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The Girl With All The Gifts Movie Review and Explanation

The Girl With All The Gifts is a cleverly insightful, inside out Zombie movie that avoids playing to the standard tropes or predefined assumptions. IMDB
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I have fantastic news for you all.  The Girl With All the Gifts is the best Zombie movie/book that’s come out in a while. It is tres good. I even told you about the book a forever ago, so I don’t want to hear it from you. No, shttttt. Stop. Anyway, it is so good that I’ve been dying to get my hands on the Glen Close movie that was filmed in England and released this past September. But I’ve struck out pulling in favors with the Queen to send me a copy until yesterday. That’s right, I finally snagged a copy to watch yesterday. And so today, I’m writing about my thoughts and insights on the movie and the book. And today (a different today than my today from a sentence or two ago) I’ve heard from Mike Carey, who has read this particular post and spoken from on high. Who’s Mike Carey? Only the creator of this fantastic book/movie. Ok? Great.

But better yet? I have news that The Girl With All the Gifts will be released on January 27th on DirectTV. There will also be a small theatrical run here in the states… which I will definitely be going to see if it gets within a state or two of my current location. Promise.

High Level Girl With All The Gifts Overview

Let me see if I can give you such a good spoiler free setup for this movie that you’ll be FORCED to go watch it.  Because, you know what? We can’t be friends anymore unless you watch it. See this list I have over here? I have a sharpie ready to be applied to your name. Crossed out. Nixed. Unless you watch it. Hahahha. Anyway, the movie starts with the book… at least for me it did. For Mark Carey, the writer, I hear it started with a short story called Iphigenia In Aulis. And then he wrote the screenplay and the book simultaneously. How one does this, I have no idea. Here’s Mark Carey on the process…

“The pitching process was very unusual, because I was working with Camille Gatin on a completely different project, and we’d got quite a long way forward in that development process. Then the rights were entailed away from us, and we couldn’t proceed any more. So there was a point when Camille turned to me and said, “Well, what else could we work on?” I said, “Maybe something post-apocalyptic?” She said “yes”, so I handed her my short story Iphigenia In Aulis. The short story was the pitch for the movie, just as it was the pitch for the novel. Everything flowed from that.”

So apparently, Iphigenia In Aulis was the elevator pitch, the screenplay draft, and the manuscript draft simultaneously. Once Mark – who has been a comic book writer forever – and Camille had decided that they were going to work on this story as their next movie, Mark began work on earnest on both the screenplay and the book. The story itself is clever in the extreme, it tells the story of a Zombie apocalypse that has crossed the globe. Beacon station is a research facility that has been going out and capturing some of the The Hungries in order to vivisect their brain’s and study the fungus that has attacked their nervous system. But in their comings and goings they have found a bunch of children that act like humans, but are still infected. And the scientists believe that maybe they could be the key to the cure for mankind. Maybe the trailer is the best way for me to show best what the book and the movie are all about.

And obviously, since it’s a zombie movie, everything goes to hell in a hand basket. And fairly quickly too. Thus the goodness that is Girl With All The Gifts… but for now, if you haven’t seen the movie, or read the book, I would highly advise you to leave now as I will be delving deeply into the internals of how the movie works and discuss the controversial ending. So yeah, leave now, or be ruined for this great movie that is soon coming to America… you’ve been warned.

The Girl With All The Gifts Book/Movie Storylines

I believe I have told you guys about the book here before? If not, I’ve been completely asleep at the switch. Oh yeah, just looked, definitely asleep at the switch. What is going on around here? The ‘Royal We’ definitely needs to step it up. The storyline of this idea is fantastic. So fantastic I would argue that it probably works well in either format first. Whichever you prefer.

But basically, as you saw from the trailer, the story is about a post apocalyptic London. The world (we think?) has been pretty well wiped out by “The Hungries” which are infected people, zombies, that live in a state of standing coma until the smell or hear something that sounds or smells like food. And then like a crack, they are off to the races. And yet, that isn’t how the book starts though. We start in the basement of a compound where scientists are holding classes with children that make the military handling them, extraordinarily nervous. We have no idea why. Because they interact like normal children, save for being all tied up and living in solitary confinement.

Soon it becomes clear that there are two groups working with these children. The several teachers that are being asked to learn from the children, and the scientists that are vivisecting and researching the children’s brains in search of a fungus. So that is the horror that is unfolding at the kickoff this story. And as story launches it’s one of the best. We obviously have a girl here… with lots of “gifts” of some sort… but what exactly? We don’t know. And she’s nice. And protective. And yet, everyone is carrying loaded machine guns around these children. What is going on? Well what learn is that Dr. Caldwell is on a search for a cure to the fungus and this facility? This entire outpost? Is studying these anomalous children who are infected but seem quite normal in some respects, in order to find a cure for this fungus. But soon the research facility is overrun by Hungries and our questions get put on hold.

In the book though, the huge question of the introduction is, what is at the other end of that hallway? Why do some children head out through that door and never come back? Such great screenwriting.

The Characters of The Girl With All The Gifts

There are three core characters in this story. Though, I’m sure, some would try and argue four. But they would be incorrect. The most important character obviously is Melanie (played by Sennia Nanua)… the girl with the said gifts. Second, I would argue, is her teacher, Helen Justineau (played by Gemma Arterton). And thirdly, would be Dr. Caroline Caldwell (played by Glenn Close). And it is this triad that is what makes this story work. Melanie loves her teacher Hannah. Hannah is torn by her duty to humanity and her love for Melanie. And Dr. Caldwell sees Melanie as possibly the best hope for what is left of humanity in the world. We also have Sgt. Eddie Parks… but he is just along for the ride in my opinion, providing protection and muscle so that this triad can have the real battle that matters.

The Journey of The Girl With All The Gifts

As Dr. Caldwell, Hannah, Melanie, and company try to survive the book and the movie diverge a bit. The book has a pretty significant with Junkers that the movie doesn’t have at all. Mark decided to focus on the story of Melanie and the virals in the movie because there just wasn’t enough time to include the Junkers. But I do believe it is an important revelation to realize that not everyone on the planet are Hungries. And to see that the ending has a more significant impact than just to Sgt. Parks specifically. But some of the key encounters, like the child with the rat in the local five and ten, are straight out of the book. Holy crap that scared me to death when I initially read about it in the book. I have yet to read the short story, but I will be reading it as soon as I can get my hands on it. But I’m curious to know about the details that germinated there and made it all the way into the movie version of this story. But I’m pretty sure the baby carriage and the child with the rat were in the original story. Had to have been.

The Virus Fungus Cordyceps In The Girl With All The Gifts

(Mike chimed in here… thankfully, and reminded me that there isn’t a virus at all, but rather a fungus called Cordyceps. Which makes perfect sense. Glad he straightened me out.) One important detail that plays out through to the end of the movie is the evolution of the fungus. Only problem? It evolves differently in the book and in the movie. In the book we are told that the special children are created by two zombies mating. And in the movie, the children with the gifts (for lack of a better name) come from women that were pregnant when they were infected… and their fetuses eating their way out of their mothers. This is a really important difference, and I have asked Mark for a comment, but have yet to hear from him (cut the guy some slack, that was exactly 1.5 hours ago) on that topic.

The path of the fungus’ evolution is critical to understanding this movie, and it’s ending. If version one of the fungus are the Hungries… and version 2.0 is the children with the gifts, then version 3.0 is the stalks growing out of the Hungries bodies? Does this then bring an even better evolution of zombie? Why does Melanie light the stalk? WHAT IS GOING ON? Personally think that the fungus evolution path after reading the book and watching the movie twice now, goes something like this:

  1. Cordyceps evolves and infects & creates first Hungry (a)
  2. Fungus spreads via blood or bite
  3. Zombies that mate create children with ‘gifts’ (b)
  4. Eventually the fungus overtakes the hungries and kills them
  5. Stalks (c) and plants grow out from the Hungries’ body’s.
  6. Fire spreads seed from stalks
  7. Humans that breath the seed become Zombies (a)
  8. Children with gifts mate and create version 4.0 zombie (d)

I’ll explain why I think step 8 is important in my ending explanation. Mike spoke into this evolution in fantastic detail. Why don’t I just wholesale let him tell you how the fungus evolution works? (Yes, I know… it’s a fantastic idea.)

