I Walked with a Zombie

Jacques Tourneur (1943)
69 minutes

The January selection for the LAYKA Lens series was Val Lewton’s 1943 classic I Walked with a Zombie. Our panel met to discuss this haunting film with a virtual audience on January 28, 2021. You can stream the film on AmazonApple TV, or YouTube anytime.

I Walked with a Zombie is a fascinating film with roots in the classic Jane Eyre, but set in the Caribbean (the original home of Charlotte Brontë’s “madwoman in the attic”). The movie presents horror as both a genre and as a real life experience of historical violence. I Walked with a Zombie is a particularly resonant film for our time and the LAYKA series, in its exploration of themes of community and the fear of others — monstrous or otherwise.

The LAYKA panel will take on this film set in the West Indies, made by an international team of writers, directors, and producers — many who were refugees of Jewish origins fleeing the Nazi horror. A wide-ranging discussion will consider the style of the influential producer Val Lewton as well as the central themes of the film including willful blindness toward injustice, the return of repressed legacies of oppression, and the representation of Caribbean and Black culture in wartime cinema.

This month’s LAYKA panel included:

Moderator: Rob Adler Peckerar

Executive Director, Yiddishkayt

Boris Dralyuk

Executive Editor, Los Angeles Review of Books

J. Hoberman

Critic and Author, New York Times, Village Voice

Faith Smith

Associate Professor, Departments of African & African American Studies and English, Brandeis University
View the original trailer for I Walked with a Zombie, produced by Val Lewton. The film is available for streaming on Amazon or Apple TV.