Thursday, May 27, 2010

James' Presentation- Zombies!

I have decided to do my presentation on the changing zombie, looking at the difference between the original zombie and the new contemporary representations. I will also be looking at the changing political and social issues which the films reflect.
I will start by looking at the origins of the zombie and why America managed to create the zombie we all know today. This will lead to a discussion concerning why zombie films are not as popular in other countries around the world.
I will then look at the early zombies, particularly looking at the original Dawn of the Dead and Night of the Living Dead, however this will not be the focal point of the presentation as we have covered much of the issues concerning Dawn of the Dead in previous meetings.
I will consider how the tradition zombie has changed over the years from the early/mid 20th century to post 9/11. I will look at the influence the events of 9/11 has had on the zombie (if any?). I will be looking at the political messages which post 9/11 zombie films portray, especially the film Land of the Dead.
Finally I will look at the future of zombies and the direction which the zombie film is taking. This includes looking at the increasingly popular zombie video games.
Here are some questions to ponder before class;
Why do you think the zombie is so popular, and most films produced in America compared to other countries?
What post 9/11 issues do you feel are raised during contemporary Zombie films (if any)? And how have zombie films changed as a result?
Why do you feel zombie games are becoming ever more popular?

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Wall-E was defiantly a new take on the post apocalyptic films, unlike anything else we have looked at. It was interesting to see this type of genre approached from a perspective that will aim at children.

We can see two apocalypses in the film. The first of which is the man made destruction of the earth itself, which comes as a result of excess consumption and wastefulness. This hold the message (particularly directed to children) that humanity (particularly America) needs to reduce their excessive lifestyles and focus more on recycling (as Wall-E does). The heavy emphasis on Buy Large Company is reflective of Wall Mart, which every American can recognise. They have the vast hyper stores with miles of car park space as well as advertising everywhere (including the moon).

The second apocalypse concerns humanity and the loss of basic human capabilities, effectively turning into giant babies. Humanity becomes completely reliant on machines and technology to run their lives. We see that they have turned into fat and lazy creatures whose lives focus around being told what to do and buy by machines. Not only have humans lost their physical capabilities of moving but also their personalities. This is seen when the computer tells them that blue is the new red, so everyone automatically changes. This reflects consumer culture and how people are exposed every day to subtle (more often un-subtle) advertising and how it subconsciously controls our lives. This image of technology taking over is reflective of the Terminator series, the main difference being the robots in Terminator want to destroy humanity by killing us where as in Wall-E its through slowly taking away the points which make us human, turning us into a type of robot.

Whilst the ultimate aim of the film is to send out a hopeful message and tries to warm kids about the danger of relying on technology and wastefulness it could be seen to send out a negative image. In a way it could be read to show that no matter how bad things get there will always be a way out of it. Despite the world being destroyed we can use technology to repair it and whilst in the process you can have a nice life aboard a luxury cruise ship.

The credits at the end show the story of what happens after the film, how humanity effectively goes back to the beginning (cave man style) but through hard work and time can progress to the level they were at previously (only to destroy the world again??). So as with many Pixar films it ends on a happy note, much unlike other apocalypse texts we have seen.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


WALLE i love this film so much it is enjoyable with a hidden meaning. It has all emotions within it ranging from sorrow, love, hate, anger ect, it never grows old but it is ironic how this film is about too much consumerism but also they have put out every merchandise going on this film.

WALLE which is a post apocalyptic children's film, set in the year of 2100 on the after mass of the world that has been abandoned after an environmental collapse of the earth being overridden with too much junk, the world has been destroyed by consumerism, too much stuff for not enough people. The earth has been poisoned and no living creature is left escaped one little robot, WALLE, which has been created to clear up the mess while the human escape to outer space.

The humans in space are like mindless zombies without the gruesome side effects of being dead, They are stereotyped by being fat and lazy by not even being able to use their legs anymore to walk, the children do not know anymore than the screen that is placed before them. They live a life of luxury where everything is done for them, cleaning feeding ect. The soulless humans could be contrasted to the film Dawn of the Dead, where the zombie's remember only what has been on television and advertisements. like a brain washed person.

WALLE is not just an apocalyptic film set in a dead landscape but it is one of a romance story, between two robots one from the old world and the other from the new. this romance shows hope in the new world because if WALLE was not so persistent of showing his love for EVE then EVE would have not found what is in WALLE's treasures of peoples waste, a small plant which has started to grow on earth after so many years. Also them together have shown the humans that life is important again by knocking them to their feet with the humans realising they must save their children and themselves from what they have become.