“Addressing the question, though: yes, I see this very much as a changing of the guard, like the one that occurred when neanderthals died out and homo sapiens became the torchbearers for sentient life on Earth. I’m assuming that future generations, born with the fungus already in their nervous system, will maintain a symbiotic relationship with Cordyceps. They’ll still feel the hunger (so Justineau will never be able to leave the lab) but they’ll have the same level of intelligence and the same emotional range as normal humans. And they’ll make love and give birth normally.

“But of course the humans who inhale the airborne spores after Melanie’s fire will NOT be second generation. They’ll be mindless hungries, unable to think or feel. Melanie is destroying what’s left of humanity in order to clear the field for her own kind. She doesn’t do this with casual brutality, she does it because she sees it as the only course of action that allows any hope for the future. Otherwise, she believes, humanity will wipe out the second gen children in the search for a cure before finally dying out themselves.

“One further point about the internal logic. If you catch the fungus from a bit or from an inhaled spore, you’re directly infected – first generation. If you catch it through your mother’s placenta you’re second generation, and I’m making the assumption that this will be true whether your mother was infected before or after conception.”

Mike even was good enough to chat with me a bit that I posted separately from here, but there are many relevant bits there that impact how we think about the film and the book and the various deltas and differences between the two.

The Girl With All The Gifts Ending Explained

So your understanding of what happens in the end depends greatly on how you think the fungus evolves and is transforming. (Thus my previous section). But basically, after the final conflict between Dr. Caldwell and Melanie we are left with Hannah and Melanie. And Melanie decides to head out to the massive Sequoia stalk and light it on fire. Now, in the book, it isn’t a single massive stalk, but rather a redwood forest wall barring their way in really every direction forward. And so when Melanie lights the fire she is actually lighting a global fire that spreads the seed around the world. I wasn’t sure if that would be completely clear from the movie version of events. One other detail that may not have been 100% clear is that there is quite a bit of discussion about different germination and spreading techniques in nature. And it was Melanie that realized that it was fire that was desired method for spreading the seed beyond the pods. So she wasn’t trying to kill the pods, quite the contrary, she was actively trying to spread the fungus throughout the rest of the world.

Now, why would such a nice Zombie do something so mean? Right, about that. I think there are several reasonable theories as to why the heck Melanie would burn the world down at the end of this movie:

Theory 1 – Melanie was Getting Dr. Caldwell and Humanity Back

This theory posits that maybe Melanie just had had enough of humanity and their crap. What with almost being vivisected multiple times, and used as a Zombie lackey, she was done. The only person she really cared about at all was Hannah. And she put up with the rest of the humans specifically for her. So at the end, this was just her having had enough of humanity. I mean, it’s no skin off her back to wipe out the human race. The world would probably be better off from her vantage considering.

Theory 2 – This is just a local event

Another possibility is that maybe Melanie’s lighting of the big stalk was just a local and not a global event. True, the book cast that in a different light, but maybe in the movie version of events this is just Melanie guaranteeing that she was protected from the humans nearby. Yeah, I’m not buying it either.

Theory 3 – Burning the Stalks as Defensive Measure

Maybe Melanie was attacking the stalks as a way to protect herself from that future? Maybe she saw it as a way to push back against her own inevitability of death at the hands of the fungus and stalks within her?

Theory 4 – Melanie was bringing about the age of Aquarius 

Ok, so, not so much the age of Aquarius, but rather the final version or evolution of the fungus. By spreading the fungus around the world, she was ensuring that more and more children of the zombies will be born before the zombies are overtaken by the stalks. And then, maybe, if the children with the gifts grow up and have children, maybe there would be a version 4.0 of the fungus? Maybe an infection resilient or infection embracing version of the fungus? Which takes the strengths of the fungus, and leaves behinds the mindless zombie-ness?

But for this theory to work, you have to have a clear vision for how this fungus is evolving and growing. And one argument against this theory is the fact that Sgt. Parks, when he turned by breathing the seed in the air, turned just like as if he had been bitten. So my theory of the evolution of the fungus assumes that the seed from the stalks would just create a normal Hungry. But it is from the hungries that come the children with the gifts, and that is where Melanie had the vision and the foresight for the future of the earth. She was looking downwind (pardon the pun) and seeing that the world would be in a better place if only the whole earth turned and then had children that were less susceptible to the fungus overall.

Thankfully, Mike Carey jumped in and helped to clarify my perceived discrepancies between the book and the film and helped me to understand that either way (the book’s method, or the film’s method) that the Children With the Gifts are created from zombies reproducing. Whether they were infected before or after inception. Which then means, that either way, these children at the end? They are the hope for all of humanity.

What are your thoughts on how the ending works? What is your read on Melanie’s lighting the stalk(s) on fire? I have a good friend who told me while I was reading the book… ‘it’s a great book… except for the ending.’ And when I got to the ending of the book I was expecting Hollywood Triteness. IE, the stalks would free the Hungries minds. Or some such drivel. (Because he hates Hollywood endings as much as I do.) But when Carey doubled down on the ending, and dove into the insanity of this world I immediately fell in love with the movie. And to be clear, I’m still unclear why he hated the ending. Maybe because all the humans die at the end? Bah. Cry me a river. hahaha. What did you think of the book and the movie?

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  • Your theory makes sense. But still not convinced why Melanie would burn it and make Helen prisoner. What good will that do. And yes, the movie is great.

  • Which theory? After talking with Mike Carey and discussing his book and screenplay with him (http://taylorholmes.com/2017/01/15/interview-with-mike-carey-writer-and-creator-of-girl-with-all-the-gifts/) I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that Melanie was bringing about the final evolution of the fungus in humanity. She saw that it was the only way to get past this disaster… and that the kids, once they reproduce, would bring an even more “normal” human type being.

    And I just thought of this, if that is what happened, then what was this carnage that swept the world? Was it some sort of cleansing? Was it some sort of judgement? Possibly a restitution after human failings to the planet, to themselves? Something? Hrmm. Lorraine, you should read the interview I did with Carey and tell me what you think after that because discussed this exact thing and the anomalies between his book and his script.

  • Okay, thanks for that. I just read the interview with Mike. All your theories are plausible in my point of view for Melanie since she is said to be a smart girl or rather genius. But I think theory #4 seemed to be most likely reason she chose to burn the stalk, probably after talking to Dr. Caldwell, an idea snapped into her mind and convinced herself that the only solution to save humanity is not finding the cure from them (2nd generation, which might fail or succeed, no guarantee) but to create a new generation that will withstand the hungries to fill in the decreasing human race. I think she made the right choice after all, because normal humans have less chance of survival before finding the cure, than the hybrids (2nd generation) creating the next generation as hope for humankind.

    Sorry for my not so good english, it’s not my native language. Tried my best to share my thoughts on this movie. I love the movie but had a hard time understanding the actions of Melanie in the ending. Your review has totally enlightened me. Thank you so much.

  • Your English is fantastic. Wish I spoke a second language half as well as you do. My Spanish is ok just to understand what someone is saying – but awful speaking it. But regardless, kudos to you Lorraine!

    I definitely don’t disagree with your viewpoint at all. She definitely was up to something. Whether progressing zombies forward, or finding a cure, or something. The ending of this movie is definitely a very tricky one to understand. Which is why I found the author to try my best to get to the bottom of it and figure it out. But it’s still complicated!

  • The movie is good. The ending is also good. It sparks a lot thoughts, endless theories and moral standing.

