I am Legend – Not as bad as I thought (film review – spoiler warning)

December 31, 2007

So, I actually for once saw a movie before most of my friends. This is a first for me, usually I’m one of the last to actually get around to seeing things. In all honesty, I didn’t expect much from the film. “The last man on earth is not alone”? What the heck? I read it was about this guy immune to a virus with mutants that want to eat him bla bla bla. I expected just another action movie. But is was sci-fi, and everybody seems to be making a big fuss about it, so when a friend asked if we could go see a movie (which ended in a 9 hour conversation, which is a blog post on it’s own, but I’ll skip that part), we ended up seeing “I am Legend”.

And I was surprised. Yes, you’ll find the fair share of screaming, shooting and fighting. But there is also the brilliant depiction of a guy living in solitude, and, although a genius, and basically doing all the “right” things when living in solitude, he is getting a little crazy, which will nearly cost him his life.

The film also ask the question of what humans are capable of. And the band played on starts out with the idea that the Cholera fever was a prediction for what was to come, which is then portrayed as AIDS. With I am Legend, I got the idea that AIDS was a prediction of what could come, and then this came, a virus that was airborne, and killed the majority of the people, mutated the rest into nothing but vicious animals, and left the rest fighting for their lives.

What are humans capable of? How bad can we mess things up? Some take the story of Noah, and believe that we will exist for ever, earth will not be destroyed, except for the day when God would then come down and destroy it with fire in order to set up a new earth, to separate the “saved” from the “lost”. This obviously goes hand in hand with a literal interpretation of Revelation, and can be seen in a lot of popular apocalyptic ideas. Others take the fact that God is in control to mean that in the end things will work out fine, no matter what.

What are humans capable of? Can we really mess things up so bad that it’s irreversible? At least for the human race? Was it possible with the nuclear crisis of the seventies? Is it possible that we can create a virus so bad that it kill everyone? Scientifically, is it possible? Won’t humans just always find a way to survive? How about theologically? Can our theological categories fit the idea that humans mess things up so bad and God don’t fix it? How would our answer affect how we think about issues like global warming and genetic manipulation?

On another note, the way God is portrayed in the movie is very interesting. It’s not the typical comical God of Hollywood. You know, with the old priest marrying people while he is being rushed, or the priest behind the curtain taking confessions and then suddenly jumping out mad at the confessor. No, this God was personal, and real. It’s about a family praying before going into a crisis. It’s about a guy losing faith in the face of life getting as bad as it can get. It’s about someone confessing that God is speaking when we listen. But it’s not the charismatic God, it’s the silent mystical God. And maybe it’s about someone who again gains faith, we never know, which happens through people. So, actually a very positive, balanced, view on spirituality from Hollywood for once.

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