I AM LEGEND
Counter-Racist Movie Review
John S. Bilal
“‘Let there be light!’ said God, and there was light.’Let there be blood!’ says man, and
There’s a sea!” – Lord Byron, Don Juan
Quotation given in the original script by Mark Protosevich
A real Black Savior is present in the world, but, no one will follow him, or appreciate him; it’s not because he’s a black man… it’s because everyone else… is dead! That is only one of many ironies in this, the third version of Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel “I Am Legend”. Actor Will Smith convincingly plays the part of Dr. Robert Neville, a black male, virologist, super-scientist, working for the army. It is the year 2009; a white woman scientist cures cancer, but in the process creates a virus so deadly it kills 5.5 billion people. Of the 500 million left, 1% or 5 million people are immune and cannot contract either the airborne or contact forms of the virus. The other 99% are super-strong, hyperactive, rabid, and vampire-like creatures.
Robert Neville is left alone in a desolate and primitive NY city, where streets are now overgrown with brush, and wild animals prowl the streets hunting for food. Neville lives in a heavily fortified townhouse, with a basement level, state-of-the-art laboratory. He drives a race car, wields a black high powered sighted rifle, and is in the constant company his trusty companion and only animate friend – a German Sheppard called Sam.
Symbols and Esotericism
Beyond Smith’s commanding performance, the symbolism written into the screenplay is excellent and provides ample challenges for a thinking audience. First of all, a ‘legend’ lists and explains the meaning of symbols. In this film are constant thematic references to color – black and white, light and dark. The typical vampiric darkness vs. light and good vs. evil theme is ever-present; in addition, the cadaverous white skinned creatures are called “Dark Seekers”. Daylight in this story symbolizes the presence of truth and justice. In one esoteric scene, on a bright sunny day Neville is shown on an aircraft carrier standing atop a large black SR-71 Blackbird jet slamming golf balls into the streets below. The scene depicts a super-smart black male, heir to or savior of the world, straddling one of the world’s most powerful (and black) war planes, using a long stick between his legs to casually hammer little white balls toward the earth. This image evokes an unusual characterization of a black male conqueror over former white supremacist power. Here stand all the now useless buildings, machines, and technology, the tools of so-called western civilization without the people who might have continued to use them to unjustly rule the world over its dark people. Of all people, who stands over this once supreme domain? Dr. Robert Neville, a black male, perhaps 3 generations removed from slavery, symbolically, standing with his foot on the neck of a now dead goliath, with his stick in his hand and in the process of k
nocking the hell out of little white balls. These are powerful symbols perhaps evoking fears of genetic annihilation.
The darkness of night in this story represents the absence of truth, the absence of justice. Neville, a former victim of white supremacy rises from a grave of abuse and marginalization on the back of this – the white man’s final, supreme, and fatal mistake. He walks with his dog in this place secure, unafraid… until night comes. Night is owned by the Dark Seekers, who represent the now dead and hell-bound white supremacist, carriers of a virus they nurtured in their former life. The virus is called White Supremacy. Dark Seekers are white skinned hellish fiends roaming the streets and seeking to feast on the rare blood of persons immune. Their preoccupation with darkness in their earthly life has doomed them to lurk in the shadows forever a hellish state of being. Their preoccupation with the blood of black people in their earthly existence, the madness of a one-drop-rule mentality, blood purity, coupled with a tendency toward mass killing manifest destinies has wrought in them an eternal thirst for blood. The screenplay is fascinating; it shows the reward for the unjust as evil upon evil and manifested in a mindless, violent, and putrid existence, where hearts beat furiously in anxiety and pain.
Man’s Best Friend – Dog or God?
Another irony is Neville’s relationship with Sam, the German Sheppard. Neville clings to his dog with affection beyond reason evidenced by the risks he took to save Sam. Save the world, or save… the dog? Neville watches with horror as Sam chases a deer into a dark and deserted warehouse, one of the places hordes of dark seekers nest during the daylight in ‘hives’. Of course, anything entering the hive with blood coursing through its veins is soon attacked by the swarm. After a pulse pounding encounter with the Dark Seekers, Neville rescues Sam, and since he wants to perform trials on a newly isolated anti-virus made from his own blood, he needs a Dark Seeker as specimen. He sets the trap and catches a female. Later, one of the Dark Seekers who appears to be the father of the female returns the favor by successfully trapping Neville. With great difficulty and injury Neville frees himself and in the resultant scuffle Sam gets bitten and infected. Neville is forced to kill Sam with his own hands and afterwards falls into abject despondency. In his blind rage over the death of Sam, he goes after the Dark Seekers and nearly dies in the ensuing battle. This scene reminded me of the nonsensical habit of Black males in North America to using the term ‘dog’ as a term of endearment in reference to each other. The anadrome of the word ‘dog’ is ‘God’. Neville appears to have confused his priorities in the face of tumultuous change. While it’s true Neville has worked with all his intellect and cunning to save the world, he
shows with his actions his love for the dog in his existence is more than his love for God. What Neville needs now, more than ever, is God.
Neville is saved by another non-white person called Anna who is traveling with a white male child called Ethan. During the day, Neville finds it difficult to communicate with his new found company. Finally, he finds his voice in describing Bob Marley’s vision for ending hatred and injustice with Music and Love. Anna represents an intervention by the All-Power, or God into this bleak situation. Anna tells Neville, God sent her, and, “things are quieter now, if you listen you can hear God”. This dramatic scene shows Neville’s response; citing details of the apocalyptic state of world affairs he rants “God didn’t do this, we did this”, and “there is no God!” With that fateful declaration, as if on cue, they are attacked in a final standoff by the Dark Seekers. Under the crushing pressure and confusion of this standoff Neville becomes still from within and does finally ‘hear’ God. He extracts the successful serum from the female Dark Seeker who is gradually returning to her former healthy state. Neville gives the serum to Anna, telling her the cure is inside the blood. He places them inside an impervious vault and defends to his death Anna and Ethan so that they might escape with the serum to propagate the cure. Ethan the white male child is there to remind us, in a world of Justice, all people have a place, including the white male. Anna and Ethan eventually arrive at the Vermont compound where survivors have created a starting point for a new world.