    I think its the best represent of emotion versus logical thinking for example the arguments between the Doctor who claim that she can find the cure versus a child who sought to be genius resenting to be the “hero” by giving up her life for the good of mankind. Melanie end up decided that she wants to live and refuse to be the cure. Not only that she literally set the fungus air-borne free for what? For her own affection towards her own type species. You can see that when they being surrounded by child zombies, Melanie took charge and took down the childrens zombie leader. This may have been the most important scenes of all because this proof that Melanie has a sense of belonging towards her own kind. Most people may have not realize this when watching this scenes as it seems to display a courages and protective Melanie, but who does she protecting? Surely Two adults with automatic rifles can easily kill each one of the zombies kids and head back to the labs but Melanie had to step up for her own kind, and also to gain more trust from her human friend. Didn’t it bother anyone else when a kid like Melanie, capable of killing another kid (kid-leader-zombies) with such a cold hearted manner?

    In my opinion Melanie is not human anymore because of :

    1. Blood thirsty (obviously)
    2. Eager to learn like a mole/spy wanting to know more about enemies.
    3. Protective to her own kind – to extend willing to kill zombie-kid leader to save other zombie kids. She also said “they just want to live” meaning she had compassion to her own kind.
    4. She doesn’t feel or show guilty after she burn down tree that spread fungus via air.
    5. She definitely knows how to lie once she said – I’ll never lie.
    6. Melanie doesn’t care about humankind at all.

    In all, Melanie is not human. She is not in anyway to save humankind. Her brain is a subject to the fungus as a symbiosis but somewhat the fungus are the one in control. But yeah, its seem appropriate to have the zombies win in the end because, if not, this movie or any other zombie movies would just feel like a chicken pok disease and loose it apocalyptic feel.

  • Melanie had a choice to make:

    1. to sacrifice herself to save Hannah and all of mankind. (but we all know she would have done it for Hannah and not mankind)
    2. to set the stalk on fire, kill all of the humans, and surround Hannah with people that love her. AKA second generation.

    so its clear what she chose, and she understood that the second generation was building up an immunity, so perhaps 3rd and 4th generation the fungus would have been assimilated into nature in general. IMO i think she just wanted Hannah to herself.

  • I wasn’t understanding why she did that but this explanation makes sense. But I don’t understand how Hannah is supposed to live now. How is she going to eat etc.

  • No,you’re wrong about the part when you said she doesn’t care about humanity. When Parks told her to shoot him,she did so,but she cried too,alot. If she didn’t care,she would just kill him and walk away. Also when he came over,she said “I made sure to lock the air thing/door so that the gas thing wouldn’t get to them. If she didn’t care,she wouldn’t lock the door,she would just go to burn the tree.

  • Please help me answer this .. if the girl with the gift needs live blood to eat why should she turn all living things into hungries .. I mean I know why .. so they children can inherit the earth .. but what will they eat if every living thing is now a hungry? They gonna feed on birds and dog?? Why wouldn’t the dogs and birds turn after the fire?? Ya’ll missed this point .. please email me and lmk what y’all think .. ironkennel at the @01 dot c0m

  • Definitely animals. We saw this precedent in the movie itself. What do you eat today? Animals. The point is that they are heading towards human again, slowly but surely. Super-human. Of sorts.

  • Now that every living creature is potentially a zombie, what would these second generation children eat when they are hungry? Seeing that Melanie can’t control herself when she is hungry, wouldn’t she open the pod and attack Hannah ? Plus what would Hannah eat now that they can no longer pass her food from the outside?

  • Melanie ate animals throughout the movie. And so did I last night via the shape and form of a hamburger. I really think zombie 2.0 is more human than it is zombie.

    But you are right Hannah has a problem on her hands. But, Melanie will do absolutely whatever is necessary to keep Hannah safe. The two of them will keep Hannah’s scent off the table, and figure out a way to shuttle food to her somehow, right?!? Hahahah.

  • True! But i would think the animals might become hungries too? Now that the fungus is airborne

    Im just about to help myself to a big bowl of pasta

  • Hahahaha!
    No. I didn’t see anything in the movie that indicated that the animals were effected. Feral? Sure. But Zombie animals? Nah. I don’t think so. But sure, that would definitely doom her for sure if that was the case.


  • If everyone turns into a hungry from the airborne disease; then what are the 2nd generations eating? They will starve.

  • The book is a lot clearer. Melanie explains it all to Sargent just before she has to kill him. But the best line in the movie is when Melanie tells Dr. Caldwell, basically, since the hungry kids are alive, why should we die for you? It’s pretty clear the end is near for non infected humans anyway. Its not like dr. Caldwell could make the vaccine that quickly. And even if she could, the war between the hungries and humans would just go on and on. This way, a new generation of people is emerging, and Ms. J is the one who can educate them, to catch them up quickly on math and science, before it it is all lost.

  • Humans are humans because we’re able to control our appetite, we don’t psycho crazy when we go hungry and devour anything in sight. Humans survive because we make an create our own food, whether it’s cows for beef or farm vegetables. If human /zombie hybrid or human 2.0 can’t control their sensation to eat anything in site because they get into crazy zombie mode, there’s no way for human 2.0 to survive or become better than human 1.0. Plus, if Human 2.0 are carnivores only. I don’t see any improvements, it’s actually a downgrade. Human 1.0 can survive better because we’re omnivores, we can eat anything. Also, I don’t see how human 2.0 was a improvement in intellect, those feral kids acted like caveman. The author wanted to get a “ohhhhhhs and ahhhhhs” moment, but really didn’t think this through.

  • I have to agree. I’ve been pondering this for days since watching the film. Clearly there aren’t many animals left in their immediate vicinity, and given that the entire population is now infected, there’s even less chance of finding live animals, birds, etc to eat. What’s more, these are children. So even if they were to find a food source, they won’t have the patience nor capacity to house and breed the animals to sustain their numbers. My thought was that even though hungries don’t eat each other, 2.0 and further will resort to cannibalism in order to survive. Still, for how long? And how long does Hannah have? Her rations can last but for so long, not sure how she’ll get water (that’s not infected), and how long can Melanie keep the hungries from attacking her? Incredibly great movie though.

  • Terribly silly. Mindless zombies giving birth to the next generation of humans? Why wouldn’t those humans be mindless? Who are they going to learn social skills from? Who is going to protect them from predators, disease, the cold? It fails on every level to be anything more than the complete annihilation of human life in every form. Sorry, just another short sighted zombie story.

  • Read the book, and then tell me if it still doesn’t make sense. I’d be interested in your take on it.

  • What I am finding really interesting here is how fixated people are on details, minutiae. I just came from the PERSONAL SHOPPER page where everyone is fixated on Kristen being a ghost, that she got murdered, or died from her heart ailment, when there is nothing in Assayas abstract movie that even points to that. No one asks the simple question of what would be the point of her being murdered or being dead? They grab for anything that supports their POV, and they keep creating things that are not there to support their unwillingness to accept that she may not be dead. And I’m noticing the same thing here – people are taking this movie literally as opposed to objectively, which is fine if that’s how you enjoy a movie but sometimes it can be very baffling if you try to critique it from that viewpoint. It reminds me a little of watching SJWs confront anyone with an opposing view: they keep repeating the same thing over and over whether it is true or not; their POV is the only “truth” that matters.

    My point is, movies are an art medium and like any art form, it is not real on any level. To begin with, movies are only 90 minutes long and life does not happen in ninety minutes. Life is not scripted; we do not talk the way people talk in movies. There is nothing realistic about movie dialogue, even if people talk with correct dialects or pacing. A movie is first and foremost a condensation of life. Thus everything in it, is not literal – it is symbolic, even if it is trying to be literal.

