This summer we’ll finally get to see the beleaguered, oft-delayed big-screen adaptation of Max Brooks’ bestseller World War Z. It’s kind of amazing that it’s finally hitting theaters, so it will be interesting to see how the film is received by both general audiences and suspicious fans of the book. So far we’ve a couple of trailers and lots of set footage, but the thing that stands out the most are the film’s zombies, portrayed as sprinting, swarming hordes that clamber atop each other to scale over walls or even, in the official poster, reach a rising helicopter. That’s a huge departure from the zombies of the book, but now the film’s star, Brad Pitt, has explained why World War Z decided to give the zombies an upgrade.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Pitt reveals the scientific inspiration behind the athletic undead:
The book focused on slow zombies. We chose to be more dynamic in that we wanted to base all of this on science. So it’s ‘What if we had them move like ants? Or a swarm of bees? Or birds or a school of fish that’s being chased?’ One of the first [questions] we asked was how to portray the zombies and how to do it differently because it’s been done so many times and been done pretty damn well.
The whole fast-vs-slow zombie argument has been raging since at least 2002’s 28 Days Later… and 2004’s Dawn of the Dead remake, and I doubt either side will concede anytime soon. Really, it’s just a matter of taste, but at least World War Z’s swarming zombies can add a third front to the battlefield. Say what you will, at the very least it makes for some impressive visuals.
Pitt also alluded to the film’s long and troubled production by referencing scenes shot in Budapest, but not included in the final film:
At the time I was really interested in a more political film, using the zombie trope as a kind of Trojan horse for asking: ‘What would happen to sociopolitical lines if there was a pandemic like this? Who would be on top? Who would be the powerful countries and who would be the most vulnerable? We wanted to really explore that, but it was just too much. We got bogged down in it; it was too much to explain. It gutted the fun of what these films are meant to be.
World War Z opens in theaters on June 21st.