Alphas and Omegas
In the movie the ‘Dark Seekers’ are referred to as Alpha-male and Alpha-female. This represents the motivation for the bloodlust of the ‘Dark Seekers’. Neely Fuller, author of the Codebook for Victims of Racism is quoted here from a statement he made in 1964. Fuller says, “Many white people hate black people, those white people who hate black people do not hate black people because they are black. They hate black people because white people are not black”. The ‘Dark Seekers’ are not Alphas, but wish they were, the more they realize they are not, the more they ‘hate’ those who are. One of the most cryptic messages I found in this movie was within Anna’s name. For the sake of my explanation, let’s say the letter A is heaven; that would mean the letter Z is hell. The first letter of her name represents a alpha or the beginning in heaven and the second and third letters of her name ‘N’ represents the 14th letter of the alphabet which has its origins in an Egyptian snake letter. Think of the Adam and Eve story. The last letter of her name is again a alpha or a return to heaven. N is also the first letter of the last half of the alphabet. Think of the ‘N’ word, the niggerized victim of racism. Think of the phrase “I think, therefore I am”. The letters A through M represent heaven. The letter M has its origins in the Egyptian hieroglyph picture of an Owl and was pronounced ‘mem’ as in memory and of course we know the Owl is the symbol for wisdom and knowledge. A ‘man’ is first a thinking being; that is what separates him from the beasts. Between heaven and hell are the letters M and N. Between M and N is the division between Justice and Injustice, Heaven and Hell, Light and Dark and it is this balance which is all represented within the word MAN (MaN). The next letter, in the alphabet is O which represents O Omega. ‘The Omega Man’, the second interpretation of Matheson’s book. Charlton Heston plays the part of Neville opposite a black female character played by actress Rosalind Cash in a rather trashy interpretation where Heston becomes sexually involved with Cash. O is the beginning of hell and Z the eternal end of it. Remember OZ was built upon violence, lies, and deception as is White Supremacy. Remember, when Dorothy is told she always had the power to go home? Think; there’s no place like home, no place like alpha, no place like heaven, no place like Justice, no place like Peace. Neville is so focused on the cure and so focused on mourning his own losses; he has forgotten what home is. When Neville decides to give up on saving the Dark Seekers, when he decides to give up on saving the entire world for the sake of his Dog, just when he seems to have given up altogether, Anna saves him. Anna’s name as aforementioned tells the remaining people, now you have been truly tested, you were born out of an excellent heavenly existence, and you have been to witness the despicable hell and have returned immune to it. You have experienced what incorrectness, injustice and war brings. You are on this earth to establish and maintain peace and justice between all things. Go forth and be excellent and at home within yourselves and within each other.
The screenwriter, whether consciously or subconsciously, is telling the story of defeat of white supremacy. The ‘Dark Seekers’ are the white supremacists and all those who support them. They are the foremost criminal enterprise in the known universe. The billboard for this motion picture says ‘The Last Man on Earth is Not Alone’. Neville thinks he’s alone in his fight against racist man and racist woman. He unknowingly operates independent of the others in Vermont, who have the same goal, but Neville is still united with them. The United and Independent method of replacing White Supremacy with Justice is glimpsed in this movie. Neville uses his own blood, his own immunity, to solve the problem. What does this mean? It’s the individual immunity, individual strength to survive or turn back the onslaught of incorrectness and injustice which can solve all the cancers in the world. We may walk freely in the daylight of truth, but when the light goes away and injustice finds a foothold – beware. We must find the strength not to lie to ourselves or each other. We must let all people know, we are immune to lies and we refuse to lie anymore. The ‘Dark Seekers’ promote such lies and to the extent
we live within these lies, they find us, and kill our spirit to survive. They drink our blood and strengthen in their own wickedness. We must put our priorities in order. Will it be the dog in me, or the God in me which helps me to protect myself and my offspring from the violence of White Supremacy? In our alliance with the All Power comes help in fascinating and often mysterious ways. All cancers in the known universe will find their cures in the nurturing of humanity; economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, religion, sex, and counter-war – all the major areas of people activity must be humanized, and to do that… the ‘Dark Seekers’ must be healed of color sickness or eliminated. Although we presume white people have the means to replace racism with justice, they apparently don’t have the will. Non-white people definitely have the will to replace racism with justice – perhaps it’s in the blood of non-white people to seek to heal the injustice of the world, to bring the White Supremacists back into the fold of humanity. All movement in thought, speech and action, to replace White Supremacy with Justice is Legendary. Shouldn’t we all stand up and say “I Am Legend”?
“Being unconquerable lies with yourself; being conquerable lies with the
Enemy.” – Sun Tzu, the Art of War.
“We used to wonder where war lived, what it was that made it so vile. And now
We realize that we know where it lives. That it is inside ourselves.”- Albert Camus, Notebooks.
Quotations given in the original script by Mark Protosevich
Other Similar or Related Movies:
Legend (1985) Tom Cruise
The Dark Crystal (1982) Jim Henson
The Omega Man (1971) Charlton Heston
The Last Man on Earth (1964) Vincent Price