12 August 2009

Writing on Reading: I Am Legend

Many people are familiar with the movie "I am Legend," but fewer are familiar with Richard Matheson's novel of the same name. Even though the movie came out fairly recently, the novel has been around since 1953. In some ways, the novel was before its time because it predated the fascination with vampires that is rampant in fiction today and the also (less) popular post-apocalyptic setting. The first 2/3 of the novel is very good, despite showing its age a little. The last 1/3 or so of the book is strange--and not, in my opinion, a good way. It is basically a series of short stories only tangentially related to the rest of the novel.

One interesting aspect of the novel was comparing it to the screenplay for I Am Legend. (This is actually the third film based on the novel--bonus points for those who can name with other two WITHOUT doing a web search). This was one of those rare instances where the screenplay was better than the novel. (Another note: I'd give credit to the screenplay's author, but it appears several authors worked on it as it was developed and I'm unclear on who did the version that finally got filmed). Not only was the ending better in the screenplay, but I thought the screenplay did a better job of playing up the drama of the situation, making the protagonist more sympathetic and believable, and making the vampires scarier.

17 comments:

lesleylsmith said...

Ha. One of the movies was "The Last Man on Earth". I have no idea how I know that. Brains are very mysterious!

Anyway, I thought this movie was quite good. (Will Smith strikes again!). And you are not making me want to read the book, Editor Dave. :)
Thanks for the info!

Don said...

The other is Omega Man starring Charlton Heston (Last Man on Earth starred, iirc, Vincent Price). What can I say, I'm a movie freak.

Don said...

Oh, and on interpreting screenwriter credits. & separates co-writers. "and" separates different drafts. Writers are listed from initial draft to last draft, so after the last and, you'll find the screenwriter(s) who wrote/revised the shooting script.

David E. Hughes said...

Wow--

I'm impressed with both of you--you are right!

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