I am Legend

I_Am_LegendNot me obviously, I’m talking about the film which I went to see, a little apprehensively yesterday evening in Bombay. I love the Richard Mathieson book and was terrified that the combined forces of Will Smith and Hollywood would have completely destroyed what is so extraordinary and powerful about the novel. Then I saw the trailer and thought, I have to see this.

The film was wonderful, really, really good and I don’t think I was relaxed for one moment. It’s involving, desperate, moving, thrilling and pretty intense. Okay, so they did Hollywood up the ending a little but I can forgive them that as it after 90 minutes of the film even I felt that I needed a slightly more uplifting ending than the original which is a little more dark and twisted. The only shame is that the ending in the book, where the character realises that he himself has become the perversion in society, the misfit and the abhorrance rather than the new, vampire like mutated humans that have overrun the planet, and that is why they are bent on destroying him, because they fear what is different, is one of the most interesting commentaries on the nature of humanity. Clearly not really mainstream audience though. Other than that, fantastic film and Will Smith is excellent in it.

What is fascinating and thought provoking about all these types of post-apocalyptic novels, whether it’s I am Legend, Mary Wesley’s The Sixth Seal, Cormac McCarthy’s On the Road, or Jean van Ure’s Plague 99, is that you, or at least I, invariably end up wandering what I would do in those situations. When the world around you has altered and changed beyond all recognition, when you become the few, the hunted or the survivors, what do you do? Would you have the strength, the perseverance, the sheer bloodymindedness to get up every day, to keep going, to hold onto hope when there is none to be found, to stick two fingers up at the world around you and say “fuck you, I will survive!”

Well fortunately for me there are no nuclear holocausts, chemical storms or mutated viruses to wipe out the world’s population leaving me in such a situation…yet! Instead yesterday evening I walked through the city of Mumbai, or Bombay as everyone here still calls it, a city of 13 million people, all still one hopes, warm blooded non-vampires, and stuck two fingers up at the vast numbers of taxi drivers who all refused, point blank, to take me back to my hotel and instead I found my way back to Colaba on my own two feet. Okay so it’s hardly surviving an apocalypse, but hey, it’s a start!

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