Friday, 13 January 2012

If we look back at the cinema of the 50s, it is clear that the spate of films about alien invasion embodied some of the anxieties of the early Cold War era: fear of apocalyptic confrontation with something hideously different; the sense of a hidden threat most people had failed to notice; and terror of infiltration by those whose loyalties lay elsewhere.

In recent years, the zombie apocalypse scenario has become one of the dominant motifs in cinema and video gaming. Does this, too, express the anxieties of the age? If so, what anxieties specifically?

It may be that zombie films symbolise the sense Europeans have that their countries are being overrun by non-European aliens and there is nothing that can be done about it.

In a film I watched recently, "World of the Dead - The Zombie Diaries", the main characters made a long trek across a zombie-infested England in the hope of reaching a boat that would take them to salvation in Holland. But in the final scene the only survivor of the group meets a Dutch couple on the shore who have just arrived from Holland. They had been told that they would find salvation in England. It was an island so it would be safe. But it wasn't. The zombies are everywhere.

I'm not suggesting that the makers of zombie films are intentionally creating anti-immigration propaganda pieces, just that the fears non-European immigration has generated are finding unconscious expression in these films.

We feel strangers in our own land, a land overrun by mindless, maniacal savages. Governments can't protect us. Sometimes they're even hostile. Often they're responsible for the zombie outbreak in the first place thanks to some mad experiment gone wrong. As the state structure unravels, it is as if the centuries have been peeled back to the primordial age in which people lived in small mobile warrior and kin group bands. The modern state has failed. Primality returns.

The is the basic plotline of almost every zombie film and could equally well serve as a description of present-day Europe.


TL Winslow said...

Unknown said...

good analogy, as the migration crisis really looks like a zombie apocalypse from time to time.
Thinking of the implications of such subconscious analogy: we all know what to do about "them". If it goes beyond any reasonable control.

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