The High Countries

because it’s all paperweight…

I Am Legend (2007)

Alone, Robert Neville (Will Smith) fights all of life's demons.

Alone, Robert Neville (Will Smith) fights all of life

The Legend of Us

By Bryce VanKooten

The night ended much like it began with many of us, fearful of our sleep that night, but overwhelmingly intrigued beyond reasoning, negotiating our way through the maze of tangibility brought upon us by this mysteriously unassuming story.

All too often, I bring to the theater the intent to be scared twice, surprised once and relish the big screen for little more than an hour. Never once is my heart touched. Not for a second do I forget that, at any minute, a grisly ghost could pop out and kill my popcorn. I am a simple man, living in a simple world. I am a lifeless, heartless zombie, watching unfortunately…the same.

Enter, I am Legend. One of the most enjoyable films I have seen in past couple of years. Incredibly well paced and fittingly subtle, I am Legend showed compelling storytelling in its ability to pleasantly mold the characters around their objective reality, while never allowing you to escape the reality that alas, you were still perspiring from suspense. Determined to keep it simple, the saga of Robert Neville had me pleading for resolve in an inexplicably hardened world.

Neville presents a key aspect to the story in his appeal to reality. Focused on a cure and presently preoccupied with disaster, his thoughts on God make up little of the physical movie, but lay much of the groundwork in the emotional balance beam presented by Francis Lawrence. Convinced that God does not exist and that man brought itself into total destruction, Neville presses on in his attempt to free the remaining, infected humans of the disease.

Lawrence draws key elements from Neville’s story in his underlying silence. Burdened with the fate of the world, Neville does not see humanity (or rather, infected humanity) as the enemy, but rather as a problem in need of his help. Despite fierce attack, heart wrenching betrayal and incredible anguish, Neville is focused on one thing: redemption.

Of all the cinematic elements, none is more gracefully poignant than the relationship woven between Will Smith and his dog Samantha (Abbey). The last survivor on Earth, Robert Neville is left completely alone, save one, his dog Sam, albeit the film relies heavily on silence making much of the dialogue unspoken. In the twitching ears of Sam, hours of afternoon car rides can be rekindled and through the battered fur of his best friend, Neville’s primary hope can be clearly seen. Their bond is factually explainable––but in many ways––exhaustively complex, proving that despite their exclusivity, friendship remains that which is most scarce. Buildings still stand. Technology still brimming. Fear, still very present. But despite these realities, the most coveted of all emotions, love, remains atop the list breathtaking dialogue, heart wrenching silence and the simple journey of a man and his dog.

This filmed touched me in ways only a soft, whispery song could reach. Its silence invited me to a place where the world was no longer about you. It used the most simple of tactics to garnish the most striking of emotions and created dialogue not between the characters on screen, but between those walking on screen and those watching on a few feet away.

I wish not to go further into the details of this movie for fear of labeling something it very well may not be for every viewer. When I watched it, I saw a lonely man, angry at much and altogether searching for hope. Exhausted by effort, depraved of his sanity, he finds hope in his failures, showing us that it is only in our transparent weakness that anything can be done together.

I throw up my hands, over the impossibilities.
For straight and tired, where do I go from here?
Now I’m searching for the confidence, I’ve lost so willingly.
Overcoming these obstacles, is overcoming my fears.

-Relient k

Although this movie found true resonance in both my heart and mind after the first watch, it was significantly improved when Warner Bros. recently released the Original Ending. I’ll put it bluntly: I like it much, much more. I could go into detail about the depth of this ending, but instead, I’ll leave you to the clip. So much dialogue in the silence, making it authentically amazing. This is the step that the film should have taken long ago. Enjoy it here.

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January 26, 2008 - Posted by | Film Reviews | , , , , ,

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