A sense of place holds a certain importance within each person. To an individual, it is how they decide who they are, or who they will become. For example, a stereotypical American will proudly boast that they come from the United States of America, that they are a free and proud American! Their sense of place, the location they call home, has changed them over the years to become who they are in present time. So what happens when that sense of place is taken from you, and you are forced to create a new one?
Zombieland (2009), directed by Ruben Fleischer and starring Woody Harrelson, Jessie Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, and briefly, Bill Murray, explores this theme of losing one’s sense of place. While it is very much obviously located in America, the characters call each other by the location in which they come from for majority of the movie, like Columbus and Tallahassee, the country (and possibly world) is generally referred to as ‘zombieland’, or even ‘z-land’ at one point.
The characters no longer think of the world they live in as one that we may know outside of this movie. How can they when majority of the population has turned into zombies. Eisenberg’s character, Columbus, even briefly refers to how the country has changed: “Oh, America. I wish I could tell you that this was still America, but I’ve come to realize that you can’t have a country without people. And there are no people here. No, my friends. This is now the United States of Zombieland.”
The change of one’s sense of place can alter how one views the world around them, and how they view others. This movie makes me wonder what other places are like around the world, with Zombieland now existing. The viewer does get a small insight into how people have adjusted, like Bill Murray’s character, living amongst the undead, simply accepting their fate, but others, like Wichita (Stone) and Little Rock (Breslin), still have hope that there is some version of normal still in the world.
If your sense of place was suddenly ripped from you, and you were thrust into a brand new world, what would you do? Accept that it is what it is, much like Murray, survive by following rules like Columbus, or search for that last beacon of hope like Wichita and Little Rock?
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Zombieland. 2009. Film. USA: Columbia Pictures.