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The only human survivor of a biological war fights to end a plague that has turned everybody else into monsters.
In 1977, two years after a Sino-Russian war in which nuclear and biological weapons destroyed most life on the planet, military scientist Col. Robert Neville remains the lone uninfected survivor in Los Angeles. Apart from Neville, several people contaminated by the plague-like illness released by the germ warfare have survived but turned into bizarre mutants who are partially blind and demented. At night, Neville avoids the mutants, who, due to their sensitivity to light, cannot expose themselves during the daytime. Convinced by their fanatic leader, former news broadcaster Matthias, that Neville personifies the twin evils of science and militarism, the mutants make nightly attacks on his building, catapulting burning torches through his windows. Neville remains safely barricaded in his elegant, downtown penthouse apartment, where he has hoarded food, liquor and fuel for his numerous cars. Determined to maintain a sense of normalcy in spite of the catastrophe around him, Neville patrols the city by day, carrying a machine gun and recording any sign of the mutants' activity in hopes of finding and destroying them. After another evening of fighting off attacks led by Matthias and his cohort Zachary, Neville searches downtown in hopes of tracking them down. Attempting to suppress his constant anxiety, Neville "shops" in a clothing store and is startled when he sees a young black woman attempting to blend in with the store mannequins. Neville chases the woman, but she escapes by running into a park. Exhausted, Neville trudges into a bar and hearing a noise, descends into the darkened wine cellar where he is attacked by a group of mutants who take him to Matthias. Matthias condemns Neville for not being one of his "family" because he is not infected and declares him "obsolete." Neville maintains that the mutants should organize and attempt to find a cure, but Matthias insists there is no treatment. After a mock trial, Matthias and the others declare Neville guilty and carry him outside to a cart where he is driven to an area just outside of a stadium. Lashing Neville to a tree, Matthias exhorts his followers to burn the scientist as the bodies of the dead were burned after the initial contamination. Suddenly the stadium lights come on, forcing the mutants to collapse in an effort to cover their sensitive eyes and skin. An uninfected young man appears and cuts Neville free, then guides him away to the tunnels under the stadium where they are joined by the young woman Neville saw in the store. The woman forces Neville at gunpoint to drive her on a motorbike through the stadium and away from the recovering mutants. At dawn, the couple arrives at a house at the base of the mountains where Neville is stunned to meet a few healthy young women and several children. The young man joins the group and introduces himself as Dutch and the woman as Lisa. Dutch tells Neville that he is familiar with his work, as he was a graduate student in biochemistry before the disaster. Lisa explains that neither she nor any of the others understand why they have not been afflicted with the plague, but admits that most of them have a mild sensitivity to light. Dutch adds that occasionally one of their group will become ill and that when they become manic and violent, he has been forced to kill them. Lisa and Dutch then tell Neville that they have brought him to examine one of the young people, Richie, who has shown signs of plague. After examining the boy, Neville shocks Lisa and Dutch when he reveals that he is immune to the plague due to a vaccination he developed and took just as the war reached its peak. Heartened when Neville suggests that his blood could be used to make a serum, Dutch and Lisa agree to let Neville take Richie back to town where Neville has access to laboratories. At Neville's penthouse, he administers the last remaining vaccination to Richie. That evening, Neville treats Lisa to dinner, but they are interrupted by a power outage caused by the mutants. While Neville goes to the basement to restore power, Zachary scales the building to the penthouse balcony. Neville restores the lights and returns in time to kill Zachary just as he is about to attack Lisa. Neville and Lisa spend the night together and the next morning, Neville notes that Richie's condition is much improved. Taking Lisa to a laboratory, Neville draws his own blood and sets about making a serum he hopes will work. Pleased, Lisa offers to spend the afternoon gathering supplies for them and Neville returns to his penthouse to find a nearly recovered Richie. When Neville tells Richie about the serum, the boy expresses happiness that everyone will soon "return to normal." Neville explains that the mutants may be too far along in the illness to be saved and should be killed. Dismayed, Richie criticizes the scientist for his hypocrisy and abruptly reveals that the mutants' headquarters is the city civic center. Later, Neville goes to the mountains to report Richie's recovery and the serum development to Dutch, who agrees to join Neville and Lisa the following day. Upon returning to town, Neville finds a note from Richie declaring he has gone to confront the mutants to find out if they are as cynical as Neville. The scientist hurries to the civic center where he finds Richie brutally murdered. At dusk, as Lisa returns to the penthouse she runs into a torchlight parade by the mutants and, showing signs of the illness, joins them. Back at the penthouse, Neville is confronted by Matthias, a dazed Lisa and several mutants who destroy his belongings. Neville succeeds in breaking free and, using a large kitchen knife, threatens Matthias. Grabbing Lisa, Neville flees outside, but when Matthias calls to Lisa from the balcony, she is confused and breaks away from Neville. As Neville's machine gun jams, Matthias takes a spear from one of the scientist's art displays and hurls it at Neville, impaling him in the chest. The following morning, Dutch arrives with the children and is horrified to find Neville bleeding to death. Before dying, Neville gives Dutch the serum bottle and urges him to take the collapsed Lisa and the children away to start anew.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||GP||Premiere Info:||New York opening: 13 Aug 1971; Los Angeles opening: 27 Aug 1971|
|Release Date:||1971||Production Date:||
AFI-DVD; EB, Netflix*
|Color/B&W:||Color (Technicolor)||Distributions Co:||Warner Bros., Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Walter Seltzer Productions, Inc., Warner Bros., Inc.|
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the lead in this story was one of the greatest acting talents of all time. it is a shame he is not given the entire respect for the work he did. that is...
The best Sci-fi movie
Gary Rosenbarski 2010-06-24
this movie is the best Sci-Fi movie since motropolis Charlton Heston is great in everything but The omega man is his best.