The Zombie Rights Campaign Blog

‘World War Z’ Director Admits to Extremely Loose Adaptation of Book at Best

When you hear things like ‘the spirit of the Book’ you should know by now that the final product will bear extremely little similarity to the literary work that you loved (or in our case, hated):

You had to guess he’d say things like that. The book doesn’t have an easy, straightforward narrative ripe for adaptation like most popular books. It’s told almost completely in flashback meaning very little is ever at stake for the main character. Plus, the main character isn’t that “main.” He’s more of a conduit for the other characters. “Your humble narrator,” if you will. If you cast Brad Pitt in a zombie movie, he can’t just walk around talking to people the majority of the time. He needs to be in the action constantly. So, changes had to be made and – thankfully – they’re incorporating some of the imaginative and horrifying scenarios Brooks filled his book with.

Actually, no, they’re incorporating basically *none* of the Brooks scenarios, since ‘World War Z’ is a snarky and bleak social satire primarily focused on attacking human apathy in the face of easily identified but difficult to solve problems.

A slow moving ‘apocalypse’ is very different from a magical pandemic. The one humans can plausibly be blamed for allowing to proceed, and thus be held morally culpable (as Brooks does in his book). The other is a judgment from God, and there’s no point in condemning the smote as they writhe on the ground.

I mean, Max Brooks went one step further this year and made it EXPLICIT that the ‘World War Z-o-verse’ is an attack on apathy and inaction by writing a vampires-vs-zombies global warming story set in the same universe and releasing it online for free. We reviewed it here at the ZRC.

At this point he couldn’t make his critique much more obvious without taking to the streetcorners with a sandwich-board. ‘World War Z’ the book, dealing in dispassionate examination of the event after the fact, and the resulting traumas on survivors, lessons learned, and social changes, is by necessity a completely different animal from present-tense, super-speed super-Zombie ‘World War Z’ the movie.

Yet still the press coverage is devoted mostly to the ‘speed’ of the Zombies, rather than the complete jettisoning of the content of Brooks’ argument that results from this mass-market tampering.

I’m beginning to get the same feeling from the press on ‘World War Z’ that I often do when I talk to alleged fans of George Romero’s Anti-Zombie films: that I’m the only one in the room who actually paid attention to the what was happening on screen/the page. These are not subtle points that could be easily lost; they’re fundamental.

So why do they almost never come up in discussion? Did people really just read ‘World War Z’ for the splattery violence?

I wonder.

About The Author

The role of 'Administrator' will be played tonight by John Sears, currently serving as President of The Zombie Rights Campaign.


2 Responses to “‘World War Z’ Director Admits to Extremely Loose Adaptation of Book at Best”

  1. Martin Evans says:

    I’ve read the first two World War Z scripts and I’ve seen the fast zombie footage on YouTube. There is practically nothing of the book left except for the title.

    This is not an adaption. This is just Brad Pitt swinging his manhood at the audience between battles. From what I’ve gathered from interviews with him, he’s never even read the book.

  2. John Sears says:

    I really don’t get it either, whether Pitt read the book or not, liked it or not, he *did* go to the mattresses to get this movie made. Is it just that he smelled ‘action star’ potential? Is it savvy jumping onboard a trend? Or has he lost control over the project?

    I agree that it’s not an adaptation anymore. I think they lost that when they shifted to present-tense; in case no one noticed the subtitle of the book is ‘An Oral History of the Zombie War’. HISTORY. You can’t do a ‘history’ in present-tense!

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