Film Analysis: White Zombie

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How Does Entertainment from the 1930s Express our Past Fears? The Great Depression was a time of economic hardship in the United States that lasted throughout the 1930s. The collapsed economy left both upper and lower class American families poor and unemployed for nearly a decade. This period was one of the longest lasting economic tragedies to ever hit the states, which struck fear in the majority of the population. Entertainment, such as film and literature, provided an outlet for people to express these cultural fears. In the film White Zombie, the director Victor Halperin uses the metaphor of disfigured zombie bodies to portray the connection between the fear of ego death and loss of autonomy in order to the demonstrate fears people experienced…show more content…
The multitude of losses that Americans felt were expressed figuratively in the film with the use of zombies. The zombies in this particular film are lifeless corpses that have been brought back to life by Haitian voodoo. The main physical difference between the zombies and an average person is the eyes. All the zombies have wide, white eyes that gaze blankly at the world. When the wealthy Haitian plantation owner Charles Beaumont is transformed into a zombie, his eyes lose their life and he loses his soul. This transformation metaphorically expresses the loss of pride men felt once they lost their jobs and power due to the Great Depression. The eyes are representative of the economy, as it fails and loses the life it once had. The loss of jobs are symbolic of his soul because once you are turned into a zombie you lose an important part of yourself: your soul. White Zombie uses body limitations, such as Charles Beaumont’s lack of speech, to also express fears. The zombies in the film are mute and unable to express themselves once they have been transformed. This is a metaphor for how people during the Great Depression felt about their situations. Most experienced poverty at the time, but had no way to speak out against everything they were going through because the whole nation was having the same issues as
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