When I was asked by the Calgary Diocese to write a movie review about the theme of my talk, "Love Thy Body," at the upcoming Theology of the Body Conference at St. Michael's Church (March 8-9), the film that immediately came to mind was "Warm Bodies." "Warm Bodies" is a zom-rom-com. A zombie romantic comedy. In fact, I teach a short workshop "Theology of the Body According to Zombies."
Zombie “R” (Nicholas Hoult) can’t remember his name. He can’t remember how he died, or much of anything else, except that, as a human, he didn't live a very good life and he has come to deeply regret that. Human Julie (Teresa Palmer) is the daughter of the leader of the embattled humans (John Malkovich). Zombies, of course, must feed on humans’ brains to stay alive, er, dead. When they eat brains, they have access to humans’ memories. It’s the only way they can experience anything of what they once were as humans themselves. "R" is re-learning and savouring how precious it was/is to be human, body and soul. But there's a way to love ourselves--body and soul--and truly enjoy and appreciate life in all its fullness, and way not to.
"R" falls in love with Julie--as best he can, that is, with his non-functioning heart—and saves her by bringing her to zombie land (she must pretend she is a zombie to survive there). He informs her that she must stay there for a few days, but that’s only so that he can begin to woo her. Sneaky, those zombies.
Although all films worth their salt are meant to be journeys of change, the overwhelming message of “Warm Bodies” is that people can change for the better. Massively change. And love is the ONLY catalyst. Primarily male/female love. “Warm Bodies” is not only a “Theology of the BODY” movie for all the obvious reasons, but—even if unknowingly—has showcased male/female love as THE crux, THE matrix which brings love and life into the world AND can bring peace to unlike, warring factions. TOB principle: “All differences are a call to communion," not competition, oppression or domination.
Movie review by Sr. Helena Burns, fsp
Sister Helena Burns, fsp, is a member of the Daughters of St. Paul, an international congregation of Roman Catholic Sisters founded to communicate God's Word through the media. She has an M.A. in Media Literacy Education, a B.A. in theology and philosophy from St. John's University, NYC. Sister studied screenwriting at UCLA and Act One-Hollywood. She is a movie reviewer for Life Teen and The Catholic Channel –Sirius XM and co-producer on www.The40Film.com. She has written a Theology of the Body curriculum: www.tinyurl.com/TOBtraining and her daily book for young women is “He Speaks to You.” Sister offers Media Literacy & Theology of the Body workshops & courses to youth & adults throughout Canada and the U.S.