Science of the Living Dead

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This week The Science & Entertainment Exchange hosted a screening and panel discussion of George Romero’s latest zombie film, Survival of the Dead at The Director’s Guild of America. (See photo on right, from left to right) Author Max Brooks (World War ZThe Zombie Survival Guide) moderated the evening. On the panel were director/writer George Romero, Epidemiologist Robert Smith? (yes, his name has the question mark in it, no error there), and Medical Psychologist Dr. Steven Schlozman.

The film, inspired by the classic western The Big Country, is legendary director George Romero’s most recent installment in his zombie canon. An allegory for the senselessness of war and a commentary on human nature, the film focuses on two feuding families on an island off the cost of the US after a zombie apocalypse. Ideology on whether or not the zombies should die or be kept undead separates the two warring factions, however simple hatred for each other is what fuels their fighting at its root. The film ultimately asks its audience to consider at what point we lose focus on why we fight and have war for war’s sake.

After the film, University of Ottawa’s Dr. Robert Smith? and Harvard’s Dr. Steven Schlozman spoke on the general “science” of zombies. As it turns out, Dr. Smith? taught us, the only way to defeat the zombie pandemic is to hit it hard, repeatedly, and with increasing force. Dr. Schlozman gave insight on why teenagers make bad choices and how their brains bare certain similarities to those of zombies – a real “ah ha” moment to parents in attendance.

The night truly proved that there are teaching moments in every film. From a flesh tearing zombie movie, the audience gained fun insight into the nature of viral spread and the best strategies to stop epidemics as well as a unique look into the inner workings of the human brain and psychology. The scientists entertained as they educated and the audience laughed as they learned, which is at the heart of everything The Exchange hopes to achieve.

All in all, the evening thrilled and enthralled, the perfect way to kick off a series of film screenings to be hosted by The Exchange. Stay tuned for our next big event.



The statements and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the event participants and do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for this event or of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.