Though perhaps not as “academic” as the other sources in this bibliography, the oral history of the zombie war is an important side note to the whole genre. In Brooks’ book, there are several moments, while recounting the battles with the zombies, where they are told from the point of view of the liberators. In fact, in his story, he coins the phrase “LAMOE” which stands “Last men on earth”. These individuals, much like the character played by Will Smith, had been left behind, the infected zones to fend for themselves.
Often, as the story is told, these people left behind, were not all too happy to be “liberated”, as they had conditioned themselves to the isolation of being, and believing they were the last “people” on earth. In this sense, the film version and incidentally the book, deal with these concepts from the point of view of the isolated; but, what if they were to be told from the point of view of the liberators? Campbell, Joseph. “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949. Joseph Campbell’s book, is an overview of legends and the masks our heroes wear.
Both in the film version and the book version of I Am Legend, the Robert Neville character must go through various trials; which, ultimately in the film version, leads to his transformation from this plane of existence to another. (Mainly, by dying) The first trial, is simple isolation, which Campbell explicitly describes as one of the most common trails of mythology. Additionally, in the film, the main character exhibits a certain arrogance, which ultimately turns around on him. I. E the way he had caught the other zombie, the trick sort to speak, was used against him later in the movie.
Giglioli, Palo Pier. Language and Social Context. New York: Penguin. 1972. It should be of note: the original book written by Matheson, had a lead character who was white; whereas the film version cast the lead character as black. Setting aside the box-office appeal of Will Smith for a moment, what were some of the other reasons for the change of race? Could the film be taken as an commentary of the plight of successful African-Americans, being isolated, though working desperately to help their friends, family and peer group?
If the film is viewed in this light, one could most accurately argue that it is in fact a commentary on racial issues within a particular racial group. Hellekson, Karen Ph. D. The alternate history (Refiguring Historical Time). Kent: Kent State University Press, 2001. Through out her review of the alternate history genera of story telling, Karen Hellekson, makes not of the function of the story being told. If one were to apply her same method of criticism to the movie version of I AM Legend, we would find that it too is an alternate history.
Obviously, fictions, the film I Am Legend, begins with the initial out-break, due to the cancer fighting drug. Although, this is told in a “present” narrative, the inclusion, of these scenes are to create an artificial history in the story’s time line. Matheson, Richard. “I AM LEGEND” London: Orion Books, 1954. Naturally, the movie version starring Will Smith is radically divergent from the original book published in 1954. An example of one such divergence, is in the role of the main character.
In the original works, the main character, was a former Marine, whereas in the film version, he is a current Marine working with the CDC. Another divergence, which actually changes the nature of the title, is found at the ending of both the book and the film. In the film version, the main character becomes legendary, due to how he dies; whereas the book version, Robert Neville, is legendary due to him being the last non-infected “human” or in essence the last man on earth. Twain, Mark. “On the Damned Human Race” A collection of Essays Edited by Janet Smith.
1962. An argument could be made that both the film and the original fiction, had been a commentary on the human condition, the human race. Twin’s wit and insight into the social conditions apply aptly to both the film version and the book. The fact Robert Neville takes it upon himself to “cure” the world is manifestly anti-twian-ian. “it is the ghost, of fool-hardy chivalry” as Twain would say, about the lengths the character goes to rid the world of something, that it seems more than happy to live with.