . .
Zombie movies are a powerful genre to explore some rather penetrating ideas about our humanity and out ethics as a society. . . What makes human exceptionalism?  How are we different from mere animals?  The ethic of survival versus self-sacrifice is played out in a tale of survival against those who have lost their humanity."

You can read the whole article here.

Ethan Cordray has also written a piece, "Zombies Are Us" on the blog First Things where he discusses why we've become fascinated with the brain-eating, slow-moving dead:
"What if this fascination is about more than just gross-out gore and action thrills?  What if it represents a subtle, subconscious understanding that something is wrong - spiritually wrong - with our culture. . . Zombies represent the appetite divorced from everything else.  They are incapable of judgment, self-awareness or self preservation.  Though they still move and act, they are not really alive.  They hunger and are never filled.  And they aren't just hungry for anything - they specifically want to eat the living, and even more specifically the brain, seat of rationality and self control. In Pauline terms, they are the sarx [flesh] in its purest form.  Without a soul to control it, the flesh is slave to its own desires."
You can read this article here.

So, yes.  I really am recommending a zombie movie.

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