A loose adaptation of “I am Legend” written by Richard Matheson, The Omega Man is a film that appeals to the social conscience of its viewer. Charlton Heston plays Army Colonel Robert Neville, a scientist, living in post-World War III Los Angeles. Neville finds himself the last man on earth after taking a experimental vaccine for the disease that wiped out humanity a few years before. Those who are left are infected and have bound together as “The Family”, inspired by the real life events of Charles Manson and his ‘Family’. Members of this group who are living with the effects of the biological warfare, believe that the problems of humanity were caused by the sciences they developed not the socio-political mistakes that caused this world war between China and the Soviet Union. They view Neville as a symbol of that time, a “refuse of the past” and want him “discarded” (Matthias – film). As Neville constantly fights for his survival he find he is not the last man on earth. He comes across a black woman named Lisa, played by Rosalind Cash, and finds that there are a handful of children and a young medical student, who while infected, have not yet turned like the albino disillusioned “Family” members; they still look human. He uses his blood to try and save those that are left and falling in love in the process. While both the book and film main focus is on post war apocalyptic America, a subplot of the film is its racial undertones.
Matthias: One creature, caught. Caught in a place he cannot stir from in the dark,
outnumbered hundreds to one, nothing to live for but his memories,
nothing to live with but his gadgets, his cars, his guns, gimmicks... and yet the
whole family can't bring him down from that, that...
Zachary: Honky paradise, brother?
Matthias: Forget the old ways, brother, all the old hatreds. (film)
With “I am Legend” being influenced by its era of McCarthyism and Matheson’s involvement as a soldier in World War II,...
Cited: The Omega Man. Dir. Boris Segal. Perf. Charlton Heston, Rosalind Cash, Anthony Zerbe, Lincoln Kilpatrick. DVD. Warner Brothers, 1971.
"Rosalind Cash." Internet Movie Database. 10 May 2008 .
Midnight, Ryan. "Movie Review: the Omega Man." Geeks of Doom. 12 Dec. 2007. 10 May 2008 .
Heston, Charlton. Interview with John Gizzi. Human Events. 1997. 10 May 2008 .
Matheson, Richard. Interview with John Scoleri. The I Am Legend Archive. 2001. 10 May 2008 .
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