When one hears the title I Am Legend being mentioned, they usually associate it with Will Smith and the terrific job he did in portraying the protagonist of the story Robert Neville. However, what they typically leave out is the equally terrific job done by author Richard Matheson coming up with the storyline and writing the original book version. While Richard Matheson’s post-apocalyptic science fiction book, I Am Legend, and Francis Lawrence’s post-apocalyptic science fiction movie, I Am Legend, both have similarities and differences, in the end, the original book version prevails mainly because the movie version alters the original storyline too much.
In the movie, Robert Neville is a scientist who was unable to stop the spread of the terrible virus that was incurable and man-made. Immune, Neville is now the last human survivor in what is left of New York City and perhaps the world. For three years, Neville has faithfully sent out daily radio messages, desperate to find any other survivors who might be out there. But he is not alone. Mutant victims of the plague, the infected, lurk in the shadows...watching Neville's every move...waiting for him to make a fatal mistake. Perhaps mankind's last, best hope, Neville is driven by only one remaining mission: to find a way to reverse the effects of the virus using his own immune blood. But he knows he is outnumbered...and quickly running out of time (Warner Bros. Pictures).
In the book, Robert Neville is living in a world full of nightmares. He is the only surviving human in a population that has been turned into vampires. He has managed to fortify his home against his predators and spends his nights locked away. His life is a lonely one. Everyone that he knew was either killed by the vampires or became one. During the day, he seeks out and kills the vampires. He tries to fix what they have broken. His life is a constant battle to survive against extremely harsh odds. Richard Matheson writes about a man of exceptional ability and resources in I Am Legend (“I Am Legend Summary”).
Francis Lawrence’s movie adaptation of I Am Legend falls under the genres of science fiction as well as thriller. The production budget for this movie was estimated at about $150,000,000 and the box office for the movie was $256,386,216. The movieing Locations were in New York, New Jersey, California and the featured actors were Will Smith, Alice Braga, and Charlie Tahan. Awards won by this movie include World Soundtrack Award, Teen Choice Award, MTV Movie Award, Golden Trailer Award, and Saturn Award. The main critical reception for this movie was while most critics agree that the performance by Will Smith was exceptional, they believe that the movie itself was the complete opposite (IMDb).
The main literary element used in the movie to help plot progression as well as assist in character development was flashbacks. Flashbacks played a big role in clarifying the plot and also giving background information on Neville and his family. Without the flashbacks shown in the movie, the plot would not have made sense and many viewers would be left very confused. For example, through the use of flashbacks, it is communicated that Neville is still hurting from the loss of his family as well as the outspread of the disease. Being the only uninfected human pays a toll on his mentality because he has no interaction with others. Another element used was foreshadowing. During one of Neville’s flashback, his daughter kept trying to get his attention because she wanted him to look at the butterfly that she was making with her hands. He wasn’t paying much attention to her because he was too busy focusing on getting them to safety. Towards the end of the movie, Anna is explaining to Neville that she believes she can talk to God and that God told her to find him. She said that it was all in his plan but he didn’t believe her. Then Neville sees a tattoo of a butterfly on Anna’s neck and everything made sense to him....
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