Warm Bodies is one of the most delightful, funny and heartfelt films of the year (so far). The story of how the dead is renewed through love will leave you laughing and smiling long after you leave the theater. What is most fascinating about the film is how much it has to say about humanity, our deepest longings and our quest for acceptance and love.
R is a zombie, he doesn’t remember how he became one, it’s just his life. He and the other zombies wander around the airport, day in and day out with no meaning to their dead existence; only head into the city when it is time to find some living food. The living have created a massive concrete barrier around part of the city to keep the corpses (the living’s name for the zombies) and the bonies out (a bonie is the next evolution in the corpse development, it is devoid of any thought other than feeding on it’s next victim. All corpses become bonies eventually, they fully give into the hunger that drives them and it creates a monster). The bonies are a chilling metaphor for a life lived completely selfishly. The death that happens when a person gives into all their base instincts and cares nothing for others leaves a person rotten inside and irredeemable. It’s ugly but it’s an important reminder that life is not about selfish fulfillment, it’s about living in loving community.
R is a bit different than the other corpses, he wants something more. His home is one of the abandoned planes at the airport that he has filled with mementos of life before the apocalypse. Vinyl albums, trinkets and memorabilia of every kind surround him. He wants to remember what it meant to be alive and to connect with another being. The only way for a corpse to get any kind of feeling or connection is to eat the brain of a human; it gives the corpse the memories of the human and reminds them, for a short time, what it was like to be alive. On a raid into the city for food, R and his group run across humans who are lead by Perry and Julie, they are looking for medicine and supplies outside the wall. R and his group attack the humans and in their attack, R spots Julie. She is defending herself and R is captivated. In the midst of the fight, R eats Perry, Julie’s boyfriend, and obtains all of his memories. Against all his instinct as a zombie, R saves Julie and brings her back to the airport of the dead.
One of the beautiful things in this movie is to watch what is dead become renewed and redeemed. Julie has understanding, compassion and grace on a completely unworthy corpse. This acceptance and in the end love rejuvenates and reawakens R’s heart. He becomes more alive than ever before. Julie sees that there is more to this corpse than just some dead and irredeemable thing. She sees past the facade and sickness to the true being that is still inside R.
What R wants is of what all humans are searching for; we feel dead and we long to be awakened, known and loved by another. There is a drive inside of us that says “something’s missing”. We long for connection yet we feel dead inside with no idea how to achieve our desire. Now the answer in the film, as it is with most films, is to say that fulfillment comes from love. The answer is partially right. Love is the answer, but not love of just another human (even though this is important to have). The kind of love and acceptance we are longing for cannot be given by another human. We are selfish and sacrificial acceptance and love are not within our power to give each other constantly. There is only one that can love unconditionally and without end. Christ came to save us and offer us love and joy to the full. Like Julie, Jesus knows there is more to us, we have been created for life, eternal relationship and connection, yet we are trapped in death; so he came so that what was dead might be made alive and new again.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV)