Israel's Security Wall in World Z Triggers Questions

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By Ria Kristina Torrente | June 26, 2013 1:30 PM EST

(Warning: This article contains plot summary and spoilers)

World War Z's depiction of the Israeli Wall led critics to question about what the movie wants to say about Israel. Even some average moviegoers, who may or may not be interested about Middle East's political crises, have left them scratching their heads.

Brad Pitt's "World War Z" depicts a world stormed by a zombie pandemic, and the only two countries that have kept the zombies away from their territories are Israel and North Korea.

Israel, one of the new global power structure, sets one of the highlights of the movie. Israelis and Palestinians were sheltered behind a wall, which resembles the West Bank barrier.

The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg wrote, "North Koreans still have a few teeth in their heads, but Israel has already built a wall. Will foreign audiences, or potential audiences, interpret the film's message to be that the only thing wrong with the existing wall is that it's not sealed tight enough?"

Steven Zeitchik of The Los Angeles Times also questioned the wall's transformation, "In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a wall is a heavily fraught symbol. But here it turns into an instrument of peace?"

Brad Pitt's debut as a producer and star of the movie, based on Max Brook's 2006 novel "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War", had its share of negative publicity while still in production due to the many problems it faced regarding reshoots, rewrites and on-set quarrels. This generated speculations that the movie might become a flop.

The result for heavily rewriting the story produced a movie that is substantially not the same with the book. The book illustrates geopolitical allegory, where Jews and Palestinians uninfected by the pandemic are quarantined behind Jerusalem's huge wall. It is not destroyed by zombies, but by civil war when Israel's ultra-orthodox rebel breaks out. The story is pieced together from multiple perspectives.

On the other hand, the movie is told in the narrow viewpoint of Pitt's character as a United Nations inspector as he tries to make sense of the disaster as it happens. The Jerusalem scene, originally shot in Malta, is the movie's highlight where zombies ascend the wall like ants.

According to the actor, "It got too dense," and "We got too weighed down on it. We spent a couple years on it. We couldn't get it into one movie. We had to walk a line between using the film as a Trojan horse for some of that, but these things have to be fun. And we were bored, ourselves."

Brooks is distancing himself from the movie and said that it is "World War Z" "in name only". It was reported that the author requested his publisher, Random House, not to print new editions of the book with Pitt on the cover.

Surprisingly, "World War Z" soared at the box office on its opening weekend earning $112 million worldwide. It has been confirmed that a sequel is in the works.

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