Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Night of the Living Dead

Night of the Living Dead, released in 1968 and directed by George A. Romero, follows the story of many different individuals and their quest to stay alive during the onset of a major world-wide zombie attack. Through it's usage of reckless killing and uncertainty, different people have examined that the film is a metaphor for the Vietnam war. The Museum of Modern Art said the film was releasing "the suppressed trauma" that the war caused.

All of the main characters in the film die. Some from the disease, some from being eaten by the zombies, some killed by other humans- but the point being, anyone we could possibly root for is dead. They all try very hard to stick together (except for Harry who is extremely obstinate) and in the end, one by one find their fate. This is same as what took place in the Vietnam war. Despite sticking together like a family, many soldiers died. Of course due to fear, just like Harry, there were probably individuals who lost control of their morals, but in the end morals didn't matter because death was the path they were heading down. Additionally, just like the assassinations of two important figures of the time (Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy), the movie showed how even important figures (in this case the heroic Ben whom keeps everyone together and seemingly safe) can be killed when you least expect it.... which leads me to:

Ben, the hero of the film and the one who survives till the end, dies from a completely different cause. Rather than the zombies killing him, tragically he meets his final moments as a man who is trying to help eradicate the zombie issue mistakes him for a zombie and shoots him. This is symbolic of how in war people make mistakes and kill people who either a) don't deserve to be killed, b) fought extremely hard, or c) are on the same side! The ending ruminates inside your gut, knowing that he was just so close to making it out alive! This is the same for many of the individuals who fought in the war. It is inevitable that some of those soldiers had a moment of relief thinking: I've made it! to which they were killed.

Night of the Living Dead was definitely a political statement made my George Romero. It was an effective statement, seeing as it shocked the viewers who were not used to this sort of thing taking place in a film. Through it's usage of reckless killings and being unsure of how things will end up, Night of the Living Dead succeeds in presenting a clear allegory.

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