The Hands of Bresson

Sundry observations on the art of cinema and world film culture

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Night of the Living Dead

Zombie films have had a seemingly endless purchase on the imagination of film critics and cultural theorists of every stripe, from Noel Carroll to Annalee Newitz. Though the dominant paradigm of such scholarship is decidedly left-political in orientation, focusing on American consumerism, “monster” capitalism, racial tension, social unrest, and other sordid anxieties of modern life, some philosophers have even come to blows over the very concept of zombies in such rarefied places as the Journal of Consciousness Studies. Now it’s neurology’s turn to take a whack at these flesh-eating icons of cinematic horror.

Was George A. Romero a proto-neuroscientist with an uncanny understanding of how the human brain functions, especially under extreme duress?

That’s the cheeky contention of Dr. Steven Schlozman, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School, who’ll introduce a special “Science on Screen” presentation of Night of the Living Dead at the Coolidge Corner Theater in Boston on Monday, April 13. Over at Brainiac, Christopher Shea has an excellent concise summary of Schlozman’s core ideas, extracted from “mirror neuron” theory(!), and how they apply to Romero’s zombie-film cycle. He also has a brief quote from the crimson-collared (not -spattered) psychiatrist of the undead himself, who explains why Romero’s characters are always doomed. Quite a fun post.

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Written by eyemaster

April 10, 2009 at 7:40 pm

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