Friday, 22 November 2013

Film As A Mirror Of Society


You will often find hidden metaphorical meanings behind pop culture movies that convey a particular idea. Movies that have another meaning to them are usually portrayed in a way to entertain and satisfy mass desires through comedy, horror, or suspense. Such movies cover social issues, time eras, war, epidemics, etc to reflect on society and make some kind of statement. The statement or point of view of metaphorical movies may vary from person to person, but the author or producer has one intended idea to convey to the masses. Techniques such as symbolism, metaphors, and signifiers help to express the intended idea of the film. Because a film is not produced by just an individual, each aspect of the film wholly completes the intended idea. For example, the movie Warm Bodies is a popular movie to attract the young masses, though also has a certain message behind it.
Warm Bodies is a movie on a zombie apocalypse eliminating the idea of human existence. The main character, R, is an unusual zombie that has no name, memory, or pulse is different from the rest of the zombie hordes. The movie starts off with a couple of quotes R makes as he roams around the city: "...What's wrong with me? I just want to connect. Why can't I connect with people? Oh, right, it's ‘cause I'm dead. I shouldn't be so hard on myself, I mean, we're all dead. This girl's dead. That guy's dead. That guy in the corner is definitely dead. These guys look awful. I wish I could introduce myself but I don't remember my name anymore." "...This is a typical day for me. I shuffle around, occasionally bumping into people, unable to apologize or say much of anything. It must have been so much better before when everyone could express themselves, communicate their feelings and just enjoy each other's company." He indicates in the first quote that everyone cannot communicate because they are dead including him. In the second quote, he thinks to himself that people should connect through expression, feelings, and enjoy one another’s company.

The Movie: Warm Bodies

Throughout the movie, it shows who R is and what the zombies are through finally connecting with humans and the result of such communication among them. While looking out for human flesh and brains, R and a pack of zombies come across a human girl named Julie and her friends in an abandoned city. R is suddenly drawn to Julie and then shot by her boyfriend in the chest. Julie is distracted while R kills her boyfriend eating his brains and retaining his memory and thoughts. Strangely enough, his attraction to Julie becomes stronger and instead of killing her too, he saves and takes her to an airplane he lives at the airport. From there, the two bond and a tense yet tender relationship between the two begin to grow causing R to slowly come back to life. Eventually, Julie becomes restless and wants to leave his harbor, so on the way back R reveals that he killed her boyfriend. In rage, she abandons R and he encounters his zombie herds that are also beginning to slowly show signs of life. R and the other zombies go the human enclave where they come across Julie’s father whom refuses to believe they can change and threatens to kill them. Julie and R then escape together where they come across skeletal zombies known as the Bonies, are the deadliest zombies that will eat anything in a heartbeat. Escaping from them, Julie and R jump in a far away pool kissing passionately thrilled to be alive. However, Julie’s father finds the two and shoots at R causing him to bleed, proving he is revived. The zombies and humans unite together to fight against the Bonies, and the zombies then slowly assimilate to human society. After annihilating the Bonies, life is created again for both humans and reanimated corpses. The movie ends with R as a fully covered human and Julie together as a couple. 

Analogies between society and zombie-ism

The metaphorical aspect of Warm Bodies can be understood easily. In the beginning of the movie, R talks about how everyone is so dead emotionally, mentally and physically and how nothing ever changes or is new. Throughout, you see how the zombies are very disconnected among each other yet still carry out their daily routines and also use cell phones. This tells us that they are very much able to function yet lack the sense of connecting with people, a human connection. Another metaphor behind a scene is when R eats a brain and says he feels human again as he is able to recall memories of others and feel what they did. In this way we can say that the brain symbolizes for knowledge and enlightenment. The fact that he eats it and feels good means that thinking and enlightenment ‘feeds the soul’. Without the contents of what the brain has, our soul is dead. People who lack intellect become zombies as they miss out on the most important component of the brain and can’t function properly. Also, the metaphor that ‘music is good for the soul’ was used in a scene when R was listening to music and his heart started beating as he felt relaxed and happy. Music is another form of connection among people as it can be relaxing, something to relate to, and brings people closer together emotionally. During the time R and Julie stayed at the airplane, they would do activities together and R was learning different things. People need challenges and exhilaration to awaken the mind. Towards the end of the movie, as the zombies were exposed to signifiers of love, they started to slowly change. Signifiers of love were used in the movie such as holding hands, kissing, and exchanging words of affection were exposed to the zombies and affected them. The expression that love conquers all can be used in this example as it did conquer over the zombies.

The idea that humanistic qualities lack in people turns them into zombies can be applied to society today. In this way, you can reflect this on society and say that people are becoming very zombie-like. Zombie-like in the sense that people do not connect to others as much as they should and rather cling on their cell phones or just keep to themselves, never really reaching out to people in humanistic ways. Society is becoming very emotionally distant among people and non-intellectual in many ways, as everyone just follows their orders and conforms to what they hear or see. Zombie-ism is more of a mental disease rather than the impression that they are just dead people wanting to eat flesh. For example, on the subway you are in a crowd of people all gathered and stuck together, yet everyone is quiet and emotionally distant from each other only connected to their phones and wifi. We live in a world where people connect much better with their wifi rather than connecting with other beings around them.

The walking-dead are suppressed people who breathe just for the sake of breathing rather than living life to its fullest potential. This can be applied to society as most people only value work rather than their personal life and relationships with people. The structure of society has made people into zombies as we just do as we are ordered to do and the system works in a way that keeps us from being free-minded. We are able to remain human, at least for the time being. Our enemy is relentless and colossal, but also uncreative and stupid. Despite we are able to remain human, our enemy is still huge yet very unintelligent, and the enemy being the senseless walking-dead. The main idea of the movie was to convey the idea that love and affection sets people free and brings one another closer together, defeating this zombie-ism mentality.


According to the psychological theory, hierarchy of needs, it is said that love and acceptance is a priority and a need in humans for survival. Maslow, a humanist psychologist who created the hierarchy, determined that social needs are something everyone seeks. Social needs include the needs for a belonging, love, and affection. Maslow described these needs as less basic than physiological and security needs. Relationships such as friendships, romantic attachments, and families help fulfill this need for companionship and acceptance, as does involvement in social, community, or religious groups (Cherry, 2013).

Pop culture of zombies always has more than one meaning which relate to politics, history, society, evil etc. Depending on how the stories of zombies are portrayed the meanings may vary and differ. Mainly, Warm Bodies sends this message that people of society have become very disconnected from each other due to lack of love and knowledge. The film has many symbols behind metaphorical meaning that can be applied to society. What people can conclude from the movie is how to avoid such zombie-ism mentality and that is by doing everything opposite from these zombies.

Written By,
Hira Choudhry

Works Cited

  • Warm Bodies. Dir. Jonathan Levine. Perf. Nicholas Holt and Teresa Plamer. 2013. Film.
  • Klosterman, Chuck. "My Zombie, Myself: Why Modern Life Feels Rather Undead." The New York Times. The New York Times, 05 Dec. 2010. Web. 08 May 2013.
  • Cherry, Kendra. "Hierarchy of Needs." Psychology. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2013.