In the original game, we learn that the people of Jackson are going to see a movie, but we don’t know which one. It would’ve been easy to choose “Star Wars” or some other hugely popular film, like when “Reign of Fire” revealed the solitary piece of pop culture that survived the dragon apocalypse was “The Empire Strikes Back.” Instead, we get a lesser-known Richard Dreyfuss movie.
On the latest episode of the official “The Last of Us” podcast, co-creator Craig Mazin said he wanted to show that movie because it wasn’t just about a man and a woman falling in love, it is also about the woman’s daughter growing to approve of her future step-father. Beyond that, the scene was hugely important for Mazin because of what watching not just any movie, but a rom-com — widely considered to be less of a spectacle genre and more of a comfort one — meant for the world of the show:
“I like the idea of movies as an additional signifier of how civilized this place was, because up until this point, the world revolves around ammunition, guns. I liked the idea that one of the signifiers that this town is functioning is that it is still interested in art, and the community gathering together to watch a movie.”
Indeed, this is possibly the most hopeful moment in the entire series so far — a small but significant moment that shows that life can return to a sense of normalcy, even in the fungal-zombie apocalypse. The arts may not be an absolute necessity to survive like food and water, but they are evidence we are actually living and forming communities for more than simply convenience.
“The Last of Us” airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO and HBO Max.