Monday, March 24, 2008

I am Legend

I was surprised to find out that the Will Smith movie, I am Legend, was based on a 1953 novel by Richard Matheson. According to Wikipedia, the book was highly influential to the now-popular "zombie genre" as well as Stephen King, who said, "without Richard Matheson I wouldn’t be around."

Just to get a few things out of the way, the movie and the book share little in common, besides leaving the world occupied by vampire/zombie-types while the only unaffected person is Robert Neville. Aside from that, it doesn't take place in New York, Neville is (specifically) white, and not a former military dude/brilliant scientist. The zombie-types are actually quite functional, retain their speech and come to taunt him by night and call out his name. The "infection" does not spread in the same way, and perhaps most shockingly, Neville does not have as his soul companion a wonderful dog named Sam.

What it does hold in common is what I found most interesting about the movie (and others like Cast Away): how a person operates day to day in absolute isolation, and, with everyone they loved dead and gone, why they should continue living.

There were a few racial identifiers in the book that I found quite strange (maybe because I had a clear view in my mind of Smith as the main character). The writing is not great (it's a little Stephen King-y, or vice verse) but it's a very interesting story and a quick, fun, read.

The title, by the way, is neatly explained in the book - I'll leave that for you to discover!

1 comment:

Ms. Pickett said...

This book is Intense. Matheson is one of those great authors that lulls you into a false sense of knowing the storyline by telling you exactly what’s going on while slowly letting you piece together the side stories, background information and crucial events that make the book complete. I thoroughly enjoyed the way he explained the title of the book in the writing which the movie, I feel, did not explain at all.
This book is still on top of the Zombie/Vampire lists of all time, With Bram Stoker’s Dracula.