The premiere series “The Last of Us” promotes the idea that only a child can save the world, which is inside everyone.
This week ended the premiere of the 9-episode post-apocalyptic TV movie “The Last of Us”, based on the cult game of the same name. He had sensationally high ratings from both critics and viewers (1, 4 and 6 episodes – 100% positive reviews). What did he catch? A deep study of the characters, their relationship with each other, reliable details related to both everyday life and the consequences of an epidemic caused by a parasitic fungus. All social institutions are badly depicted: dictatorial city-states, revolutionary organizations, communities, sects. The girl Ellie in the picture is the conscience and, perhaps, the savior of mankind. The idea is carried out in the series: only a child inside us can save the world mired in mud, and the family gives the meaning of existence. The Last of Us demonstrated for the first time that a game series can be a complex, multi-layered, artistic warning statement.
The series “One of Us”, based on the video game of the same name, released 10 years ago, broke all sorts of records in popularity and was highly acclaimed by critics. Why? By placing humanity on the brink of survival, he showed: what in this hell has an imaginary value, and what has a real one.
According to the plot, one ill-fated day in 2003, the parasitic fungus Cordyceps got into flour, people ate products from it, and it got into people’s heads, turning humanity into uncontrollable zombies. Of course, the authors here went for an exaggeration: in fact, this person safely eats Cordyceps, but as for insects, yes, this is how the parasite deals with them.
A mass infection begins, people-mushrooms transmit the infection to healthy people through a bite and off they go. Here, the main author of the project, Neil Druckmann, an American of Israeli origin, uses the commercial formula of Steven Spielberg: everyman – catastrophe – survival.
Once upon a time there was an ordinary family
Ordinary family: father Joel and teenage daughter Sarah. Father-builder agrees on the phone about the contractors. He has a brother Tommy. Then breaking news on TV, pandemonium on the streets, while trying to leave the city, Sarah dies – she was shot by a soldier. Such is the tie.
20 years pass. They tried to destroy the infected cities with bombardments. Little is left of civilization. Joel has become a dangerous smuggler – everyone is afraid of him. The states are infested with mushroom zombies. There are dictatorial city-states, revolutionary organizations, communities, sects, gangs. Joel is instructed by the Cicada revolutionary organization to deliver the miracle girl Ellie to the hospital across America: it turns out she is immune to Cordyceps. Medicine can be obtained from her blood. Road movie starts.
What is good, what is bad
Not without reason, Nick Druckmann named the 14-year-old heroine Ellie after the savior girl from The Wizard of the Emerald City (1939) by Alexander Volkov – this is a creatively retold children’s fairy tale by the American Lyman Frank Baum “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” (1900). Until the age of 11, Nick lived in Israel, where there are many immigrants from the USSR, and he probably knew Volkov’s fairy tale.
The Israeli origin of the author can also be caught in the fact that practically all conditional social institutions that have arisen as a result of an epidemiological catastrophe, but based on violence, are shown sharply negatively. But the commune where Joel’s brother is found is depicted as a relatively normal place. It is known that Israel is famous for its “kibbutzim” – communes, where rather complacent morals.
Another “heaven on earth” in the series is shown in the form of the peaceful life of gay smuggler couple Bill and Frank. Bill had long ago made something like a fortress from his house, fenced with electric wire. Instead of a fungal zombie, a refugee Frank once fell into a dug pit-trap. He taught to appreciate and love the life of the hermit Bill and even came up with the idea of sometimes calling guests – fellow smuggler Joel and his girlfriend Tess. “I used to hate the world,” Bill told Frank. “And then, when it all happened, I realized that I was wrong. But I found a worthy person – you.”
The couple has an exemplary life: everything sparkles, the serving is of the highest standard, the music library. Their relationship is extremely pastoral. In 2023, Frank, suffering from a degenerative disease, asks Bill for euthanasia. Bill, not wanting to live without a lover, kills them both.
The left-liberal ideals of Nick Druckmann are also felt in the demonstration of the love relationship of two teenage girls Riley and Ellie (before her trip with Joel). Although it all looked very innocent: the girls roaming around the abandoned shopping center, just kissed.
Conscience girl and the pinnacle of evil
As I already mentioned, Druckmann negatively showed communities where violence reigns, but at the top of the conditional pyramid of disgust is a sect that resembles a religious one.
Its leader is allegedly Pastor David. Pastor in Latin. “shepherd”, but David peculiarly “shepherds” his group. On the surface, he is strict and fair, but when he captures Ellie, it quickly becomes clear to which god he prays.
“I always had a cruel heart,” David admitted to the girl. “And then the end of the world happened. And he showed me the truth.” “Who is he? Lord?” Ellie asks. “Cordyceps. He is fruitful. He breeds. He feeds and protects his offspring – for the sake of the future.”
David replaced God with a fungus. And the “pastor” liked Ellie, because she is also “strong, not a sheep.”
“You eat people, you sick bastard,” Ellie says defiantly in his face when she sees a severed human ear in the corner of the cage cell.
Ellie is the voice of conscience. She constantly “built” and Joel, asking him uncomfortable questions. “Have you killed innocents?” she once sternly asked her guide, looking into his eyes. “Let’s move on,” Joel ducked, looking away.
When necessary, Ellie is able to restore order with a weapon in her hands, like, for example, the Old Testament Judge-hero Samson (from the Book of Judges of Israel). And after her accusation of cannibalism, David begins to make excuses that in this way he is trying to solve the food problem in the group for which he is responsible. But for Ellie, he is a moral freak. And his attempt to rape the girl further strengthens the audience in this thought. There was an attempt on innocence and childhood, which in the series is elevated to a cult.
Childhood and nature: giraffes forever
The main light for Druckmann is in three things: childhood, family and nature.
Despite the sometimes raging zombies, nature in the series is shown perfectly. Joel and Ellie move through the most picturesque, snow-capped mountains. Northern lights, stars, campfire gatherings. Joel, even during such a halt, remembered that he could play the guitar and then teach the girl the instrument. Pedro Pascal (“The Mandalorian”) is expressive during such lyrical scenes – it is clear that his Joel is becoming more and more attached to Ellie, who replaced his daughter. And the girl, played by Bella Ramsay, truly loves him more and more: “I will follow you everywhere.”
A child is hope: both real and the one that everyone has inside. Ellie makes gloomy Joel laugh by reading him a humorous book. Such a joke. “The radiologist must not tell a lie” – “Why?” “He sees right through you.” “How stupid!” Joel exclaimed and began to laugh: his inner child had awakened.
The pinnacle of the connection between childhood and nature is the scene where Joel and Ellie meet giraffes in an empty city. Feeding these magical animals is the main attraction in any zoo today.
The salvation of this world, attacked by Cordyceps, is carried by a child in the face of Ellie. Yes, only for the sake of this they will ask Joel in the final too high a price.
And he won’t agree to it.
And he will do it right.
Everything worked in the TV movie: the idea and the entertainment. For example, in a tense moment of negotiations, the car suddenly falls into a failed tunnel, from where tons of mushroom zombies will start to jump out – a great twist (an incident that changes the situation).
Enjoy (if I may say so in relation to horror) viewing!
Trailer for “The Last of Us”
Leave a Reply