    Movies and books take a theme and expand on it, but the timelines are condensed and manipulated to create drama. People are taking these manipulations and basing their critiques on them. Over and over, I read people taking the movie’s details and saying the author or director did not think through the plot because it does not make sense if Melanie sets the parasite on fire and destroys mankind. They continually argue that it will not work, that it is a dumb idea, that Helen is going to eventually die, that feral kids are not a good replacement for mankind, etc. And based on this, the movie is a failure to them. …Wow. That is a big leap. Is this an American thing where people quibble over minutiae and miss the big picture?

    What is the movie about? It is about zombies, yes. And it takes a more cerebral tack from the average slash and gore zombie cinema, which I personally have never watched, not liking those kinds of movies. This one I did watch however on Amazon, and I only watched because my da wanted to watch it; the movie being a UK production. After watching this, I can definitely say this is more a thinking man’s zombie flick: less on gore, more on story. I did find it interesting however when they cribbed from the video game, The Last Of Us, with the cordyceps fungi. Here’s a cool video that describes what it is because the cordyceps fungi actually exists. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuKjBIBBAL8 FYI, I have never played The Last Of Us but I have watched friends play it.

    This movie is full of twists and turns, and even though I am not a big fan of sci-fi/horror genres, I found this movie thought-provoking. My father and I had a very lively convo for at least an hour after the movie ended, eventually involving my sister and mother who did not watch it but we’re caught up in the debate nonetheless. What was the debate? What the movie was about – the end of mankind. There are many movies now that approach this theme, whether it is through aliens, zombies, comets, colliding planets; whatever floats your boat, it has been done.

    If you are a person who believes in evolution then this movie will speak to you. I personally do not, but I am not religious anyway, and you pretty much have to have a lot of faith to believe in evolution. That said, dinosaurs ruled according to evolutionist until mammals came along, and then man. Man with his superior intelligence outdistanced all competition and now rules the world until something threatens that rule. In this case, we have an alien fungi that has decimated mankind, but from this tragedy has evolved a highly intelligent child with superior strength. Mankind wants to use her to further themselves. But is this morally right? What does it say about man? We have dominated nature; we have subjugated the planet under our iron rule and we have pretty much destroyed it with pollution and negligence, not to mention how we treat each other with war, hatred, rape, covetousness, all the sins of the Bible. Do we deserve to live? I think this is the question the film and perhaps the book is asking. When Melanie is at first willing to die for humanity, she changes her mind when she realizes humanity is not very nice, in the form of Glen Close, who only wants to butcher her to find a cure. Who says she has that right? Who says another life form cannot rise up from the doom of mankind, just as mankind rose up when the dinosaurs supposedly died off from some plague, flood, comet, weather change, etc? Melanie chooses herself. The logic could be, yes, that she is better suited to survive over mankind which is weak and will die. Who is mankind to complain when we have slaughtered far more than this little girl ever will? Perhaps in this cinema narrative, it is time for mankind to end and give this world a new beginning. That is what this movie is saying. I think from most comments I have read here, everyone got that, yet they argue minutiae and judge the movie on why Melanie would kill mankind? But the movie is not about that. The movie is about the death of humankind, like the death of dinosaurs. How would it play out? This movie makes a cinematic conjecture for your entertainment.

    If you have a religion, Christian, Islam, Buddhism, etc, of which I do not subscribe to any, then how would this play out? The end of the world, Judgment day, God’s retribution for the sins of mankind, etc? Less powerful because each religion has its own cachet, logic or faith, so the end of the world would have to fit their narrative, but the same question can be asked: Does mankind’s propensity to be murderous, selfish, hateful and warlike outweigh his better points of love, charity and kindness? That’s for each religion to conjecture, but the thought remains the same. Do we deserve to live being what we are?

    The motif question obviously fits better in a sci-fi genre, giving the question more weight. Whether Melanie’s choice is a good one or not, is irrelevant. Why argue it? A child mutant zombie has decided to off the world so that she can survive as the next inheritor of the earth. That is so preposterous as to be almost…preposterous! :D So picking apart minutiae and saying it is not logical, is rather pointless. Whether Helen eventually dies is irrelevant. Whether the mutant feral kids are a better replacement is irrelevant. The point is the age of mankind is at an end; all hail the new queen.

    Was the movie any good? …It is a sci-fi zombie cinema. How deep can it be? Was I, a person who does not like horror or sci-fi, entertained? With my da by my side, watching any movie is always fun even if it is about zombies. Family-time well spent arguing the importance and value of human life cannot be trumped by how good or bad a movie was.

  • Hey Senta,
    Ultra busy the last couple days, but have been meaning to parlay. Love your contributions and your thoughtful insights. Please let your “Da” know he’s raised a smart young woman. And if he’s ever state-side I’d love to buy him a beer. His choice of movies has already made him a friend for sure. Hahah.

    This movie is interesting in that it is so not a normal Hollywood film. The ending is too nebulous by a factor. And oh, by the way, it kills all the humans on the planet willfully. Which means it can’t possibly be an American Hollywood film. Just can’t. Because we all know that an American, in a jet, will always save us from the aliens. Or the zombies. Or the Russians. It’s just the way it works. But to think that maybe, just maybe, there might be a better answer? That we need to willfully and strategically evolve in order to save ourselves for our own animalistic natures? No no no noooo.

    If you dug the movie, I really have to say that the book was a full factorial better. Way way better. And while I really did enjoy the movie… the thoughts and the concepts behind the frame were way more interesting and appealing. Fantastic book. Just recently ordered Boy on a Bridge which is the Carey’s latest book after Gifts. Can’t wait to get my hands on it.

    But if this isn’t your thing, per se, then maybe Clouds of Sils Maria is? Yeah, it happens to also have Kristen Stewart in it… but that isn’t why I recommend it. It’s a very European movie, with amazing dialogue. Gorgeous scenery. And beyond the pale acting. Very very nebulous movie that is fantastic for open ended thinkers like yourself… (and Dad.) If you’ve already seen it, we have been talking about it over here: https://taylorholmes.com/2015/04/10/a-complete-clouds-of-sils-maria-explanation-and-walkthrough/ for a while now. You can also find lots of other great movies to discuss on this site by hitting this link: https://taylorholmes.com/category/cinema/

    I’ve thought really seriously for the 30 to 50 of us that love talking about crazy movie theories about creating a forum where you guys could post your own threads and talk about whatever movie floats our boats… which would then tell me what movies to do write ups for! hahah. Seems like there are just too few people that really grapple with movies and turn them inside out in order to see what they are made of. But maybe that’s just me. We shall see… may still create a forum. Who knows if it would go anywhere even if I did.

    Regardless, thanks for diving in and commenting. Your comments are definitely insightful and well reasoned. I’ll be interested to find out what country you decide to become president of. The USA could use a better one currently. I’m sure we could get the constitution changed for you, in order to support your campaign. hahaha. I digress.

  • My da has noticed that I am spending a lot of time here. :) He does not mind. Anything mildly intellectual and he is fine with it. It keeps me out of trouble…not that I get in trouble. Real bookworm, this one.

    I am told THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is indeed quite different from standard zombie fare. I have never really watched a zombie movie, although I did watch part of the Brad Pitt zombie picture (forgot the name), and that was too intense for me. I watched THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS because my father invited me; and he watched it because he had heard of the book and also because it is somewhat of a UK production. The director was a Scot; I have seen some of his Sherlock series and Peaky Blinders. You pretty much have to be a fan of UK television to have seen them. Paddy is Irish and Gemma is English, so it is pretty much a non-American vision both in acting style and cinematic direction and outcome. It does not have the flash one sees in American productions. The Hollywood Machine/deep-pocket Producers (read that as billionaires) pretty much have a wrap on any movie they want to make. Subsequently, the much poorer UK production companies have to go for substance rather than flash because they do not have the money to do flash; at least that is how my da interprets it which I think could be true. If I give you a simple camera and tell you to shoot a story, you will be very frugal and go for substance or style like Cinéma vérité, etc, because you cannot do flash. If I give you five super expensive HD cameras with all the trim, lighting, unlimited editing, special effects companies, etc, then you might be tempted to shoot for flash and grandeur, and forget about the substance. My father’s logic is definitely sound.

