Friday, August 14, 2009

The Last Man on Earth

Last night my mom and I watched a movie from 1964 on Hulu called The Last Man on Earth. It was the first movie adaption of the book "I Am Legend." It was old, it was corny, but I liked it. It is about a plague that overcomes the world and kills everyone except Robert Morgan. The people who are killed come back to life as vampires, and Robert Morgan takes it on as his duty to rid the city of these vampires. The best part of watching the movie was not actually part of the movie, but rather a commercial in the middle of the movie about Coca-Cola that started with the line "Nothing brings you back to life like a Coca-Cola!" It couldn't have been better.

*Spoilers ahead - If you have time, I suggest you watch the movie and come back to read:)*

I liked the movie however because it pulls a 180 on you at the end and shows you that understanding is often context dependent. Throughout the whole movie you are behind Robert as the protagonist. He is all alone and you root for him as day by day he stakes vampires in the chest. Then towards the end he comes in contact with a woman and then a group of people who are still alive but have kept the disease at bay through a constant injection of a vaccine. They are also trying to kill the vampires with the goal to rebuild society. The woman Robert meets tells him that he is a murderer to them. In his zealous quest he has inadvertently killed members of this society who are not vampires. She says, "You're a legend." He cures her with his blood which has immunity, but before she can contact the others and tell them not to follow through with the planned attack on Robert, they come. They chase Robert into a church, throw a spear through his heart, and watch as he dies. But before he dies he yells at them saying, "Freaks, you're all freaks! I am the last man on earth!"

Then you hear a child cry and the woman says something to the effect of, "Don't worry, you don't have to be afraid anymore." So, in the matter of a few minutes, the main character falls from being a protagonist to a very gray fate. And then the movie ends with you not knowing who is good, who is bad, and who you were supposed to be rooting for the whole time.

So I find it interesting how a situation can look so clear, only to reveal in time to be very ambiguous. Sometimes even the opposite ends up being true. From one perspective Robert was being assailed by these monstrous vampires, but from another perspective, he was the monster. He indiscriminately killed anything in his way. Overall the movie left me with a very unsettling feeling of uncertainty. I liked it.

4 comments:

Keith said...

You have a literary mind, Gabe.

Josh said...

Dude, I have that movie. It was sitting on our shelf the whole time you lived at Alta....

"Morgan! Morgan! Let us in, Morgan!"

Ant Quinn said...

I haven't seen either movie and have not read your whole post yet because I want to see it without the spoiler, however, I read this article about a model some Canadian scientists made to see what would happen if zombies attacked. There are probably better things scientist could be doing than modeling the taking over of society by zombies, but their Canadian so I can forgive them. Check it out. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8206280.stm

Ant Quinn said...

I think we both posted comments on each others blogs simultaneously, what are the odds? See you in Pittsburgh soon.