Pitt blockbuster has political themes under its surface
NEW YORK (AP) -- Brad Pitt's "World War Z" imagines a world overrun by a zombie pandemic, leading to an unlikely new global power structure.
Two of the few countries that have kept the zombies at bay are Israel, which shelters Israelis and Palestinians behind a wall, and North Korea, which has removed the teeth of its citizens to prevent zombie biting.
It's a curious portrait of geopolitics that's left some moviegoers scratching their heads. Is a wall of unity for both Jews and Muslims in Jerusalem an ironic commentary on the West Bank barrier being constructed by Israel alongside Palestine? Or a suggestion that a wall -- which resembles the Western Wall -- can be a positive force in the Middle East?
There's little time for rumination on such questions in "World War Z" before the next swarm of zombies attacks. Any whiff of foreign policy contemplation is snuffed out by the stampeding undead, who seem about as interested in politics as the average summer moviegoer.
But in their wake, some have questioned just what, exactly, "World War Z," is saying about Israel.
"Will (foreign moviegoers) conclude that the filmmakers (are) saying that Kim Jong-un and Benjamin Netanyahu are the wisest leaders in the world, except that Kim is a little bit wiser, because he's uncontaminated by humanitarian sentiments?" wrote Hendrik Hertzberg for The New Yorker. "North Koreans still have a few teeth in their0 heads, but Israel has already built a wall. Will foreign audiences, or potential audiences, interpret the film's message to be that the only thing wrong with the existing wall is that it's not sealed tight enough?"
The Los Angeles Times' Steven Zeitchik wrote: "In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a wall is a heavily fraught symbol. But here it turns into an instrument of peace?"
Any murkiness is partly the result of the tortured, rewritten path to movie theaters taken by "World War Z," which opened last weekend in North America with a higher than expected $66.4 million at the box office and plans for a sequel.
The film is loosely based on Max Brooks' 2006 novel "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War." Modeled on Studs Terkel's Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Good War: An Oral History of World War II," Brooks' book is a collection of dispatches from around the globe years after a zombie outbreak.