    Books always trump the movie. A book can go on forever and utilize the greatest special effect machine in the world – your brain/imagination. Cinema cannot compete and it cannot afford to go on too long, so they have to edit and translate the book into film, which is a totally different medium. So, alas, books always suffer. Look at Harry Potter, although considering everything, Harry Potter did fairly well. I cannot say I liked THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS in the truest sense. Alone, I would never have watched it, or if I had started to I would have stopped as soon as all those kids started chattering their teeth and going feral. Bon sang! That was too intense for this French girl, but with my da to protect me as I squealed covering my eyes, it is all good. So on this note, I am not the best person to critique this movie because I am sure there is a lot I might have missed in what the director was trying to convey. My father and I ended up talking about the movie in a purely pedestrian vein. We took it for what it was – the destruction of humankind by natural selection. That is how we saw it and all the moral implications that go with it, so we were able to have a lively conversation which I shared here in an abbreviated version. My father and I were totally simpatico. My sister on the other hand, having only snuck peeks and snippets along the way (she was baking in the kitchen with my mother and aunt), saw elements of immigration and the destruction of Europe. Ouais! So you can see how a movie like this can inspire debates and conversation that can go on for hours, and if there is anything I like about this movie, that is it. It makes you think. I do not regret watching it.

    Of course, I have seen CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA! It is one of my favorite movies. Assayas! Bravo! I tell all my American friends to see it, although sometimes I fear because they must read subtitles and it is an auteur film, they may not be able to get into the dynamic, and true enough some of them did not care for it. So it goes to show that French Cinema is not easy for many Americans to get into. For instance, everyone back in France told me to see PERSONAL SHOPPER because it was somewhat controversial and open-ended. They wanted to know what I thought of it. I would say that 80% liked it, 10% did not know what to think so they wanted me to see it, and the leftovers either did not like it or were ambivalent. In America, however, I have struck out every time. I have watched the movie five times already with other people and none of them liked it and they could not understand the ghost story. Americans see ghosts and they expect it to be a ghost story and that is all they see. The rest of the story passed right by them. They thought it was boring, made no sense, did not like Kristen Stewart (people will not forgive her for TWILIGHT!) etc. So I am alone in America. :( No one gets my French movies.

    Are you familiar with Jacques Audiard? He is another established French director. If you can, see the movie, DE ROUILLE et D’OS, starring Marion Cotillard, one of my favorite French actresses. She plays a woman who works with whales and loses her legs in a freak accident – powerful cinema. It covers so many themes of life and redemption. I think you would like it. I have it in my iTunes and I have shared it with three American girlfriends and they loved it, even though they had to read subtitles. Another movie of hers is called, JEUX d’ENFANTS, a cute bit of fluff where two lovers consistently up the ante playing basic pranks, I guess you can call it, to cheer the other up. If an American were to make this movie it would have a totally different feeling and ending, but French sensibilities being what they are…well, you have to see it. I give nothing away. My sister said to tell you that in America, the movie is called LOVE ME IF YOU DARE, starring Marion Cotillard and Guillaume Canet. I think you would like it; it is a pleasantly dark French pastry with an ending every American would hate but is so French, and since you appreciated PERSONAL SHOPPER, then you will appreciate this one.

    I think having a page for random movies would be wonderful. I have many movies that I would recommend; movies that have haunted me and have me wondering what other people thought of them. It would work for me because I have not seen most of the movies you have critiqued. FYI, I am not a real cinemaphile. I like movies but I do not wait for them to come out. I like to read; I do wait for books. ;) So to allow people the freedom to start their own movie thread could be fun. The only drawback is you could start a massive glut of random data and increase the cost of running your website. I would probably start a thread of Kristin movies. :D In the last year I have become somewhat of a Kristin Stewart fan. I was telling Ari that my first intro to her was TWILIGHT which even at the age I saw it (I was the demographic, tweener), I knew it was trash. I tried to read the book and it was also trash. I was reading Thomas Hardy at nine, so TWILIGHT was absolute rubbish. For the life of me, I do not know how that book got published. I have skimmed through it recently (a friend owns the series) and the writing is positively horrid, absolutely. Grammar, syntax, everything; plot advance, character development…it is the worst written best-selling novel of the twenty-first century! Robert Pattinson savaged the book and the movie in the interviews. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFA6Ycch1EM Both he and Kristin were glad when the series ended. The thing is before Kristin made TWILIGHT, she was in a little low-key indie called SPEAK, that no one ever heard of. It was based on the award-winning novel of the same name. I saw it after TWILIGHT whilst still a tweener or thereabouts, and it was on the basis of that movie, wherein I forgave her for TWILIGHT. She proved to have acting chops. Since then I have seen her in WELCOME TO THE RILEYS, CAMP X-RAY, CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA, and now PERSONAL SHOPPER, and I liked them all. Kristin is good at playing disconnected people; probably because she is playing herself. She’s gotten much better at playing herself. :) I like her.

    Me, president? Why? You do not like Trump? :D …I know exactly what you mean (those hideous tweets, right; so un-presidential), but I will say this, in my limited sphere of influence and experience, amongst my friends, family, school, and countryman, Obama was a disgrace, and according to the people I know (and I have no political affiliation with American politics), Obama was the worst president America has ever had. Bush was bad, a cowboy idiot, but Obama weakened American influence in world politics and divided his own country in a way no standing president ever has, and his handling of the Arab Spring was catastrophic leading to the current state of affairs. Yet on top of that, Clinton was a known and proven criminal, and America almost elected her based solely on the fact that she was a woman. What does that say? …I do not know. I am just a French teen-age girl. I do not know anything. But America has a problem and Trump is all you have between turning into another Europe with no-go zones of ideological warfare and remaining a free society. http://www.wnd.com/2016/03/sweden-buckling-under-muslim-immigration/ …But I digress. :D

    Oi, I am a cheeky girl! My da is laughing next to me. Thank you, Taylor!

  • Senta,
    Here in America Sherlock and Peaky Blinders are pretty widely watched. My friends are not a good idea of normal… but they all watched blinders and even my non-geek friends watch Sherlock. If you dig Peaky then you obviously watched Taboo with Tom Hardy? I loved Peaky Blinders and yet I thought Taboo was a factor better. Man that was so much goodness and light right there. Hardy promised to do the movie Locke if Knight would write Taboo for him. And I’d be shocked if there wasn’t some other buy in on Peaky that was tied into that larger agreement seeing as though Hardy showed up on Blinders about the same time those were all being developed. I actually went to school in England for a bit, so I’m not really a great designator for normal here in the states. Just not.

    I think you were referring to World War Z? I could be mixing up your comments now. Not sure what you are posting where now! hahah. That was a movie that was better than the book. I really thought the book was quite dumb, terrible direction when it turned towards Russia, and instead of Iceland or Greenland, or wherever Carnahan took it in the movie. Such a good tweak (the avoid those who are weak) to the screenplay which allowed for a clever end solution. 28 Days Later is a zombie movie that also doesn’t really fit the normal genre. Basically the humans are really the bad guys… everything turns upside down. Really opened my eyes to what is possible in that space. But no, I’m not a zombie movie fan per se. Just like to find clever where ever it might be found.

    Movies like The One I Love. The recent movie I talked Ari into watching Shimmer Lake, The Discovery, indie films like They Look Like People, If There’s A Hell Below, etc… all push the envelope and walk away from the truly banal trend of Hollywood to pyrotechnically blow everything up instead of develop real characters. And yes, British/European films automatically trend towards the Indie world because of the lack of funds and massive budgets, which means better writers and more thought on the story. I’m all about this. All about clever ideas and fantastic characters over CGI all day everyday.

    Coherence! The Arrival! Time Lapse! Primer. But what about Shane Caruth’s Upstream Color? Out of all the movies i’ve mentioned so far, I would think Upstream would be the one that you’d dig the most. Gah! So many good movies, but still not enough! hahah.

