THE LAST GIRL is a English movie directed by Colm McCarthy, a director from the tv (Dr Who, Sherlock). It tells the story of Melanie (Sennia Nanua), a child at the time contaminated, and immune to virus fungus that has turned the human race into cannibals moronic. After the attack of the military base that held the prisoner to conduct experiments on it and a few similar, Melanie, accompanied by a small group of humans, will pass through an England devastated in the search for a way to save humanity is threatened.
Here is the trailer.
You’ll obviously recognized in the pitch or the BA, the gimmicks of the zombie film. However, rather than see it as a relative classicism, we prefer to meet from THE LAST GIRL, a legacy of which we will try to trace the major lines, among his works the most popular. Of Zombie in Last of Us, passing by The Walking Dead, Resident Evil or 28 days later.
If the zombie origin, seems of beliefs rather religious, haitian culture & voodoo, its popularization in film by George Romero (from 1968 and The Night of the living dead) characterized, it appears, permanently, the zombie. Resurrection, cannibalism, contagion. Romero subsequently declined again and again, its own founding principles to explore through the figure of the zombie, various facets of american society. The symbol of the most striking will undoubtedly remain the metaphor of the consumer décérébré, especially in Zombie. In parallel to this discourse rather policy, of memorable works such asEvil Dead or Braindead craned to the aspect of “possession” and grand-guignolesque of the concept. Entertainment and subversion, the series B/Z and film, very independent, two facets of major zombie movie during the last century.
Towards the end of the years 90, a first significant evolution gave back, through a media that is relatively on the margin, the letters of nobility to a genre in decay: the video game Resident Evil (1996). In it, the story and characters were not in and of itself, not of great interest… In addition, there was some reappropriation of the figure of the zombie, through a spin story highlighting a contagious virus to the beyond the human, as well as a staging innovative plays on the evolution of the virus and the zombie itself, increasingly aggressive and swift in the course of the game. The one in the other, there was a slow rise in power of the rhythm, is a spectacular sight of by the until the end-ism applied to the evolution of the virus, without forgetting the playback track, not so inconsequentially observing Humans all-powerful, manipulating entities, destructive, uncontrollable. A video game and two of its sequels (1998 and 1999) that marked the collective imagination as much as the video game industry – that which gives our senses, a certain indication on the “originality” of visual patterns, but also the themes of 28 days later by Danny Boyle (2002), and then of the army of The dead by Zack Snyder (2004), the two famous films that relancèrent the zombie-movie at the beginning of the century.
The first gave new cinematic codes in zombie – more aggressive, more swift , as well as a new runway in terms of morality and philosophy: the real nature of Man is revealed when he is put face to face with his own survival… that’s a zombie or a human, is therefore the most dangerous ?
As to the army of The dead, well that remake unofficial of the Zombie of Romero, it capitalisa rather on the new cinematic codes introduced by 28 days later, leaving, however, the staging of the action to the taste of the day, with their famous combo empathy VS suspense and inventiveness ever taken in default of Snyder.
Again, these two films have redefined a charter visual and thematic, which extended well beyond the cinema! In the wake of the film of Danny Boyle, the comics , The Walking Dead, (2003) examined, for example, the decay of humanity in the face of its own extinction, through a few individuals iconic. The zombie, static but dangerous as in Romero, there is finally enough device; what we held is that the graphic violence was equal to the moral issues and the psychological violence that they caused, they are expressing disapproval through many topics in the field of the personal and the societal. Its adaptation for TV from 2010 is thus quite paradoxical, spectacular in its special effects and gore relatively free, but exploring in depth (and even repeat), the psyche of the more tortured of its protagonists. As to its adaptation of the video game, released in 2013, the total freedom of the player as to the many decisions that are anti-manichean typical of the license, combined with the talent of writing and storytelling as well as the powerful sensitivity of the studio Telltale, which made it one of the best video games of the year – just below a certain The Last of Us… We’ll get to that.
To stay in the field of video game, it is in Resident Evil 4 (2005) that is lived, the more intensely the influence of 28 days later and army of the dead, through a significant evolution of the implementation stage (action discontinuous framings and camera movements agonizing, staging explosive gameplay as varied as it is calibrated); the game was so innovative at the time, he “created” almost alone, the genre of the TPS*, and, by extension, gave the the whole video game industry, until today.
