Romeo and Juliet. Just say the words and it evokes thoughts of tragic love, and, usually, the balcony scene. It took until the balcony scene in the post zombie-apocalypse movie Warm Bodies for me to "get it" - Julie, the human, on the 2nd story outside ledge of her mansion, and "R", the zombie, on the ground below, looking up, imploring her to talk with him. "Ohhhh", I thought suddenly, "it's another remake!" The humans in Julie's world want Rr dead, the skeletal "bonies" in R's world want Julie dead - they're stuck, and falling in love.
Most know how Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet ends: poorly. They both die with the belief that their love made it impossible for them to live in their respective worlds without the other. (My apologies if I've just spoiled the story for you!)
But what would happen if the love that Romeo and Juliet shared could transform their communities? What if others learned from them, and instead of tragedy there is massive social change?
(Spoiler Alert! If you want to watch the very enjoyable movie of Warm Bodies, read on at your own risk.)
This is what happens in Warm Bodies. R, the zombie, who is rather more self-aware than most zombies, is thunderstruck when he sees the human, Julie. Instead of eating her, he protects her. His love for her, and eventually her love for him, begins to transform other zombies. They begin to have hope.
Rather than dying in a pool of misunderstanding, remorse, poison and blood, R and Julie's impossible love spreads to the zombies and the humans, radically transforming everyone (much bonding occurs during the extermination of the bonies). The literal wall of separation that protected the humans from the zombies is blown to bits, the zombies regain heartbeats, and the humans learn to integrate the zombies into their lives, helping them to become human again.
It's a lovely story. (Never mind the occasional scene of flesh and brain being eaten.) It's a gospel story. It's a story I want to be true so badly. (Not the zombie apocalypse part.) Love CAN transform. It can transform our economy, our prejudices, our wars, and our injustices. It can transform me, which is no minor miracle.
Warm Bodies may be a fairy tale, but the power of love that is portrayed here is anything but fanciful. The love of God that is revealed in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus really does bring the dead to life. It's ours to experience, to offer, and to ask for. It's ours to live.