  • This movie does not offer that much of a new angle as to how a person becomes a zombie nor is it original in its “fear of the loss of humanity” as was first established by the late George Romero, an American-Canadian filmmaker and father of the first apocalyptic zombie movie, the cult film of 1958, “Night of the Living Dead.”

    As viewers watch these kind of film genres they’re ready to go along with the horrific and absurdity of a fictional story’s creation…but only to an extent. It’s up to the writer or filmmaker to catch these mistakes. To know when outrageous events like “the hungries” devouring people, animals are accepted by viewers who are simultaneously observing scenes in the opposite direction; keeping watch, detecting plots in the film which seem implausible.

    What? A zombie movie we allow an escape from reason yet what just unfolded in a scene has suddenly become not worthy of acceptance? Unbelievable? Not credible?

    That pesky implausible scene occurs at the end of this otherwise good film whereby the possibly last human being left in a rather large expanse of released airborne zombie-creating-fungi-spores is able to continue to live in a building which needs air to breathe and offers no food or a finite amount of food for sustenance.

    The secure building’s mere technological value given is that it’s a really difficult barrier for a second-generation-hungry to break into. That’s it.

    The film needed a Stanley Kubrick bathroom scene. Seriously, it needed to prep the viewing audience by giving a glimpse of modern utility enhancements which act as a foreshadow of what’s to come, aiding in the continuity of believability a human could exist for some time in such an environment.

    Showing pictures of folks who used to live and work in same said building the last-of-humans inherits all the more confounds reason the building is sustainable for life since previous occupants were commented as all dead.

    It was “accepted” (depending on how much medical science one reads) animals and fowl were not affected since in real life many things which cause illness in people doesn’t transfer to animals and vice versa.

    But this was overall a good movie to watch but will not achieve cult status as Romero’s now colorized old black and white. An excellent article recently appeared through various media sources written by Stephen Marche, “George Romero’s zombies: Soulless, just like us.” It’s a good read easy to find on the internet.

  • Hey, L,
    I just got back from a quick family getaway. There is so much to see in this big country!

    I have never seen the original zombie movie, so I cannot comment much on your POV. Those kinds of movies do not appeal to me, no matter how philosophical the director tries to make them sound. It is still horror; it is still riddled with needless gore for the purely voyeuristic reason to watch someone get torn to pieces, and it has no redeeming value. They can tell me it has to do with communism and the neo-fascism that tore Europe apart with amalgamations of original sin and the Second Coming of Christ, and I would still say, “so what, pick another way to tell your story.” :D I simply look at it as the guy wanted to make a really gross and disgusting horror movie to rattle the cages of the bourgeois and critics made it into a classic about American values. …Whatever floats their boat, right? :)

    The title, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS, telegraphs the whole meaning of the movie. She has the gifts to survive natural selection, which to me is what this movie is all about. It is not trying to be rational; it does not try to explain every little detail. It is a story to make you think about what would happen, if like the dinosaurs, man became extinct. We think ourselves so high and mighty. This movie takes us down several pegs. It is a scenario of what could happen. An alien life form obliterates the weakest lifeform, in this case, man. The fungi does not affect other fauna or flora. It only kills man, living off human bodies until all food sources are consumed. What is interesting is they cribbed the whole idea of the cordyceps fungi from the notorious video game, THE LAST OF US. Many of my friends have played this game; it is about zombies and the seeming end of the world. A warning, the game is not for the faint of heart.

    Anyway, I watched THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFSTS with my da and I wrote about in the thread right above your comment if you are interested. I also have a link in my thread to a BBC nature production that tells you how cordyceps works. Reeeeally gross! I did not really care for the movie, because as already stated I am not a fan of the zombie craze, nor sci-fi movies in general, so I am not the best person to debate its meanings. However, I did watch the sci-fi movie, ARRIVAL, this weekend with my family and I loved it. We are still discussing it so it will be awhile before I go to Taylor’s thread and comment on what we took away from it. But to show you how moved we were by the movie, Maman cried at the end when it was revealed that the dead daughter had yet to be born, and the mother still chose to follow through. Wow. That just slams into you with all kinds of emotion. Very sad, but very hopeful. In the end, it is love that counts.

    I noticed you have a problem with the whole Helen scenario in THE GIRLS WITH ALLTHE GIFTS. Hmm…I think, and this is just something to ponder – when writing/directing a movie, you can choose to waste time on plausibility, or you can just tell your story. You can bog down your movie in needless scenes, or you can film the ones that keep the story moving forward. Helen is stuck in the trailer which is pretty self-sustaining for now. Will she eventually die? Of course. Was she meant to live for a really long time? Probably not. She will live as long as she can, and then like all humans, she will die. Next week, next month, next year; does it matter? To me, no. The director has told you a story and, true, every story no matter what the tale is, deals with plausibility; is it important here? Real life deals in plausibility/probability. But is it plausible/probable that a sedentary writer can die in a war next week? Highly unlikely, but probable. :D What are the odds of something catastrophic happening to you today? So if a director glosses over probabilities, we can also ask, are all things rational? No. Are humans rational? Sometimes; but mostly not. Look at the world.

    My point? Plausibility is not something we have to rationalize in a movie or book. The story and its theme are the point; if you make the point soundly, probability is less important . FYI, zombies are highly improbable. The plausibility for them to exist is nil, but the movie says they exist, so we accept it. In the movie ARRIVAL, everything is pretty much implausible; time travel is implausible if you sit down and think about it. I can pick that movie apart in a dozen different ways. If Louise chooses not to marry the other scientist and never has her kid, then what happens to all the people who were affected by that kid no longer existing; what timeline did that change? Can we choose to avoid future tragedies; is that a good thing? Is that point of the movie ARRIVAL? Or is it a movie that deals in free choice and the power that love plays in the human condition? The choices we make in these implausible fantasy worlds are not always going to be rational; thus whether all scenes in a movie are plausible, is irrelevant unless the plausibility is the story. If the story is about Helen surviving in that trailer, then they would show the trailer being retrofitted and set up for her to live for however long the director/screen writer wants her to live. But she is not the story. The story is all about Melanie and her natural selection to survive a dying world. Everybody else dies, thus Helen does not matter. That may sound cold but the truth is she does not matter one bit. Will the feral kids mate and have kids that will be immune to the fungi? Maybe. Does it matter? No. Will Melanie find a suitable mate and repopulate the world? Does it matter? The story has already been told – it is a hypothetical movie about natural selection, and the birth of a new hybrid lifeform replacing mankind. How it will survive and do this, is irrelevant.

    Anyway, it is just a thought. Who can I blame for these bursts of logic, laws of probability, human rationale? My da. :) He is a very rational man, yet whenever my sister and I pick apart a movie or book over the plausibility of something happening, he always asks is that important. “The book says it is so, now you have to ask yourself why?” Fairy tales leave out all kinds of details, especially in matters of plausibility, but a fairy tale is meant to entertain you and frighten children into being good or wary of the evils awaiting them in life. …Oi, I could go on forever. My sister is laughing over my shoulder, “Senta!” Yes, I am a terror. ;) Actually, I learned this from my sister. She challenged me all through my formative years. Imagine being challenged on every thought you have? Talk about paranoia! That is why I am this way. :D

  • Hey back at you, Senta! I hope you and your family are having a lovely time visiting America. Your POV is like a work of art: meticulously, eloquently stated with refreshing perspectives seemingly always hitting a bullseye of rationality, common sense…like a whorl of color depth in every thought you share. Your mom and dad must be very proud of you–I am, too!

    I read everyone’s awesome comments including one not so awesome and wonder if you accidentally skipped a paragraph or something. You sort of paraphrased stuff I’d already said. Fine minds think alike haha!