On the other hand, the film made him also, as from 2002, to evolve the zombie flick. Sometimes, and for the better, it was staged – when the know-how of a producer was pushing to its limits the gimmicks of the film of zombie (think 28 weeks later), or when the cinema of kind (zombies-movies + found footage) and gameplay of the video game merged together, as in [REC°] … But more generally, this evolution came from the fact that the minimalism evocative of the first movies of zombies, the technical, the implementation of the scene or the scenario, made it little by little up to the grandiosity of the digital and the specifics compounded of the zombie, thanks to the technology; the zombie evolved with the cinema itself, and its management of the special effects. Then we witnessed a hollywoodization of the zombie-movie, the [gaming] I am legend with Will Smith, World War Z with Brad Pitt: still a better show and bankabilité, less and less depth. The zombie lost so much of its flavor as it becomes an accessory rather than a subject, as evidenced by the recent teen-movie-dystopian exploiting the concept, The Labyrinth , and Hunger Games. It is necessary to return to independent cinema to find a minimum of subversion, the more light (Welcome to Zombieland) the more significant (Pontypool).
Similarly, in the field of video game, the hunt of man by the zombie became more and more hunting zombie by the man, with a great number of ways (pyro)techniques, cf Dead Rising, Resident Evil 5&6, or other Left 4 Dead. The Exception, again, of the fabulous the first Dead Space , which took to the letter the ingredients of the first Resident Evil ,with a staging of the ultra-modern.
Small special case: the movie The Road (2009), a post apo, rather than a zombie flick, but which, nevertheless, remains a major reference in terms of the atmosphere, narration, environmental, or construction of characters – whether it’s film or video game.
And then, arrives in 2013, the video game that put all the world agree by recycling absolutely all of the bases referred to above: THE LAST OF US, by the studio Naughty Dog.
The game took the party to work its characters and its environment as much as the action and its implementation, while returning to the base of the video game Resident Evil: survival (count the balls and adjust his shots, flee as soon as possible). This creates a very unique rhythm, also contemplative but intense, both in action and in emotion. The Last of Us was based on a gameplay-type infiltration-action wonder by its delicacy as much as its simplicity, gameplay generator of tension and emotions. Technically, the game was a slap in the graph, in that it dates from the 6th generation of consoles (the era of PS3 / Xbox 360). Not only a question of technique, but also of attention to detail, to the service of an artistic direction, having reflected on and integrated with 100% in all aspects. From costumes to many sceneries, passing by the design of the zombies. The Last of Us it is also a game-sum, of moments and interactions between protagonists Ellie and Joel, between the two of them and the other characters, between us players and all of them, a careful attention to detail phenomenal fashioning a universe which is rich and dense, so that a story expressing in the set, a certain nihilism very against the current of the canons of the game-video AAA**, or even the cinema.
There was absolutely nothing original in The Last of Us, but a certain genius in the reorganization of influences and gimmicks at the service of a unique sensibility, by means of the stage and the gameplay, the narration, the story, the emotion and interactivity. A bit like what Tarantino since Kill Bill. Results in a total work, to mark the imaginary indélébilement, in the same way that the works we are talking about since the beginning of the article.
What is interesting, is to see the influence that THIS video game may have had on the cinema. It is not a matter of visual patterns for the coup, but rather a way of approaching the stories, the universe, and the characters.
I noticed, for example, about The Rover (David Michôd, 2014), that his narrative, environmental extremely subtle but also very significant, and the nihilism hardcore of his protagonist, borrowed enormously in The Last of Us. More recently, The Maze 2 is returned to him also, by his narrative, environmental, or by some visual ideas as the one of the two buildings crushed against each other (an ouroboros artistic that said). Even more palpable: Logan, with his duo of Wolverine X23 singeant the one formed by Ellie and Joel, as well as his tone intimate in a universe yet extrêmemnt rich (one of the X-men all the same)
“The Girl with all the gifts, a work controlled but without a personality of its own” Click To Tweet
With THE LAST GIRL, we have the impression of seeing almost the same as the case of The Last of us. In its reasons, scriptwriting and emotional :
=> scientific justification for the zombie apocalypse by a fungus destroying the faculties of the brain, => use the symbol of childhood (innocence ?) as a remedy to the epidemic,
=> investment of the urban environment in disarray by people “digging the decor” to search for clues on what it is spent,
=> conclusion of nihilism, where feelings and empathy towards the characters come to upset the notions of a happy ending…
But also in the background, as work generally under control (in some scenes virtuosos, through his photography, his direction of actors, his direction, or merely in its management of the means of production-limited) based on a quantity of significant influences… The difference perhaps being that is clearly missing from THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS this extra soul and personality to be more than just a sum of influences – the image of The Last of Us.
YOUR OPINION ?
* TPS = Third Person Shooter = game shooter third person; the player is visible on the screen
** the AAA games are works whose means of production/distribution/communication are proportionately equivalent to those of the blockbusters of the cinema.
The article was written on January 18, 2017 on the occasion of the presentation of the film at the festival du film fantastique de Gérardmer. It has then been updated with the release of Logan.
• Achievement : Colm McCarthy
• Scenario : Mike Carey
• Main players : Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close Paddy Considine
• Release Date : June 28, 2017
• Duration : 1h52min