Legend' is a sci-fi thriller about a New York scientist who is abandoned in Manhattan in the year 2012. This one hour 40 minutes movie stars Will Smith and Alice Braga with Francis Lawrence as its director the movie is rated at PG-13 for violence. The movie offers a stunning view of how the city as the world knows it today, might look in 2012 if in the event it were abandoned in 2009.
Going back in trivia, this is the third adaption of the Richard Matheson's 1954 novel, originally in the film it was vampires instead of zombies. Such movies are always inspired by our fears and hence hold special interest, especially if it's a scientist abandoned in New York struggling to survive a virus that turns humans into flesh-eating mechanical looking zombies.
If we go through its adaptations, the first time the novel was turned into a movie was in 1964 starring Vincent Price in "The Last Man on Earth," the second time in 1971 starring Charlton Hesston in "The Omega Man" and the third and final version yet, was in 2007 starring Will Smith in "I Am Legend," it won't be far from truth to be saying that Will Smith has done honors to the movie, it is a much improved version, possibly hard for any other future versions to do as much justice as with this release, as the actors charismatic presence and responsibility to save the world as it depends solely on his shoulders, has made this the most promising version so far.
I Am Legend revolve around Robert Neville a military scientist; who in the past was unable to stop the spread of the deadly virus that was man-made but incurable Robert. The last human survivor in New York City and possibly the world, Neville has been for three years trying to send messages via radio in desperation of finding any survivors who might be out there. He is not alone though mutant victims of the plague infected by the disease which was supposed to be a cure for cancer are now hiding watching Roberts every move. He is only driven by the sole mission to find a reverse that can affect the virus using his own blood, knowing that he is outnumbered and quickly running out of time.
Now in 2012 with only blood thirst zombies as his neighbors and Robert Neville with his trusty dog and Samantha, is trying to discover a cure for this disease and to find out any other people who might have also survived
Every movie has its own perception that comes with a certain set of theories and practicalities that it revolves around. So is the case in I Am Legend, below we will discuss the various analytical terms and components within the movie and will attempt to shed light on them individually.
Chronologically, I Am Legend has one stated setting and one actual setting. The stated setting begins in 2009 and proceeds forward from there. However, since there are no technological markers that would put things in a specific future extrapolation, literally, the time setting is just in 2009 -- when the movie starts -- displaced into the post disease attack phase. This can be seen through the movie setting, which is essentially that of 2009s America (down to the records used for music), and through the message communicated, which is that of extinct New York, America and the world. The movie spells out the expectation and fears of 2009
Physically, I Am Legend has a nested set of settings, each of which heightens the American Hollywood dream in some way -- and what the plague of zombies, which has done just that. The central setting is Robert Neville's house in Manhattan, which used look like a comfortable middle-class home, now seems like a fortress and survivalist cabin, wooden shut windows to keep the zombies out and generator for power, since the world outside is no more and no civilization to keep things going. The setting around the house looks like a middle-class and essentially suburban neighborhood setting. It remains peaceful until movement is hinted and the zombies come out to attack, and thus the neighborhood becomes a moral battlefield. There are some occasional talks of going into the city for supplies during the movie and most probably escape there, but that does not happen Robert Neville stays put and his world changes around him
The physical and chronological settings combine to give the battle against the zombies a particular poignancy. The year 2009 was the American bicentennial; as a good, solid American, Neville should be celebrating. His history, his lifestyle, and his values should, by everything he was raised to expect, make his Manhattan home a particularly American form of paradise. Instead, his city is no longer the home of individuals but a huge population of zombies. His home is no longer his castle, where he can do whatever he wants and know that others will respect his right to privacy, but rather some place he must hide to avoid being killed just for being himself.
There have been a lot of symbology theories regarding this movie. The first that was brought up was the most common "eye of the triangle" theory, if one looks the I Am Legend movie poster; the words are in the order of a pyramid with the letter "I" on the top like the eye of "heru" on the dollar bill. Hence, "heru" is being associated with the Will Smith being the hero of the movie, who is trying to find the cure for the deadly disease, which has turned the entire population into zombies. Further into the symbolism of the movie, Will Smith is also shown to have a dog in the movie named Sam, and throughout the movie he kept calling it "Sam," however when it died he called it by its full name "Samantha," that represented the masculine and feminine energy or principle.
Another sign of symbolism, is from the Christian belief as the movie is about a person who is the only survivor in the world and is also the "savior," someone who is particularly been chosen to save the mankind from the zombie disease. His initial loss in faith at the start of movie and then him regaining it back when he understood that he is indeed the "savior" of mankind is also a symbol. Through the symbolism used in this movie, there have been many philosophical questions regarding humanity.
Another symbol would be of the butterfly. The butterfly is directly related to his daughter and indirectly to "hope." The symbolism here is subtle, but it can be described as his relation with his daughter. When he hears his daughter's voice when facing the Alpha and the female, he is reminded of his relationship with his daughter. The glass breaking is also a symbol as when the Alpha breaks the glass on its own and takes the form of a butterfly the symbol which represented his relation with his own daughter. So, he knew the Alpha would never stop, just as he (Neville) would never stop to save his own daughter, or the promise he made to her, and thus opted for suicide.
Coming to the dialogue component of the movie, throughout the length of the movie the actor is shown majority of the times conversing with himself. Which is a very hard to conduct
Since there are no reciprocal emotions or reactions to play with, however considering I Am Legend's acclaimed success Will Smith has mastered that art thoroughly. Also in the duration of the movie, the actor's only companion is his dog and the only friend he talks to, which again is hard to do, because the dog cannot speak the same language and hence no reciprocal reactions except of waging of the tail.
Considering the movie is mostly a monologue there is not much to build on rather than the actor's ability to engage the viewer in a monologue in the duration of the movie, hence for movies of this type a very strong script is the requirement. The screen play writer has done just that, providing Will Smith a strong dialogue base to build and work his character on, through which he most certainly made an impression.
Further we come down to the conflicts in the movie. The hint of first sign of conflict is what Neville has with himself internally in the entire movie Neville assumes that he is immune to the disease, but later finds that to be wrong, an internal conflict of self-sacrificing courage. With nothing to do but go to the video store in the search for deer to hunt and in strong hopes for finding survivors, these monotonous trips might make the viewer realize that maybe Neville is suffering from denial due to his feeling of obligation to the nation.