Sunday, August 9, 2009

I Am Legend Book Vs. Movie


The 'I Am Legend' novel was written by Richard Matheson in 1954, and has been adapted into three movies so far; 'The Last Man On Earth' in 1964, The Omega Man in 1971 and 'I am Legend' in 2007.
The novel itself played a huge part in the development both the vampire and zombie genres. It was one of the first to explore the idea of zombie/vampirism as a disease. The novel shares a very basic storyline with the film of the same name, most of the important details are completely changed; this was a big disappointment as I was hoping for a close adaptation of the book.
One of the most obvious differences between them is that the novel's main character, Robert Neville, is a white male with a very Aryan appearance, whereas in the film Robert is played by Will Smith, who I think played the part very well, but it did not match the storyline in the novel.
Also, since the film was set closer to our modern time, Robert is a talented scientist, searching for a cure to this rampant disease. The storyline in the book is much more compelling; it takes Robert a while to realise the infection is carried in the blood, so he breaks into a library to do some research on the subject, and spends moths doing so (there's no rush, he's the last man on Earth after all).
The zombie/vampires in the movie are portrayed as being very animalistic, where as Matheson describes their nightly ritual of crowding around Robert's house, taunting him in an effort to get him to leave his man-made fortress. Because of this huge difference in the portrayal of the vampire/zombies, the film and novel were led to have completely different conclusions. In the 2007 adaptation Robert dies leaving the cure to the disease behind him, in the hands of another human, hoping it will lead to a rebuilt society in the future. Matheson, however, took a more creative route a had the infected create a society of their own, and even scientific advancements that allowed them to move about during the day. Robert, of course, was not aware of this, and continues on his daily regime of hunting and destroying any infected he can. This eventually leads the new society of infected to imprison and execute him for murder.

In my opinion if the 2007 version had stuck more closely to the original novel, it would have been a lot scarier, a bigger hit, and a more original 'Infected' movie, rather than trying to conform to make the infected mindless and animalistic like so many other modern movies.
I rate the 2007 movie 7/10 and the book 9/10 (it was very short).

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