Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I Walked With a Zombie (1943)

Today's film is I Walked With a Zombie.  No, it's not the zombies I normally think of - mindless beings with an overwhelming urge to eat people.  It's more like the legendary zombies of Haiti where the dead are awakened as mindless slaves.

Betsy is a nurse in Canada who is sent to the fictional isle of San Sebastian to care for a sugar-planter's wife. His wife, Jessica, appears okay but is in some sort of stupor following a high fever.  Soon we learn about the voodoo beliefs of the locals, but don't worry, this isn't The Skeleton Key.  It's more or less a sweet love story with terrible acting.

I wish I had gotten a chance to see Jessica as she was before her illness.  I know that she enjoyed breakfast in bed while lying on a lace pillow, and I know she liked brioche, but what about her personality?  She fell in love with her husband's half-brother, does that make her a terrible person?  I don't see her as an overall materialistic person, especially with no stores on the island.  I feel for her, being trapped between a controlling mother in law and an abusive husband, wanting to be with someone who loved her but never can.  Her husband told Betsy about his wife trying to leave, and that he told her "he would keep her by force if necessary" and that she made him do things.  If someone hurts you and then says that you "made" them do it, that's an abuser.  Sure, he regrets it now because she's all but dead to him.

Is Jessica a zombie?  No.

How do I know this?  She drowns.  A zombie cannot die by drowning because they are already dead.  But what about her walking towards the houmfort?  Earlier in the film she frightened Betsy as she walked up the stairs at night.  Now she's walking towards the gate.  She's sleepwalking, like she does many nights.  But now she's dead, and this gives a chance for the beautiful nurse to be with the handsome widower, just like they wanted.

Overall, this is a meh film with great lighting and cinematography. I will give it a 6/10.


  1. I definitely think one of the strong suits in this movie is not over-villainizing the villains, if that makes sense. Jessica, by the end of the movie, is meant to be "bad," as is her lover Wesley, so that when they are "destroyed" we feel some sense of justice. But I sympathized with Wesley, and as you point out, there's definitely something sympathetic about Jessica as well. That's pretty unusual for a movie from 1943.

    1. Yes, I did like how the characters "badness" is not so cut and dry. It makes it better when it's not so obvious.

  2. "Meh with great lighting and cinematography" describes my feelings exactly!