Friday, September 23, 2005

Christopher Hill + Zombies = Happiness

I am rather looking forward to this weekend. It will be filled, largely, by Seventeenth Century English revolutionaries and hordes of flesh eating undead. What more could one possibly want?

I should say, at this stage, that, yes, I really should go to London for the demonstration. It's a very important demonstration at a very important time and I realise that I should be putting my money where my mouth is on this one. However, for various reasons I shall not be there - the greatest of which is pressure of work. Excuses out of the way, then, let's get on with the rest of the post.

In between mugging up for teaching and editing a chapter, I'm hoping to get down to some serious reading on the English Civil War. I'm sure I mentioned somewhere before that I've an interest in that period of English history, and, furthermore, a particular interest in the puritan/radical protestant movement(s) at the core of the anti-Royalist forces. Despite this, however, I've never read anything substantial by Christopher Hill - probably the finest Marxist historian of the Civil War (or Revolution as he prefers to term it). I hope to go someway towards filling this criminal gap in my reading this weekend. I got The World Turned Upside Down and Puritans and Revolutionaries out of the library today. It's the first time I've actually been excited at the prospect of reading a book in quite a while. I'll maybe get a blog post out of it in the next few days - you lucky people.

What I'm most excited about however, is Romero's latest zombie-fest Land of the Dead (out today), which I'm hoping to see tomorrow or on Sunday. I assume that most of you will have come across Romero's Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead (one of my favourite films - the original not the substantially de-politicised remake) and Day of the Dead. If not - give them a try*. Even if you're not particularly keen to watch people trying not to be eaten by lolloping gaited gangs of dribbling zombies (which, it has to be said, pretty much sums up the central plot of each of these films) - give it a go, because there's much more to the films than ghoulish thrills. Romero is famous for injecting a substantial dose of (often very subtle) political satire into his films. As Channel 4's review of the film remarks 'Romero always said he wanted to make a zombie film for each decade, using the allegory of the undead to reflect the times.' Accordingly, then, early 21st Century (Western/US) political and social concerns are never far from the surface in Land of the Dead. The Graun's review remarks that:

It is tempting, and enjoyable, to read this movie as a comment on race and class in America: the zombies are leading a kind of unending, futile spartacist uprising against the Wasp rulers in their shopping malls and thousand-dollar suits. On the other hand, the zombies could be a comment on undead America - the cultureless, valueless service-economy drones in their trailer parks and project housing.

The War on Terror and indeed the War in Iraq looms large over this film too.

Incidentally the Curmudgeon has a couple of very readable Romero reviews**. I'm looking forward to his review of this one.


Just checked the cinema listings and it looks as though I won't be seeing Land of the Dead this weekend, after all. Clearly, the 'national release dates' published in film reviews do not apply in the North/the sticks/not Londonland. Bloody Londoners etc etc...

*I should confess, here, that I've not actually seen Day of the Dead all the way through, but I can certainly vouch for the other two.
**I'm sure there's more than one Romero review on the Cumudgeon's site (?). Only found that one on a search though.

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