Wednesday, 17 July 2013

World War Z on a couch



I never know to what extent are films and books analysis going beyond the intention, but intentions are never the only things at play. Hence, I'm going to develop quickly here a study of “ World War Z”. It is only a study of the film as I have not read the book.

There are two elements I have perceived from this film. The first part of the study, is influenced by the fact I have followed some seminars by Laurence Rickels, for three years now. I have also read Sigmund Freud and Slavoj Zizek, who are the other psychoanalysts of films and literature that have influenced a bit my understanding of the film.

Brad Pitt suffers from the abandonment as a father figure. He has been asked to quit his job, and feels in such a way castrated. I'm hypothesizing that the decision to stop being a father ( but a stay at home “ mother” figure) came some time after the death of his father, so he feels guilty – quitting his job was like killing his father. This ambivalence of feeling – wishing to be a man without killing the father – can only be resolved in one way, says Freud. The only way to redeem this neurotic stage is to kill himself, like Jesus did, so he can accept himself as a father, having punished himself. Ok, it might not be clear at first.

Let's try again. There is one taboo in society: do not try to be your father. Your father is all powerful and knows best, also he gets all the girls in town. We do though have to kill our father to accept ourselves as we are. Comes the tricky bit: if we kill our father, we are run by guilt, we know it's bad because things might run amok ( check the definition) – and if things run amok, our brothers might want to kill us, and so will our sons. So we have to feel better, hence we sacrifice ourselves, to feel better, to feel redeemed. Weird, I know, but it somehow works, for psychoanalysts and Christians.

Boom ! First part is done and explained.


But wait, the best part is yet here. Though we can have the psychoanalytical reading set on the protagonist, the protagonist might just be the personification of a societal observation.
What does it mean ? I'm not entirely sure. The film has clearly been financed by the U.S. Defense department, and this guys know what to do in films. So, what can we learn from their message ?

One: dictatorships are the best. Indeed, if we observe where the zombies emerged from, we understand that democracies are prone to zombyfication: India, South Korea, United States ( yeah, I know, hardly a democracy – except in the eyes of the american public). But let's see the countries that escape zombyfication... The first one, on top of the list, is North Korea. North Korea is the only country to have no zombie at all because they have, in 24 hours, taken out all the teeth of everybody.

Ok, that does make sense. The problematic sub-text of the film is Israel. Israel has a government that for the last decade, didn't recognize the right for self-determination of the Palestinian people and has grab their lands. Israel has been condemned for that, but somehow, in the film, that's what makes Israel a strong country: their capacity to make walls. Their capacity to reject a part of humanity is what keep them alive for some time in the film – also they have a highly effective intelligent agency, we're told again in the film. The interesting bit though is that once Israel decides to accept Palestinians and protect them, the celebration for that peace is the cause for the zombyfication. Zombies arrive just at the moment of peace celebration....

Which made me wonder about the last country ( not counting the Belorussian plane that saves our hero). The United Kingdom is the country that saves the world. Is is an undemocratic country ? Well, it is interesting to ask. The undemocratic technie that saves the world, in the film, is what the U.K. Is best at at the moment : Surveillance ! The film projects most of the part in the United Kingdom through CCTVs. The cameras are finally useful as they let know everybody were the zombies are and what to do against them.

Ok, so the Department of Defense prefers that there is no trias politica principles. No balance of power and no accountability to the people, because it tends to slow us down. And that is where I'm stuck. Ok, we become Zombies when we want what is right. To get rid of zombies, we have to kill ourselves, we have to transform ourselves, to become effective at killing zombies. I do not understand what the Department of Defense asks of us through the psychoanalytical self-sacrifice. Do they understand democracies, as killing the King to become our own Kings, give us ambivalent feelings - and they do as we want problems to be solved faster but with justice - ?

I wonder what they ask of us. Our neurotic hero has to lose his family to realize that he really wants to be father and that he cannot be run by his sense of guilt ( that made him loose his libido). Have we lost our libido through democracy, or through the fact that we do not believe in it anymore ? What does it mean to kill ourselves in this sense – and for what ? Do they want us to choose for ourselves, or is there an intention ? I'm just not sure.
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