What Makes ‘The Living Dead’ My Film of 1968 – J. Hoberman


From George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, 1968

“The movie that was ‘1968’ was a multi-screen extravaganza orchestrated by a mad projectionist who kept changing reels. From a New York perspective, the reverberations of late 1967’s two great shockers, Bonnie and Clyde and The Battle of Algiers (which had opened the New York Film Festival), were still felt when the first great movie of 1968, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, opened at a moment of intense euphoria—the golden week between LBJ’s abdication and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., complete with the architect of the Prague Spring, Alexander Dubček, on the cover of Time. Things were already spinning out of control when La Chinoise, Jean-Luc Godard’s ambivalent portrait of Parisian Maoists, materialized for a week at a commercial theater in early April, one day before Dr. King was shot and a few weeks before student radicals occupied several buildings at Columbia. The exploitation film Wild in the Streets—which recast sex-drugs-and-rock’n’roll as a political movement—was released in Los Angeles on the same day that students took over another building and remained in theaters through the presidential election. Over the course of its run, the vision of a twenty-something pop star president who spikes the nation’s drinking water with LSD served to prophesy and allegorize many things: Yippie fantasies, student uprisings in Paris and elsewhere, China’s Red Guards, the Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy campaigns, and the debacle of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. That fall, an even more apocalyptic vision of societal collapse materialized when Godard’s Weekend had its American première at the 1968 New York Film Festival. Weekend, which marked the zenith of Godard’s American popularity, may be definitive for many. Still, the quintessential 1968 movie then and now remains Night of the Living Dead, made by George Romero, John Russo, and their fellow employees at a Pittsburgh film lab. Parodying the paranoia of rightwing editorial writers, Wild in the Streets was not of the counterculture but about it—and imperfectly at that. It remained for Romero’s collectively made and far grimmer exploitation film, which was shot during the traumatic spring of 1968, like Easy Rider, in the American hinterlands, to embody the chaos that Weekend represented. In our Midnight Movies, Jonathan Rosenbaum and I joked that the title Night of the Living Dead suggested a beat poet’s characterization of the evening news. …”
NYBooks
W – Night of the Living Dead
Guardian – George A Romero: the zombie master whose ideas infected American cinema
YouTube: Night Of The Living Dead 1968 Trailer, George A. Romero Talks ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and Zombies, Night of The Living Dead – Scenes from the 30th Aniversary Edition 17:52

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Movie and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s