Saturday, January 12, 2008

I Am Legend Afterthought

A friend and I saw I Am Legend recently. We were blown away by the film. We both were clutching our hearts and talking our way through the movie. "Talking our way through the movie" means in order to regain composure, we had to talk. In truth, I gave up watching horror films 15 years ago because I think it's crazy to build up tension in my body and digest all those images into my psyche. Seeing this film was pure whimsy.

The scenes were great. The one where people were being checked for contamination in order to fly off Manhattan Island was very telling. One, instead of planes, the government used helicopters to transport people. That greatly slows the evacuation process down. Then the device to detect contamination may be subject to error. So, there could have been many people left to face these mutant killing machines.

Other scenes I enjoyed were the bombed bridges, the boulevards clogged with abandoned cars and any scene with beautiful Sam--Samantha the dog. The mutants were spectacles that deserved to be night stalkers.

Towards the end, the character played by Alice Braga says something that resonates with me. She says that "It's easier to hear God now that there are fewer people." I've told my students that the ancient Egyptians believed the air was The Almighty's breath and meditation was the way to discern the messages in the air.

Looking back on I Am Legend, I see that so many elements of past films were used. Night of the Living Dead, The Last Man on Earth, Castaway and Omega Man are a few that come to mind. The scenes in the video store where the lonely doctor talks to the dummies reminded me of Harry Bellafonte's conversations with Mr. Snodgress in "The World, The Flesh and The Devil." While Vincent Price's character in The Last Man on Earth spends his days hunting and killing the supposed infected during the day; Smith's Dr. Neville sporadically traps the mutants to test the latest version of his cure. Ben in Night of the Living Dead and I Am Legend's Dr. Neville face a similar end; however, a legend is developed around Dr. Neville's successful development of a cure for the disease. Poor Ben is shot as he sticks his head out to face the bright day.

For some horror lovers, there are wagging heads and thumbs down for I Am Legend. The fainted hearted, blown away by sweeping scenes, a loyal dog and the relentless search for a cure [and secure sleeping place] will enjoy I Am Legend.

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