I got through re-reading this book this week, and it made me remember why I so loved this story. This was one of the required readings I had to do when I took the class On the Superhuman in UCSB taught by the incomparable Dr. Laurence A. Rickels. Or was it his Psy Fi class?
Whatever the case may be, when I saw the trailer for the movie this summer I knew I had to reread the story. I mean it had been 1998 since I read it, and years of booze, debauchery and chemical reactions have made certain synaptic connections a bit fuzzy. (I guess you could call those years my early 20s, but isn’t that the case for most people?)
The trailer just left me a bit hostile. Never mind the fact that I don’t like Will Smith, but the plot of the movie didn’t jive with me. From what I’ve gleaned, the beginning of the movie is more true to the original story. It details Robert Neville’s day-to-day life as the last man on earth. That’s sort of hard to fuck up, right?
It’s the ending where they deviate from the book and apparently where it completely bombed. From what it sounds like, they dumbed things down to create a sort-of happy ending. I guess there’s a colony of surviving humans in Vermont, and things are all right in the end even though Will Smith sacrifices himself.
In the book, the ending is much more Twilight Zone-esque where a group of vampire/human hybrids who learn to live with their disease come after Neville. Right before he’s executed he realizes he has terrorized this group much like the dead vampires have terrorized him. His last thoughts are, I am legend.
I guess that’s the problem with studios. To maximize their bottom line, they have to slaughter a story to fit a pro-religious hopeful ending mold to sell tickets. Whatever the case, it is yet another instance where I’ll just stay away.