Thursday, January 10, 2008

I am Legend: If 28 Days Later Met Jesus Camp... kinda

While visiting the (ex)boyfriend in Virginia, we decided to see a movie. I wanted to see The Kite Runner, and he wanted to see Sweeney Todd, so we compromised on I am Legend. The movie was filmed outside of my dorm freshman year, so I went to see if maybe I was in the background of any scenes bitching about how the flood lights shone directly into my room for two months straight (I wasn't).

But the movie was surprisingly good. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much. I think Will Smith is a great actor, but the premise of the movie sounded way too much like 28 Days Later (which I loved) to take it all that seriously. But it did end up having a pretty profound effect on me. SPOILER ALERT: The dog dies. I won't say how or when or why, but basically I sat in the theatre sobbing for 15 minutes afterwards while Justin tried to pat my head affectionately. All of New York City had been wiped out and I weeped when the dog died. Does this make me crazy?

Anyway, there are a lot of religious undertones in the movie that made it a little unenjoyable for me.

First of all, just before Robert's (Will Smith) family evacuates New York City, they hold hands and pray. We're led to believe that the disease hasn't killed all hope yet, that God is not yet dead. By the end of the movie, however, Robert is heard screaming about how everyone he's ever known is dead and gone, and there is no God, because God wouldn't let something so tragic happen. It's the human condition that let this crippling disease rip across the world, not God. And so when Robert is on the brink of death, he is suddenly saved by a latina woman named Anna (Alice Braga). The first thing you see is a flash of light, and the rosary hanging from her rearview mirror. Anna is the Christ figure, flooding the darkness with light, trying to give some hope to Robert in a world that is ultimately hopeless. In order to cement this fact, she wears a cross around her neck, and talks incessantly about a survivor's colony in New Hampshire that can help them start the world over again. So when Robert sacrifices himself in order to save Anna and give her the cure to the disease, she represents the importance of maintaining hope and faith in God, despite the circumstances. The play on dark/light (the zombies cannot go into the light without getting burned) further solidifies the religiosity of the movie.

I can understand the religious symbolism; for a movie that so deeply resembles 28 Days Later, they needed something to keep it from becoming eerily similar. Despite the Christian shit, it was still an unexpectedly good film. Will Smith looks damn fine in it, too.


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