Tuesday, July 9, 2013

World War Z (Forster, 2013) & Baudrillard

World War Z (Forster, 2013) has been a pleasant surprise this summer for fans and reviewers alike who expected the worst. The film contains a few flat moments, yet as a whole it is strangely endearing. I walked out of the theater into the sunlight midday and found my entire psyche altered -- I love it when a film can do that. This film was all about the gaze: Pitt's character Gerry Lane looks back at the destruction, always one last time: out of a plane window, through a pulled curtain -- so we can see things we hope we never see.


The film's apocalyptic vision presented in in CGI brings to mind the opening paragraphs of Jean Baudrillard's essay "After the Orgy":

"If I were asked to characterize the present state of affairs, I would describe it as 'after the orgy'. The orgy in question was the moment when modernity exploded upon us, the moment of liberation in every sphere. Political liberation, sexual liberation, liberation of the forces of production, liberation of the forces of destruction, women's liberation, children's liberation, liberation of unconscious drives, liberation of art. [...] Now everything has been liberated, the chips are down, and we find ourselves faced collectively with the big question: WHAT DO WE DO NOW THE ORGY IS OVER?

"Now all we can do is simulate the orgy, simulate liberation. We may pretend to carry on in the same direction, accelerating, but in reality we are accelerating in a void, because all the goals of liberation are already behind us, and because what haunts and obsesses us is being thus ahead of all the results -- the very availability of all the signs, all the forms, all the desires that we had been pursuing. But what can we do? This is the state of simulation, a state in which we are obliged to replay all scenarios precisely because they have all taken place already, whether actually or potentially. The state of utopia realized, of all utopias realized, wherein paradoxically we must continue to live as though they had not been. But since they have, and since we can no longer, therefore, nourish the hope of realizing them, we can only 'hyper-realize' them through interminable simulation. We live amid the interminable reproduction of ideals, phantasies, images and dreams which are now behind us, yet which we must continue to reproduce in a sort of inescapable indifference."
-- Baudrillard, translated by James Benedict


At the same time, World War Z seems to contain a certain humanity to it that can't entirely be regarded or discarded as simulation.

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