Log in

No account? Create an account
Previous Entry Share Next Entry
I Am Legend (no spoilers)
We watched the Will Smith film adaptation of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend last night. It was atmospheric and stuff, and the action was interesting. It diverged from the book almost immediately though, so it wasn't so much "based on" as "inspired by" the book.

We rented it, and were disappointed to find that the alternate ending isn't available on the regular DVD release: you have to get the Special Edition to see the alternate seven minutes of film. We found it on YouTube though, after going through some amusing BeeGees Rickrolling and a bunch of stupid user-created "alternate alternate ending" clips.

The trouble with the alternate ending is that it just doesn't work. It exists as a hat-tip to the original intent of the book, but it doesn't pull it off. It totally fails to cash out the title of the movie in any sensible way, let alone the way it is meant in the book, because there isn't the support from the rest of the movie to effectively execute the 180° change in perspective for the audience. The alternate ending doesn't even bother. Worse, what it does bother to do doesn't make sense either—retrieving one Nocturnal makes them all go away, despite the hundreds bloodied and burned in the assault, let alone the hundreds killed in the experiments?—and doesn't bring any closure to the movie. It exists as an ineffective sop to those who were anticipating an adaptation of a meaningful story.

Oh well. It was pretty, and a decent story with the default ending. The 1964 adaptation, The Last Man on Earth (public domain and free to download from the Internet Archive!) sounds like it is the most faithful to the book, except that it diverges for some "action" at the end and Neville doesn't meet his fate in the same way. I'm not sure how that will impact the message, but I'm eager to watch it to see.

The 1971 adaptation, The Omega Man, stars Charlton Heston and sounds mock-tacular.

  • 1
The 1971 adaptation, The Omega Man, stars Charlton Heston and sounds mock-tacular.
It was, believe me it was. I saw it in a theatre on Rue Ste-Catherine. Charlton was trying to being all hip and groovy, and even had a *gasp* interracial fling. Hollywood seemed so irrelevant back then.

Last Man on Earth = much better.

The Will Smith I am Legend convinced me that America had slipped into a mood close to fascism. Really.

The original IAL is the ultimate reversal. The hero discovers he is a villain to someone else. Furthermore, in the novella, it becomes plain that life on earth can continue just fine without our protagonist and all that you hold dear. So the book starts with purely centered on one man, and then ends with an understanding that life is much bigger than just one story.

But in the Will Smith version, there is no reversal of perspective, and indeed the scientist perishes. Only the simple and religiously faithful survive. They escape to a fortress-town in New England, manned by riflemen, containing a model American town complete with church steeple.

Fascism always comes cloaked in the images of the past and the rejection of alternate perspectives. At the time I had just finished reading The Anatomy of Fascism and the whole thing was not just a disappointment, I felt quite frightened.

Anyway, this is the post I didn't write back then, hope it was not too much of a rant. I guess I am afraid to say these things to my American friends.
Also, in the States, along with the trailers there are lots of long, movie-quality ads and music videos about joining the National Guard or the Marines or what have you.

I have seen The Last Man on Earth, and while it does indeed resemble what I've heard of the book, I gotta say that I found the entire movie to be infused with the same feeling of weakness as found in the infected. It was like no-one ate before they came to the shoot.

In other words, "the acting was bad."

  • 1