Heston’s character appears to be, as the movie opens, the only normal person left on Earth. He shares the city with a group of vampire-like mutants who have formed an angry cult bent on destroying all remnants of the former society including Neville.
Omega Man Charlton Heston
by Geoffrey Jones
I watched a film which originally was screened way back in 1971, titled “Omega Man” starring Charlton Heston. It was the second of three screen adaptations of Richard Matheson’s novel “I am Legend/” It appeared close to the time that Heston’s other dystopian roles, Planet of the Apes and Soylent green, appeared.
Omega Man tells the story of Dr. Robert Neville, Survivor of a global plague caused by modern technology and war. Nevelle lives in a fortified building in the remains of Los Angeles, California.
The mutants can only range about by night. After Neville’s efforts to treat one of them with experimental vaccines meets with great resistance, and they continue to hate him, he is forced to fight back and is at constant war with them using a machine gun to drive them back as they attempt to burn him out of his apartment.
One day, while he is wandering the city, Neville meets a woman who is largely free of the illness. He forms a relationship with her and she introduces him to a small group of survivors who have delayed the effects of the virus by hiding in the country. Neville suspects that his blood has become a kind of vaccine-serum and uses it to treat a member of the survivors who is growing ill. Finally Neville is mortally wounded by a mutant but lives long enough to pass a vial of his blood serum to a survivor who leaves to use it to cure the others remaining, thereby the start of a new, better world is implied and begun. (I find in the film an underlying Christian Symbolism which should be seen to be appreciated.)
Charlton Heston was no less epic in his real life than in the roles he played so well. He was considered a hero for liberalism in the sixties when he marched with Martin Luther King and considered a hero for conservatism in the nineties when, as the head of the NRA, he fought to preserve our second amendment rights.
Rather than as liberal or conservative though, Heston will be remembered as a constant seeker after truth and someone trying his best to help preserve the core American values fought for by our founders. He well deserves the honors history has bestowed on him.
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