Sunday, April 10, 2011

Night of the Living Dead

The film "Night of the Living Dead" (1968) relates itself to black civil rights issues occurring in the US during the 1960s. The film is also known as a "landmark" film for its early use of a black actor in a leading role that could be played by anyone - showing that anyone, no matter what race, is capable of doing the job well. Had the director not cast a black as the leading role, none of these social and political arguments could have been made.
The technique of black and white/light and dark, represents good and evil in the film. Ben and Barbara (protagonists) are seen wearing light clothes compared to the other characters, and the during the night the outside where the zombies roam is dark and hard to see into.
Throughout the film we see different portrayals of whites as stubborn, passive, and idiotic and the black protagonist, Ben, is illustrated as both the hero and victim. The other main character, Mr. Cooper, plays the role of the stubborn white who is un-accepting of Ben’s ideas and knowledge. The hierarchy of the house and undermining of Ben by Mr.Cooper are a parody of blacks in a white society.
Despite the fact that Ben is the only person in the house to survive the night after much struggle against the zombies, as he looks outside in an effort to escape the house, he is shot, killed, and burned by the white zombie lynch mob. As the only black in the film, Ben stood no chance of surviving his white oppressors.
I enjoyed this film and found it to make a good argument about social and political issues, but had I not known it was made in the 60s, I may not have been able to make these connections.

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