Sunday, May 27, 2007

28 Weeks Later

To accuse 28 Weeks Later of being anti-American, as some people seem to have done recently, I think is a total misrepresentation. It's a simplistic, and in my opinion, deliberately cynical interpretation, as if you're desperately trying to see something that isn't there. It's like saying Swingers has a subtextual homosexual agenda because it's about men.

In every way 28 Weeks Later works. It's terrifying, heart-wrenching, and has not so subtle political overtones. If anything, though, it seems to me that the filmmaker's sympathies lie with the Americans. Obviously the metaphor is about American occupation of Middle Eastern countries where we may or may not belong. But the American soldiers are all portrayed as decent people desperately trying to do the right thing in a royally fucked up situation where reality constantly encroaches upon the best laid plans. In fact, the two main heroes of the film are both American soldiers selflessly putting themselves at risk to save the lives of others.

If the film could be read as anti-American in any way, possibly it comes in the form of faceless leadership that gives drastic and irreversible orders to the soldiers to carry out lethal attacks against citizens. But in the context of the film it's impossible for the soldiers to sort the innocent from the guilty and the killing comes with heavy hearts and an attempt to save the innocent in whatever way they can. It's a panic and lose-lose situation where stopping to consider consequences will result in it being too late to save anyone at all.

It's painful and horrifying to watch and perhaps offers a small glimpse into the confusion and existential horror many U.S. soldiers might face around the globe right now. Obviously they're not fighting flesh-eating zombies but that's why it's a metaphor.

1 comment:

Tom Drew said...

Your last sentence made me laugh, but I think your reading of the film is very perceptive. I hadn't thought of it myself, but I agree: it's an incredibly sympathetic look at our own military personnel.

Do us a favor and link to some of the reviews that claim the film is anti-American!

Did you see Children of Men, and if so, did you see (or feel) any similarities between that and 28 Weeks Later? Just curious.