I Am Legend

We watched I Am Legend the other evening. It’s an intriguing film with wonderful Christian themes. Will Smith is the last person living after New York City is hit with a terrible virus that turns human beings into hairless, vampire-like creatures. He roams the streets of New York hunting for food, always sure to get undercover by nightfall because that’s when the demonic used-to-be human beings come out to feed. When we do get a glimpse of them in their dark holes we realize they feed on one another.

On one level the film is an exciting apocalyptic adventure story. On another level it functions like a grim parable. The vampire zombies are a picture of humanity depraved by sin and selfishness. Filled with fury at the sight of the light, they retreat into the hell of their own making. All semblance of humanity is gone and they have become frightening walking corpses–shells of their former selves, now seemingly infested with demonic terror. Like humans given to their own depravity, they dwell in the darkness, full of rage–their only satisfaction feeding on others.
Will Smith plays a doctor-researcher who is the only one who can find a cure for the terrible viral infection and thus save humanity. He saw his own family killed in the frantic evacuation of New York, and he finally despairs and attempts suicide only to be saved by a woman of faith. (It was my eleven year old who said, “Look Dad, she has a rosary on her mirror!” She is one of the few survivors, and without spoiling the plot, the Will Smith character saves her in an act of self sacrifice so she can get the anti-viral cure to the remaining humans on the planet. The cure is carried in a phial of precious blood.
It is movies like this, which weave classic symbols and themes into modern scenarios that offer hope in our troubled culture and intriguing glimpses of how art can help to baptize the imagination.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12410703712664494697 Thursday

    The plot of the film deviates significantly from the source material retaining only a few plot elements from the original but still it is a good film in it’s own right. The primary Christian themes are prevalent only in the film whereas the novel is a deconstruction of vampire and boogeyman myths. My only complaint aside from sticking closer to the source material (all Christian themes aside I’m an adaptation purist) was that the ending relied to heavily on voice overs. I really hate that technique because it feels like the director just petered out in the end. All these things considered though the film was well made, breathtaking special effects, and a great moral message.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14830740919973561925 Tzard

    There’s a “director’s cut” ending which came out on the DVD. When I watched the theatrical release, I discovered a theme throughout that seemed different from the ending message. The alternate ending did it for me and said more about the themes of human dignity and redemption than the original. Check it out.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01379244511897838006 Marcus Aurelius

    And the dog pretty much rocks too. Don’t forget the dog. Us shepherd fans dug the dog.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12410703712664494697 Thursday

    I have to admit the part about the dog (wont spoil it) did get me misty.on a totally unrelated note ever watch Old Yeller?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08231113617194137573 Bob Cavalcante Jr.

    I saw that film and liked it too.When I read this, I had to laugh…“The vampire zombies are a picture of humanity depraved by sin and selfishness. Filled with fury at the sight of the light, they retreat into the hell of their own making. All semblance of humanity is gone and they have become frightening walking corpses–shells of their former selves, now seemingly infested with demonic terror. Like humans given to their own depravity, they dwell in the darkness, full of rage–their only satisfaction feeding on others.”I laughed because of this clasisc movie line:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWpU8sX10_4

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06624317806947588259 Rachel Gray

    ^ Great video. :)The part you quoted from Father’s post reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ depiction of Hell in The Great Divorce– how the inhabitants are weak and petty and enslaved and attack each other.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09985375857204313459 The Catholic Journeyman

    I liked the movie but….Boy, I never saw the theme…silly me. I need to read this blog more. ;^)-Dave

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01379244511897838006 Marcus Aurelius

    German Shepherds RULE

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12410703712664494697 Thursday

    German Shepards DO ruleBenedict XVI is a fine example.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00890263882434450870 pritcher

    I loved this film, but I have to say, when my wife got me the director’s cut for my birthday, I was disappointed in the alternate ending. *SPOILER*The original ending shows humanity–both the survivors and those “dead in the flesh” who’d just as soon kill him–redeemed by the blood of one who sacrifices himself.The alternate ending suggests that no matter how depraved one is, no matter how twisted one’s human nature, as long as you’ve got love it’s okay to be that way. And “love” in this case means the sick wanting their “loved” ones to stay sick, like them.I’m torn between reading this alternate ending as saying that no one alive is so far gone that they can’t be reached by love (which is a great message) or saying that wallow in sin as long as you’ve got affection.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00085197204868089329 aimee

    I enjoyed the movie in some respects – but also felt that there was a level of visual grotesqueness common in Hollywood films today that I don’t enjoy watching, regardless of the themes. It’s visually sickening, does something violent to my interior (not forgetting that the visuals of movies and TV pass right through our normal filters), and I always come away feeling dehumanized when exposed to those kind of visuals. Anyone besides me notice this?


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