Now it’s time to start the work of zombie analysis, our focus for the second essay unit. You get to begin with the fun part–watching zombie films. First up is George Romero’s original, Night of the Living Dead (watch the whole thing). It’s as fun as homework is going to get. Here’s a little context, first:
–This film was released in 1968, a very consequential year in American history. The Vietnam war was raging, the counterculture resistance to the war was mounting, the civil rights movement was in full swing, women’s liberation movements were just starting, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, as was Robert F. Kennedy Jr. These events aren’t directly related to the zombie phenomena, but that doesn’t mean that Night of the Living Dead doesn’t carry some of the anxiety of its era. The idea of a nation thrown into chaos, as the US was during that period, is reflected on a number of levels in the safe house inhabited by the various characters in the film. Romero’s film addresses issues related to race, criticism of government and military intervention–all important topics of the day. So as you watch, remember to let your mind wander. If you identify a connection between the issues in the film and the broader social issues of 1968 America, you might be onto something interesting.
–This film is black and white, but not all 1968 films were produced in black and white. Romero made this choice in part for effect, but also because it was cheaper and he didn’t have a big budget. In fact, he didn’t even expect that the film would be seen much outside of a few horror film festivals. It wasn’t intended to be a groundbreaking work in the history of horror film–nor was it intended to introduce a new kind of monster to the American filmgoing public. It was an art house labor of love, and its success and endurance was a surprise to almost everyone involved.
–Finally, Romero’s film is relatively tame in comparison to the gore and guts of contemporary horror movies, but for its time, it was notable for its use of violent imagery and gore. Specifically, the scenes of zombies eating guts were regarded as repulsive, and the early notoriety gained by the film was largely due to its “objectionable” content. Now we study the film for what it can tell us about social issues, the history of horror film making and so on, but back when it was released it was mostly known for the gore.
And here’s the link:
- You only need to do one Q/C now, NOT three, but each Q/C entry should be at least five sentences in length. This will give you the opportunity to develop what you’re thinking about in a more meaningful way.
- Your entry should refer directly to a specific scene in the film Night of the Living Dead for this round of Q/C’s. For this, you will need to refer to a specific time stamp. So for instance if you are watching Night of the Living Dead, and you want to discuss the first sighting of the zombie in the cemetery scene, you will need to scroll to that moment in the film and cite the time marker as it appears in the viewer window.
- Just as before, you will also be required to respond to at least two of your classmates’ Q/C’s, engaging in a meaningful way with their ideas.
- Questions and comments are graded credit/no credit and in order to receive credit, your Q/C’s need to reflect careful reading and thinking. Q/C’s that don’t demonstrate that you’ve done the reading will not receive credit. For instance, if you write, as a question, “Why did you have us read this?” or, “What other books did this author write?” or “What does the author want to say to us?” then you won’t receive credit. Be specific in your Q/C’s, referencing the reading/viewing material and engaging with it, and you’ll do fine. You also need to respond to two of your classmates’ Q/C’s. Finally, summary will not count for credit either. If you just explain what’s happening in the text, you won’t receive credit–you have to explain what you think about what’s happening in the text.
- Failure to meet any of the Q/C’s requirements listed here will result in a zero.
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