Sunday, April 4, 2010

ZombieLand: Themes and Motifs

Part 3: The Theme and Motifs

ZombieLand's theme was a very simple one, but not poorly illustrated. Columbus' inner monologue really helps us understand and capture this need for connection, for people, and despite his differences with Tallahassee, they slowly begin to enjoy each other's company. It's believable. With the women starting off as enemies and then letting them ride with them, suddenly, they very suddenly become friendly and it's a little more forced, as I mentioned in The Plot. It's especially forced that Columbus basically doesn't want to be separate from Wichita. Again, due to the comical elements, I think the audience just politely ignores moments like these. I know I did.
By the end they're all best friends and like a strange family. It is fitting, especially for a zombie film, where most of the population is busy eating each other. Unfortunately, we don't really see much of the darker side of human nature, or at least understand the opposing side to trusting people and family. You might want to stop me here and mention how the girls had "trust issues," but as you'll continually notice I never write that phrase without quotation marks around it when reviewing this film. The women had "trust issues" based on no logical reasoning. We don't understand why they are con artists, why they continue to be con artists, why they don't trust anyone (even before the zombies), why they suddenly trust the two men the second time they trick them, or anything about the women, for that matter. But we especially don't understand the "trust issues" they have, which is very pivotal to their characters and to the theme, which is why I'm brining it up here. We'll get more into this in part five.
This family element is also well-expressed in Tallahassee with the loss of his son. It's also how Columbus gets him to help him go after the damsels in distress--er, I mean, help the women after they do something dumb--help the characters that need help. It adds a sense of finality and excitement when at the end all four of the characters are still alive and happy to have each other. Their lack of family elsewhere, their useless destinations that await them, and their hope to find a connection with people (i.e. family) is found without realizing it, and they no longer need go on an empty search.
Anyway, there is another motif in this film: the zombie survivalist element. All the rules Columbus has developed in order to survive the zombie apocalypse is this great, very realistic, refreshing take on the zombie film. Throughout the film his rules come up and press him to do or not to do something. Finally, in the end, our character overcomes this arc, as I mentioned, and breaks this motif purposefully. This adds an element of theme to the film, which is that though the rules may protect you, sometimes it's necessary to break them. Also, the realism in the zombie world is very refreshing, including how they mock it when Columbus goes to unlock his door, drops his keys, and when he comes back, realizes "of course" he didn't lock the door. Why would he? Making it a point to have him do something stupid, but also point out that he's not as stupid as the average horror flick. This movie, however, is hardly a horror movie. That brings us to part four.

No comments: