(This is a guest post from our very own Pyre!)
One of the things that I did with the Left4Dead series was read the wall messages obsessively. I loved the little looks into people’s lives. Frankly, I have a theory that the most interesting thing about the zombie apocalypse in media isn’t the zombies but the people caught in them. RE Outbreak gives us little snippets of who these people are as well as the people around them and it’s fascinating. RE: Operation Raccoon City gives us none of that and, by the end of the game, I’m just going through the motions with no real connection towards anything that happens in the game.
In Left4Dead2, during the Hard Rain scenario, in the gas station where you pick up the fuel, there is a message on the wall.
PAUL Gehrig Girls left for New Orleans October 7 2009 I waited and I still LOVE YOU Kathy
That always hits me a little and I think it’s because of the “still” part. Whatever happened to separate them, it takes the end of the world for Kathy to realize that she still loves Paul. Even though it is seemingly too late, she would rather pass up fleeing to seeming safety to have one last chance to reconcile with Paul.
SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD is, in many ways, the story of people like Paul and Kathy. It is the “What If” for Armageddon. What if Bruce Willis had dropped the ball? (This is the only thing from the film that I’m going to spoil. There is no last minute save for humanity.)
But it’s more than the standard Apocalypse story. While Steve Carell and Keira Knightly are the two stars, the uncredited third star is the human race. Throughout the movie, we see humanity at it’s worst dealing with the coming apocalypse and we see at it’s best. We see people who never really liked their jobs but have spent so much of their lives reaching artificial quotas that they just can’t stop even when the quotas mean nothing. (As someone who has worked IT Support/Accounting, that resonates with me a lot. The awareness that, when I die, everything that I did in those two career paths meant nothing. The awareness that, if everyone in my field disappeared, the earth and humanity wouldn’t miss a beat.) We see people whose routines made them happy to the point that they don’t want to stop. We see the hedonistic. We see the spiritual. We see it all through the eyes of these two people who have been thrown together by circumstances that almost required the end of the world to happen.
When I mentioned this movie earlier, I was told that it’s a chick flick. Having seen it, I find that statement to be a bit of a tragedy. Lord knows, when I do see movies, I have seen a lot of guy flicks. But, every so often, I want a little something more than the guy flick. I want a narrative that goes beyond “If we can’t ** it, we kill it.” In a way, I find it sad that, if a film has more emotional content than screwing/blowing stuff up, it is automatically a chick flick.
There is certainly the chick flick components in how Steve Carell’s character and Keira Knightly’s character interact through their journey. But, in the end, this movie was a lot more than the standard “Two characters find each other. Romance is in the air.” In many ways, this movie is an End-Of-Life story. It is what we all go through at various points in our life when we look back and take stock of all the missed opportunities that we had in our lives. Everything that we should have done but we didn’t because we didn’t communicate or we were trying to fulfill artificial quotas or we were just content to sit back and let time slip past us.
9 years ago, I gave up on dating. Except for one instance with a married woman that I refused to follow through because of a moralistic belief against those types of affairs (Years later, I relayed that story to my younger brother. His response of “How’s that been working out for you?” hit closer to home than I care to admit.), I’ve been single and unattached. This has never really bothered me even when I have watched romantic films or seen the end of Shadows of the Damned. The notion of dying alone without a wife or a fiance or someone who really loves me by my side, someone who will partially die with me, has never really bothered me. After seeing this movie, I admit that the notion of dying that way actually bothers me a little. It doesn’t bother me enough that I’m likely to do anything about it. In a day or two, maybe even by morning, it won’t bother me. But, any time a movie causes one to engage in self-reflection even briefly, that is a movie that deserves praise.