Thursday, January 10, 2008

I am Legend

Was looking up stuff on I Am Legend and check it out above ! The first adaptation of Richard Matheson's 1954 Novel is public domain.

Although it may seem cheesy on first look, this is haunting in parts, especially Morgan's workman like and resigned day-by-day genocide, in the new movie, we getting the feeling that Neville is methodically working through each city block to find survivors but in this version it is more explicit that Neville is making sure all the infected are dead with the ensuign detriment to his mental health. The perverse enjoyment of being the last man on earth and having free reign on all of earth's art and technology is present in all, with the payoff of loneliness is the core of the story of myself and manya geek no doubt, of surrounding yourself with books, movies and music.

Part of what I call Heston's "I saved the past, now I'm going to save the future you damn dirty cinema goers" (along with Planet of the Apes (1968) and Soylent Green (1973) ) Heston's Neville gets his monstrousity across a bit but he can't really express the loneliness and paranoia...the PHONEs aren't RINGing. My favorite bit is when he watches Woodstock over and over again and goes 'best GODdammn movie ever'. Like I was buying the existence of modern vampires okay, but the idea that he watches Woodstock every day stretches credulity. This sees a contiuation of a quasi-subplot of Heston movies: having a love interest that's a racial or exotic other, althought Rosalind Cash in the Omega Man give him more of a challenege than the scantily clad and mute Nova (Linda Harrison) in Planet of the Apes.

Get your lips off of me you damn dirty ape!...

ladies , the way Heston (and come to think of it Mel Gibson) like 'em:

scantily clad, in a cage, can't speak.

I don't think Heston every really wanted to leave the planet of the apes, you can shoot what you like and all the women who are intelligent look like monkeys and all the ones who can't speak are beautiful. If Heston had revived a 19 year old scantily clad vampire yoke and it was all heavy breathing and tied to a bed and almost cured, you'd know he'd be on top of it quicker than on a beach strewn with a hundred Statues of Liberty.

Which brings us to the great I Am Legend. As in keeping with Hollywood's 'Sexzel Washington Paradox' good male black characters never get to have sex cf Denzel in the Bone Collector or The Siege but bad black characters get to ride all round them cf Training Day. There's also the paradox of this type of Richard Matheson or Philip K. Dick fiction of the 1950s and 1960s, paranoid, ambiguous characters, which Hollywood has trouble making into action movie leads.
Smith does a great job of expressing the loneliness and paranoia but there is less of the implication of the Neville character actually being a monster to the 'still living' faction of humanity that he is slowly destroying day by day, absent from the current adaptation, which reduces some of the dramtic core of the book. It's great to see decent science fiction with a darker edge on the screen though.

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