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March 3 - March 16, 2013

Finding peace in zombie-human love

By Sister Helena Burns, FSP


Warm Bodies” is a post-apocalyptic zombie love story. More precisely, a zombie-human love story. But, of course, zombies were once human, so it’s not that much of a stretch.

The opening scene is a young male zombie shuffling through an airport, surrounded by other zombies, narrating his typical day’s activities for us. In “Bodies,” zombies are called “corpses.”

Zombie “R” (Nicholas Hoult) can’t remember his name. He can’t remember how he died, or much of anything else. He can’t think, sleep, dream, feel, bleed, etc. Human Julie (Teresa Palmer) is the daughter of the acting leader of the embattled humans (John Malkovich) who lives sequestered behind “the wall,” safe from the zombie world.

Zombies must feed on humans’ brains to stay alive, er, dead. When they eat brains, they have access to humans’ memories. (Note: “R and Julie” are reminiscent of a famous couple.)

When R’s cadre of roaming zombies comes upon some humans, including Julie, a feeding frenzy begins. In the midst of the carnage, R falls in love with Julie — as best he can, that is, with his non-functioning heart — and saves her by bringing her to zombie land, where she must pretend she is a zombie to survive. He informs her that she must stay there for a few days, but it’s only so that he can begin to woo her.

Lest someone think “Bodies” is a one-trick pony, it’s not. There’s more going on. There’s a third “species” called “boneys.” Boneys are zombies who have “given up.” Both zombies and boneys will eat humans, but, as R states, at least zombies “are conflicted about it.”

Boneys are vicious skeletons — stronger and more powerful than zombies. They eventually become the common enemy of both zombie and human.

Although all films worth their salt are meant to be journeys of change, the overwhelming message of “Warm Bodies” is that people can change. A lot. And love is the only catalyst, primarily male-female love.

“Warm Bodies” is not only a theology of the body movie for all the obvious reasons, but — even if unknowingly — it has showcased male-female love as the crux, the matrix that brings love into the world and brings peace to unlike, warring factions.

The YouTube video “Zombies vs. Jesus” sums up the “hunger” that is really beneath all this zombie-mania today. Hint: It’s eucharistic.