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Alexis Maxinez Writing 37 Lynda Haas Oct 28, 2013 I Am Legend At first, being the last person alive

on Earth might seem like a rather interesting and fascinating world to be in, by now Im sure weve all played out this scenario in our minds thousands of times already, lets just hope it is nothing like the film I Am Legend. I Am Legend is directed by Francis Lawrence and it is based off of Richard Mathesons novel of the same name, let me start off by saying that it is not your ordinary zombie/ horror movie. According to the four stages of genre development, the novel falls into the primitive stage; this is because the conventions for the genre were just developing. The film on the other hand falls into the primitive, classical and revisionist stage because the film came out after the zombie genre was already established, but it also questions or reverses conventions that were already set. It is important to keep in mind that Mathesons novel came out years before George A. Romeros Night of the Living Dead, which earned him the title godfather of the zombie genre. Yes, it has all the characteristics that define it as a zombie/horror genre, but it also introduces its own unique conventions, some of which may cause disappointment to true zombie fans. The film and story revolve around one sole character: Robert Neville, played by Will Smith, who is thought to be the last man on earth. Initially a cure for cancer, a genetically engineered virus developed by Dr. Alice Krippin (Emma Thompson) inadvertently turned the human population into Darkseekers. Robert, who is immune to the virus, has taken it upon himself to find a cure for this new disease. The novel I Am Legend (1954), by Richard Matheson, revolutionized the

zombie community by being the first to introduce a zombie apocalyptic world caused by a virus. Many people have argued whether the film should be categorized as a zombie movie since the Darkseekers resemble vampires more than they do zombies. As stated in the Article I Am Legend Zombie Movie or Not? People strongly believe that zombies belong in Zombie movies and vampires, in vampire movies. We are accustomed to seeing decomposed, slow moving and rather dumb zombies, but this film does not stay true to this concept. Even though the film I Am Legend presents zombies differently, it still falls under the zombie genre because according to Kyle Bishop, there is more to zombies than just flesh eating creatures. In Bishops article Dead Man Still Walking, Bishop relates real world situations to zombies; his examples include the Vietnam War and 9/11. Thus the creatures in I Am Legend are symbols for what is going on in our lives today; they might look different but they still convey the same meaning. The film shares the same post-apocalyptic environment that every other zombie movie has, this is one way it stays true to the zombie genre, one way that it is different is that it includes subliminal religious references. A convention that characterizes the zombie genre is the post-apocalyptic environment, in every zombie film you know that human civilization has collapsed by the sight of empty streets, deteriorating buildings and a relatively quiet setting. The opening scene of the film I Am Legend shows the empty streets of New York. Nature is slowly taking back what is rightfully hers, grass is growing wildly and animals, such as deer and lions, roam freely. As Robert chases down the deer, we get a tour of the now desolate city of New York; it is hard to imagine how a once heavily populated place such as New York is regressed to ruble. This scene has the same effect as the scene in 28 Days later, were Jim awakens from his comma and wonders the empty city of London, they both put the magnitude of the apocalypse into a different perspective. Humans

naturally want to feel accompanied and loved, so being isolated from human contact is not any good. Roberts only companions for most part of the film include his dog, Samantha, and several manikins. Much like Rick, from the walking dead, begins to have mental breakdowns after Lori dies (He sees apparitions of her in the cell blocks) Robert begins to have mental breakdowns when Samantha dies. The death of Samantha helps the readers feel even more sympathy for Robert As a result of her death, Robert decides to go out at night and fight the Darkseekers head on, and he would have surely been killed if Anna didnt show up when she did. I Am Legend departs from the classic zombie genre though many ways, for example the creatures are capable of thought and emotion, but it also provides a new twist by incorporating a religious aspect to the plot. About half way through the film Robert meets Anna and Ethan, Anna is fueled by the idea of a survivors colony in Vermont. She is a firm believer in God and claims that he led her to Robert, The world is quieter now. We just have to listen. If we listen, we can hear Gods plan (Anna). There is a scene in the film right after this quote where Robert and Anna argue over the existence of God, Robert basically tells her that if there was a god then apocalypse would have never happened in the first place. The Darkseekers are a result of a genetically engineered virus that was supposed to cure cancer, but it turned deadly. This provides a strong foundation for the argument that there should be limits placed on biological experimenting, just like in the film 28 Days Later. It also suggests that maybe we shouldnt play God or work against his plan, the virus was a result of human work, God didnt do this, we did (Robert). Robert is a virologist that played a role in the creation of the disease that basically killed of the human population, so in the film, it is ironic to see a picture of him on the cover of a Times Magazine with the label Savior. Robert Neville can be seen as a Christ figure. He is ultimately trying to save the human population and at the end he even sacrifices himself to pass

on the cure. Just like Jesus died on the cross to save us, Robert died to ensure the survival of the human race, becoming a Martyr. It may be easy to characterize the film I Am Legend into a genre other than the zombie/horror category simply because the creatures do not resemble zombies we are used to seeing, but that would be an incorrect assumption. Like Noel Carroll stated, there doesnt have to be a monster in a film for it to be a horror movie. The film does follow several other conventions that are included in traditional zombie films, but it introduces its own variants of zombies. The text led the way for other virus infected zombie films such as 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead. Unlike many other zombie movies, the infected in I Am Legend were intelligent and retained some human characteristics, such as emotion. Many people claimed that because the Darkseekers are afraid of the Light, strong and agile, they are indeed vampires. Overall, the film served as a decent interpretation of Richard Mathesons novel and of the other two movies, this film is that people think of when they discuss Richard Matheson. While the film was highly criticized, the novel had a positive reception. Authors such as Stephen King and George A. Romero made statements such as I had written a short story that I basically had ripped off from a Richard Matheson novel (George Romero) and Books like I am Legend were an inspiration to me (Stephen King).

I Am Legend. IMDb,, 14 Dec. 2007. Web. 14 Oct 2013. I Am Legend- Zombie Movie or Not? N.p., 21 Dec. 2007. Web. 15 2013. I Am Legend (novel). Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Dec. 2013. Web. 15 2013.

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