    Plausibility is suspended in these kinds of films. Right. However, sometimes snafus occur during films which break the continuity of the “letting go of reality” and cause a break in the journey the mind was being taken. Like, noticing a wristwatch on a gladiator’s wrist or a small engine plane in the distance yet the movie’s time period is before aircraft invention.

    The movie’s ending disrupts an agreeing imagination because of the disparate use of a non-modernistic building which cannot sustain life for very long. Yes, it’s duly noted from the title who the movie is about but let’s not forget the character with whom she has the most simpatico, a person very relevant in her decisions…she would not have started the fire to the fungus pods if she knew, by the gifted intelligence imbued by the writer, that the building her favorite human lay unconscious would fail to keep her alive much longer than a few weeks.

    Helen’s role is crucial for what the ending intended, too, but not feasible because of the snafu already mentioned. Helen would be long dead by the final scene which shows enough passage of time has occurred in the children’s learning of language.

    I realize much was repeated. My apologies for better lack of expressing stuff:-)

  • We must be here at the same time! Very cool. Yes, my family and I are enjoying ourselves in this reeeealy big country. There is so much open space. We have open space too in France too, but not like here. There are forests everywhere and every town has a dozen shopping malls. Americans must love to shop, then again it is a big country with a lot more people. :) You literally need more shopping centers.

    You are positively right, Helen does play a big part in Melanie’s life and growth in nurturing her human side, and it is tragic that Helen must end up spending the last of her days educating children from behind a glass window. I did not like that because I liked her empathetic character. I have read other comments where people bashed the writers on having Melanie set fire to the fungus without any real consideration to Helen’s well-being, although in her still-a-child’s mind, she naively believed Helen would be safe as long as she remained in the trailer, or whatever that thing was. :) You can tell I am real sci-fi person. :D

    I think I approached that whole point with a very hardcore sentimentality. Melanie’s whole experience is of abuse. Humans have ostracized her and made her feel like nothing. She knows, or learns humanity intent to chop her up in pursuit of a cure for themselves. There is a moral implication here. My da is chipping in right now. The moral implication being that humanity is inherently selfish. We think only of ourselves and we will use anything, or anyone to further our continued gain or existence. We have always done this. We have dominated the world with an iron fist. We have driven animals to extinction with over hunting and pollution. We experiment on animals in place of ourselves. We have no respect for life. So…what does Melanie do? My da thinks, she self-preserves. She tore a page from humanity’s playbook. When the doctor character, who is already dying, says that she is going to kill and use Melanie’s DNA for the greater good of mankind, something changes in the child. You can visually see it. Up to that point, she was willing to sacrifice herself for mankind, for Helen, but in that moment when she realizes how cruel the doctor is, she flips a switch and makes the call. Logic: mankind is weak and doomed. She is the next dominant life form, or an offshoot of the fungi, depending on how you want to see it. Mankind is always going to try and hunt her down for a cure; or they will kill her on sight. Either way, mankind is…kind of mean, man. My da’s words! *whole family laughing* This is true though, absolutely, and Melanie turns, right then, right there. You literally watch it happen; you watch her go from willing sacrifice to a WTF moment. My sister’s words! This is becoming a family entry! Melanie chooses to off mankind; she is a Hollywood monster after all, and so it is all good, yes. She chooses to be the ultimate survivor. She ensures the survival of herself and the feral children.

    She does have conscience. She cried when she had to kill the soldier, and she is optimistic over Helen being able to survive. The probability that will happen? In reality not very long, but in Hollywood land, she survives for as long as the director wants her to, so if she ends up teaching them for the next few years and imparts empathy to them, more power to the script whether it is plausible or not. But I agree with you that the movie is somewhat open-ended in a very weird way that was not entirely satisfying, but I had nothing invested in the movie anyway. I would never have watched it by myself under any normal condition. I watched it only because it was a fun moment I could share with my da (I squealed and hid my face in his arm and chest for the entirety of the movie because those zombies were just too creepy), and because I knew it was on Taylor’s list of critiqued movies. So as my day would say, “well played.” Yes, indeed. :)

  • I do see your point about the survival instinct taking precedence over the fondness for Helen as to why the pods were set afire. I appreciate you and your family’s insight on that matter. Thx!

  • Humans already contain a significant biomass of bacteria, fungi, and viral matter. We are each hosts to billions of life forms. I therefore must concur with theory number four. The question is what bio and materials sciences are at the foundation of this movie? I observe cannibalism in nature (i.e. spiders) and I’m guessing as the fungi reproduces, it seeks nutrients in living tissue (from animals and humans). Seemingly indestructible pods explode with intense heat, their seeds entering the jet stream and traveling globally. Can advanced generations of hungies develop technology that provides nutrients superior to meat, transitioning away from humans to livestock and eventually sustainable non-animal foods? That is the sustainable future of intelligent human life coexisting in harmony with other life. This movie opens a potential scientific discussion on how life embedded deep within a meteorite, unleashed, could force humans to evolve quickly.

  • I could barely get through your post because of your writing style. You ramble on and on, and turn what should be a short sentence into paragraphs worth of useless filler. Reminds me of high school and having to make a paper a certain amount of words.

  • Hahahaha…
    My favorite comment in months. Hazzah the tipper!


  • I like happy endings.
    Our remaining species becoming monsters isn’t a happy ending. :D So I’d say this wonderfully written book isn’t my cup of tea.


  • Oh totally, this book, and movie, definitely aren’t happy ending filled. Like, at all. Not even a little bit.

  • I watched it last night after getting a recommendation from a former student. I thought it was excellent. Melanie is clearly Pandora of Greek myth, the first female version of humanity and presented with a gift by each of the gods hence the title, “The Girl with All the Gifts.” Pandora also had a jar containing every problem that would eventually plague humanity. Melanie, therefore, has what humanity needs most and least. She could be the humanity’s savior or its ultimate destruction.

    Melanie’s humanity is the principle focus of the film, it seems to me. Everyone that encounters her seems to break down over whether she is or not. Most soldiers refer to her with pronouns like “it” or with affectionate monikers like “abortion,” so they have no doubts. Glenn Close’s character, I think, sees her humanity, but builds walls in her mind to push it off so she doesn’t feel bad about murdering her, like the line about mimicry, as if Melanie’s kindness is meant to simulate humanity.

    Ultimately, Melanie gets additional gifts from humanity. She witnesses their prejudice towards her, their ruthlessness, their self-serving nature, and I think she uses these to make up her mind at the end what to do about the evolving fungus. One wonders how she might have acted had she been valued by everyone as she was by Justineau. Unfortunately, Justineau was the exception rather than the norm, so when Glenn Close’s character was called on the spot by Melanie about her humanity, she couldn’t lie, and that gave Melanie the confidence to make the self-serving decision that her brand of humanity was every bit as valid as the original. In fact, since she could coexist with the fungus, her type was better suited to continued existence on Earth.

    She followed her Pandoran namesake by giving birth to Pyrrus (fire), and lighting the spores to infect all of humanity. Pretty thoughtful writing, that I need to continue to think about further. I enjoyed the film, but couldn’t really buy the positive spin thrown out at the end with a new school session since I couldn’t forget that humanity was doomed.

  • It’s clear to me that Melanie wanted to spread the fungus throughout the rest of the world.
    1. Dr Caldwell stated that if the seed pods were to open, that would mean “the end of the world, probably”
    2. Just before deciding to light the fire, Melanie asks Dr Caldwell “Then why should it be us [the CwtG] who die for you [Humans]?”

    In my opinion, the life cycle has only three main stages in the movie version:
    1. Spore (at first, by mutation from another species)
    2. Hungry (fungus transmitted by inhalation or by bite)
    3. Stalk

    The CwtG are not a normal stage of the life cycle.
    They break the life cycle by becoming partially resistant to the fungus.

