I saw Warm Bodies last night. For regular readers of Blogging Through The Fire, you know when I watch a new movie (or an old one) I don’t tend to offer a review but rather try to focus on a lesson or deeper message. Can a zombie movie have deeper meanings?
My literary snob is showing, I’ll admit that. This movie looked like a rental (if I was absolutely desperate), but to my teenaged daughter this was a huge must-see. She begged me to take her to see this movie every night for the last two weeks (and no, it hasn’t even been out that long).
As a disclaimer, I’m not a fan of zombie movies. I’ve never seen Zombieland, The Night of the Living Dead, or even Shaun of the Dead. I’ll take vampires or werewolves over zombies any day, though I really enjoyed Will Smith in I Am Legend. Zombies tend to be a little one-dimensional, and non-verbal, and just plain out disgusting. So, a zombie protagonist seemed a tad sketchy to me.
However, what Twilight was to vampire movies, Warm Bodies is to zombie movies. This movie isn’t about zombies — not really. They were authentic at least, the zombies weren’t vegans or vegetarians, they really did eat flesh and brains. And to be fair to Warm Bodies and Twilight, I’m not their target audience. This movie wasn’t made to appeal to someone my age. It was intended to appeal to young teens and judging from my daughter’s review it was a smashing success.
Here’s what she had to say: “I liked Warm Bodies because, well… First, it’s awesome. Second, I realized just how much we are zombies today. Figuratively speaking, I mean. This movie is full of action, gore, and romance. Loved it!”
Me — not so much. I didn’t find it that funny, but I have a strange sense of humor. I had a hard time believing a lot of the story points, but I suppose I should have left my reality card at home when going to see a zombie movie. Point taken. None of those things bothered my daughter. She was happy to give the story that willing suspension of disbelief.
That said, there was a good message in the movie. And after reading my daughter’s thoughts I’m very impressed that she got it. Maybe the deeper message wasn’t as subtle as I thought, or maybe she was actually listening to what I had to say on the drive home.
Julie, the heroine, has suffered a lot of personal loss and is very cynical, jaded even. How much loss do you suffer before you learn to not care so much? Before you put enough emotional distance between you and everyone around you that you won’t be hurt if they disappear too? How many of us are numb and cold inside, though we’re alive in every other way?
Rrrrrr (yes, that’s the hero’s name) is dead. He’s a zombie in all the traditional ways, except he questions things and he searches out ways to hang on to any thread of his humanity he can. He collects vintage vinyl records, bobble heads, and makes it a point to connect with his only ‘friend’ every day. His only friend is superficial, an acquaintance. As though using the label for another being made him more human.
As Rrrrr moves through his existence, the movie flashes to humans captivated by the screens in their hands, by the importance placed on coming and going but not actually arriving. For Rrrrr nothing separates one day from another, and he travels with others in a group, not because of any personal affinity but rather convenience. He’s searching for connection in a world where everyone is trapped within themselves.
Have we all just become zombies? Are we guilty of going through the motions of whatever our day jobs are, and not ‘seeing’ what’s around us, or ‘thinking’ about the who and why of what we’re doing? Are we doomed to continue in that meaningless existence, or is there hope to be more than that, to be different, to be more?
What does it really mean to connect with another living human being? Face to face? To touch. To embrace. To care about another person. To risk everything for a dream? Dare we risk loss? Dare we risk failure? Have we lost sight of how important that is? How vital those pursuits are to our humanity. How contagious is it when we encounter someone who’s living life to the fullest? Don’t they make us yearn for more, for something better? Make the coldest, numbest, parts of us warm up and thaw?
Good questions, especially from a zombie and a girl with a cold heart.
Have you seen Warm Bodies? What did you think? Have you become a zombie in your daily life?
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I’ll be teaching a workshop at WANA Con (an online writer’s conference) on February 23. WANA Con runs Feb. 22 & 23. You can attend the whole weekend, or just a day. Recordings will be available for the sessions you’re unable to attend.