This film even though for children has been liked by many older generations too, it does show the fear of what people believe may happen in the far future but always shows there is hope in survival and re-growth of the world, this some what science fiction text is the first of children apocalyptic story lines made, it has become a huge success throughout the world which has shown that not all texts on this matter has to be gruesome or horrifying. ( just to show more details)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

After finally finishing The Road, I have to say that I didn’t really enjoy it as a read, I found it very bleak and depressing, yet at the same time I was completely captivated by it. The relationship between father and son in a world where devastation surrounded them was the key factor that created a bond for me as I just had to find out what happened to them. I feel that this is a common factor for all readers of the novel as their struggle through life pulls on everyone’s heart strings. The boy signifies innocence in America and the father represents strength. Travelling east to west turns the American frontier upside down and suggests a sense of going back in time to a more primeval state of society. One thing I did like was the happy ending; I agree it’s somewhat of a cop out, yet I feel it’s a prediction of the future, humanity may only be a guest on the earth, but like Earth Abides, Mother Nature will always recover.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Road

The Road made me feel incredibly lonely, the unnamed characters added to this. The relationship between family is clearly one of the main motives of the book, the idea that with no one is left, family is what bonds people. The idea of going to the sea is one that is very familier within the apocalyptic tale. The end was a bit idyllic and some parts seemed unrealistic, but the message about the issues America faces are real. The way the world ends is not made clear, i feel this is due to Mc Carthy suggesting there is many reasons the world will end.
This review I found summed up how I felt about the book.
'The Road is a novel of transforming power and formal risk. Abandoning gruff but profound male camaraderie, McCarthy instead sounds the limits of imaginable love and despair between a diligent father and his timid young son, "each other's world entire"

The Road

This book is not really anything to do with the cataclysm that has destroyed all civilization and apparently almost all life on earth, but of the journey of the father and son after the death of the mother near the beginning of the story. The journal of the twos strong bond through such a grim landscape heading South so that they can survive for longer, dodging all the other survivors who have turned into cannibal going from town to town trying to find bodies. It is not like the typical apocalyptic text where there is a meaning behind the cataclysm which killed so many and outlines the rest of the story. Except that the father lives for his son and his son is so young that he can not survive on his own, but with the dad dying you can feel the tension of heartache through out. This text is more about them being saints (the good people) believing that there can be a civilization if they found people like themselves, showing strong hope in more of a religious manner, where the boy symbolises hope like another jesus here to help others.

As James stated the can of coke is a large part of the dying of consumerism making the audience know fully that this may be the last can on earth to be tasted, in other apocalyptic txt consumerism is a major part of the story line for example dawn of the dead being in a mall and them still wanting nice things. Also the gun that the father carries around is not for protection but to be used if the boy was captured to pull on himself, it is a symbol of the old world an American right to have in the use of protection although now to use in different circumstances. In The Road non of this matters and survival is more vital than anything else, the protection of the young boy is the main role that the father plays.

Though the young boy is represented as the strength of the future, he is the one keeping his dad going also he does not know much about the old world so adapts easily to the new. Even though the boy has seen many horrifying accounts such as the newborn child being roasted on a spit roast for the cannibals, at the end the young boy is like a hero because when he dad dies another family finds him a 'good' family who has a daughter which means salvation and civilisation can be continued and hopefully saved.

The Road

‘There’s literally nowhere to go, no sense in going, just the inexorable impulse to move.’ Ron Charles, Washington Post

There are several points within The Road which particularly stood out to me in regards to being an apocalyptic text of its time.
The fact that McCarthy does not mention the reason behind the apocalypse in intriguing as many apocalyptic texts are a way of reflecting current social fears, i.e. nuclear war, climate change etc. There is no names of people, places etc which gives the book a peculiar sense of simplicity. In this regards The Road it truly unique, being unlike many apocalyptic texts. It seems to be more focused about a father and son relationship than the end of the world. This is also reflected in the film, with there being very little CGI and special effects.

Throughout the book and film the reader sympathises with the man and boy’s situation, hanging on to their dignity by trying to live as ‘good’ people (i.e. not robbing or resorting to cannibalism) and “carrying the fire.” However as the book goes on we see how the man becomes more un-hero likes, becoming more like a savage. He kills and robs the stranger (who had previously taken their belongings) and leaves him for dead. Ron Charles states in a Washington Post article ‘…metaphysical challenge of sustaining his son's innate goodness while forcing him to witness the corruption of all moral behaviour.’

When the boy fins the coke can (possibly the last coke can in the world) the father wants him to drink it all and the boy responds by saying “it’s because I won’t ever get to drink another one isn’t it?” Coke is one of the most iconic American products which people take for granted. Yet in the book, the boy has never heard of such a thing. Is this the death of consumerism/capitalism? No material items matter any more (apart from the gun which is key to their survival). The global business empires which thrived in America (coca-cola) have been ruined.

Yet the book and film ends with a glimmer of hope, despite the father dying. We see a family take the boy (suggested that they will live together happily). The boy is kind and wants to help others. However this somewhat goes against the running theme of the book, which is depressing and suggestive that there is little hope left in the world (reinforced with the mother killing herself and wanting to take the boy with her). The realistic ending would result in the boy being captured by the cannibals. We see how mankind would act in situations of severe desperation. Some turn to committing un-speak able atrocities, many simply give up (the mother and Ely), whilst the youngest person in the book manages to keep strong and ‘do the right thing’.