    I liked very much the movie. It looks like Day of the Dead turned into an “I am a Legend” adaptation. Also, it has strong female characters.
    And I liked the scientific feel of the movie, in particular the idea of the fungus.
    It is much more realistic than the usual living dead or alien seed pods, and more imaginative than an anonymous virus.
    Ophiocordyceps unilateralis is a real fungus, by the way, infecting ants (then called “zombie ants”), changing their behavior and destroying entire colonies.

    Of course, there are also many unrealistic, improbable or unexplained things (not that it bothered me that much.)

    Like Richard Matheson’s novel I Am a Legend, the twist is that “zombies” and “humans” are both capable of humanity and savagery. But can we put Dr Caldwell’s rational actions and the CwtG’s violent impulses on an equal footing?

    Apart from its philosophical central theme, there is one aspect of the movie that I found highly disturbing: the relationship between Melanie and Justineau.
    At the beginning, Melanie writes a story where Justineau is “the most beautiful woman in all the world” and where she (Melanie) saves her life, assuming the role of a charming prince.
    That a child has an Oedipus/Electra complex with their teacher is hardly surprising. But Melanie is entering adolescence (actress Sennia Nanua was 12 years old) and should begin to experience mature feelings.
    For her part, Justineau seems to take the story seriously. She sheds a tear and strokes Melanie’s hair. That’s not the most appropriate reaction for a teacher in this situation.
    Is it possible that the fungus represents the teenager’s burgeoning desires for her teacher? Note that Justineau is the only human who awakened her “hungriness”.
    If I follow this Freudian theory, Melanie gained maturity through experience (hunting for food).
    Then, Melanie unconscious motivation for lighting the fire was to keep Justineau in a box, for her alone. (Freud would have remarked that the movie ends with a gigantic ejaculation from a phallic shaped tower ^^’) Or it could be a way to repress her desires.

  • The ending is simple, we really shouldn’t think too deeply.

    Melanie loves Justineau, she simply wants to keep Justineau with her. (Melanie is a kid! She should be think and act like a kid)

    At the end, Melanie said: “there will be alots of time”. That’s exactly what she wants, alots of time with Justineau.

  • when i first saw this movie i scared but i learn so much in this movie but when i understand the story i was amaze………

  • can please someone help me on my reaction paper about this story i cant understand about their language

  • hi guys !!!!! i watch the movie right now i was just trying to understand their language right now……………

  • Melanie loves justineau and she don’t want to hurt justineau .so that shes trying to control her monster side .and shes really a genius kid. so that shes protecting justineau by her side. i wish i could be that kid…………..

  • Thank you for this movie. Very satisfying on so many levels.

  • Levels of Gifts
    1. As a zombie movie fan, this was enjoyable. The gore, deaths, and violence were served at the right doses.
    2. As a sci-fi concept, intelligent fungi is more plausible than a mutant virus.
    3. As a post-apocalyptic movie, this ticks a lot of boxes: desolation, hunger, hope, survival, unexpected temporary alliances.
    4. As an art piece, the acting were mostly on point, the cinematography fairly immersive, the directing was effective and powerful.
    5. As an existential essay, it provokes the mind to think beyond its own survival. I found myself siding with Melanie even as she struggles with her own loss of innocence and growing maturity.

  • If Melanie had killed Justineau right along with the rest of humanity she’d be a less likable character. Therefore, Melanie essentially made Justineau a “pet” or perhaps an animal in a zoo.

    The ending of the movie was surprising, but when I think about it, it shouldn’t have been. There is no reason for a zombie (whichever generation) to save humans. This story takes a different approach from others because you basically have the the zombies win at the end rather than the humans.

  • The further down I get in the comments, the closer I seem to get to the mindset of the rest of the people commenting. I think one very important aspect that some people are ignoring is in fact the simplest fact – the character Melanie is a child. Taking away the zombie aspect of the movie (as I have not read the book, unfortunately), what we are seeing is a child that is different being treated like a monster. Things like questions of humanity and the way Melanie develops are the same as they would be for any child in such a situation – like Dr. Caldwell’s comment of “mimicry” implies, all children have a kind of “monkey see, monkey do” instinct. It is from our parents or caregivers that we learn how to talk, the difference between right and wrong, and about ourselves.
    This is why Melanie has to ask what she is. No one ever told her, and to her (aside from the few times where she actually smelled humans unhindered by the blocking gel) it was normal to hold your breath and count to 1000 and have a craving for living flesh. It isn’t until she begins to see the differences between herself and the adults around her (something that likely begins before the start of the book/movie narrative) that she realizes there are differences at all. This is juxtapositioned by the “feral” children – they didn’t have anyone but each other to learn from. They created a language of their own, inevitably found techniques to acquire fresh food, developed a hierarchy, and were truly beginning to form a new civilization in the literal ruins of the previous one. If left entirely to their own devices, they would have evolved in much the same way humans have – slowly expanding our language, reading and writing, communication, and general innovation skills until we reach what could be considered a peak in evolution. Not to say this wouldn’t be a difficult endeavor, but it is a logical assumption we can make based on the development of humanity.
    For a child her age, I would say Melanie is remarkably observant, but other than that I would not really say she is above the average for a human in terms of intelligence. She is simply doing what all children do – learning from her environment, and reacting to it.
    I am personally far more interested in her relationship with Helen, and how Helen feels at the end of the movie essentially being imprisoned for her own safety while teaching “monstrous” children, knowing the time of humans like her has ended and she is only alive because of the devotion and care that Melanie gives her.
    This is more than love. This is a person who was never treated with kindness being cared for and, like a starving man given a steak, doing their best to hold onto it. Helen herself says Melanie treats her as god-like, and I believe that is her true motivation for “saving” Helen. Melanie likely doesn’t know she’s being selfish or keeping Helen as her personal pet. I believe Melanie, being a child, is still thinking something along the lines of “I care about her, she cares about me, she can be safe in here, I can be good outside.”
    I think on some level Melanie does realize that whether she is a “monster” or not – in this case, not – was because of Helen’s care and influence. She wanted to have this same care provided to the rest of the children like herself, hence why she gathers the uneducated children alongside her classmates to be taught by Helen at the end of the movie. Whether she is smart enough to know that this will change the course of human evolution as a whole (in terms of having the next generation taught by a caring human instead of fending for themselves like most new evolutions of a species) is not made clear in the movie, but I would like to think that she does in some way understand how important it is to spread the things Helen taught her to the rest of the children of this new world.
    But that brings me back to Helen. The single tear she sheds at the end of the movie suggests that she is not exactly happy with the way things have turned out for her and the world. But has she so willingly taken on the role of teacher to all of these children, or is she doing so for Melanie? Or maybe she’s attempting to ensure her own survival by remaining useful, unsure if Melanie will turn on her as she seemed to do on the rest of mankind? Or maybe she really has the level of compassion required to teach a new generation that you know you can’t be a part of just for their own sake instead of your own.
    I want to know how this arrangement occurred, and how Helen feels about it. Melanie is obviously happy, as she is free and able to spend as much time as she likes hearing stories from Helen. But for Helen, well, I will agree with others in saying that this isn’t exactly the best environment for someone to live in. The only real relevant plot issue is, as discussed by others, that Helen cannot survive forever in that mobile lab unless the air is being specifically filtered and food and water is brought to her or cultivated within the lab. But even without this issue, I have to wonder. Taking from the Pandora’s Box analogy, you could say that Helen is Hope. However, unlike Pandora, Melanie is managing to share her with the world while still keeping her locked away. I cannot recall where, but I have also heard the phrase verbatim “to give hope to others is to keep none for yourself.” If Helen is Hope, then she is hope for the children, for the future, but there is no hope for her. That is what makes the ending so thought-provoking, in my opinion. Sure, zombie movies are usually about the last surviving members of humanity. But when you’re faced with a situation like this, where you are literally the last of your kind, kept in a bubble for your own safety, with the responsibility of the next generation in your hands, this is where the real question lies: what do you do when it’s over? This movie attempts to have us answer that, in my opinion. I would love to hear what others have to say on the matter.

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