Matchup of the Day: Warm Bodies vs. Sunset Blvd.
Get ready for two films narrated by a dead guy – Warm Bodies vs. Sunset Blvd.
Well, being narrated by the deceased isn’t the only similarity these movies share. They are both about trying to preserve memories. In Sunset Blvd. a once famous silent film actress, Norma Desmond, spends her days obsessing about the career she once had before the emergence of the talkies. She lives in a decaying mansion with her butler, who vigilantly protects her from the reality of her dwindling fame. He even sends her fake fan letters. The new Hollywood generation has mostly forgotten she exists. There’s one scene when she visits her old studio after many years of absence. One man, upon hearing she has returned, says that he thought she was dead.
Warm Bodies takes place after a zombie apocalypse. The main character, only known as “R”, is an unusually sentient member of the walking dead. He has little memory of who he once was. In the narration, he explains that the only way to create memories is by eating the brains of the living, which allows him to experience his victim’s memories as his own. When his group of zombies encounter some humans he kills one of them and devours his brains. The girlfriend of his victim, Julie, is also present, and so “R” begins to feel human affection for her because he now shares the fond memories of the boyfriend.
By happenstance, a struggling screenwriter, Joe Gillis, ends up at Desmond’s Sunset Boulevard home after his car breaks down. When Desmond finds out his profession she offers him a job doctoring up a screenplay she’s been working on. She believes it will be her ticket back into stardom. Gillis thinks the script is irredeemably bad, but agrees to work on it. Desmond insists that he stay at her mansion. Eventually, she becomes his full-fledged sugar mama, which Gillis goes along with because he knows Desmond is lonely and unstable. This arrangement doesn’t turn out well for either of them
“R” takes Julie back to his zombie bachelor pad under the pretense that he wants to keep her safe from his fellow flesh eaters. He really just wants to hang out with her. Julie finds his human-like behavior endearing and sticks around for awhile, that is, until “R” admits to eating her boyfriend. She leaves “R” and returns to the walled city where the rest of the living dwell. She realizes that she has feelings for “R”, however. And “R” also has feelings for her, which leads to a positive transformation.
Both the walled city where Julie resides and Hollywood are barriers for the “R” and Desmond. After his interaction with Julie, “R” starts to feel human again and actually begins to change. He wants to be among the living once more. Desmond has longed to be a part of Hollywood since the end of her glory days. Neither character finds that they are welcome. The difference between the films is that in Bodies “R” starts to remember how to be human again and improves. Desmond ends up trapped in her memories of the past. Her only great return to the spotlight occurs in her head. The primary villains in Bodies are “Bonies”, or zombies that are so far removed from their memories of being human that they are true monsters. In Sunset Blvd., Desmond is so tormented by her memories of faded stardom that she, too, loses touch with the person she once was.