March of the Killer Zombies

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Living Dead Zombies March in Bordeaux as Walled City This Time Opens Gates in Welcome

For the fifth year running normally genteel Bordeaux — wine capital of France — has been invaded by nearly two thousand zombies, despite initial misgivings by city authorities who last year kept them outside the city walls.Even though on a walkabout in Bordeaux Zombies apparently prefer other refreshments to the city's most famous export.  (Credit Mike Alexander)

In an interview with French News Online, the city’s number one zombie, Franck Bonhomme, explained that the event nearly had to be cancelled as local authorities only granted permission in the last few days. Although he was concerned that there would be a poor turn out given such late notice, his worries were unfounded as the zombies (morts-vivants in French or the living/walking, dead ) rose in force and full cry from their lairs, cemeteries and other favoured dark corners to show full dress support for the occasion.

Franck Bonhomme President of Burdigala Corps and leading zombie organiser in Aquitaine (Credit Mike Alexander)

Bonhomme is President of the Burdigala Corporation that organizes Bordeaux’s annual Zombie Walk which started in 2009. Last year the zombies were confined to the quay area and were prevented from entering the centre of the city over fears that they would disturb shoppers and shopkeepers.

This year the president was ahead of the game however and approached the shopkeepers along the proposed route well in advance of Saturday’s walk. Not only were they supportive but more than two hundred of them signed a petition urging the event take place in the city centre.

The first large scale zombie reunion in France was held in Strasbourg in 2008 followed by annual get-togethers in Lyon and Paris. The event in Bordeaux now attracts zombies from all over Aquitaine and it is hoped that it will become the largest wholesale zombie get-together in the country.

Zombie meetups are of course something of a global phenomenon – here is a short video clip of a Zombie Pub Crawl in Minneapolis, USA this year:

Zombie followers in France as elsewhere, makes good use of social media and the Internet in spreading their message. A recent example has been this BD collection morphing Zombies into a political psychodrama centered on the Élysée palace:

A book of politically incorrect cartoon strips or bande dessinée "Les misérables , Zombies néchronologie" was published to coincide with the event  (Credit FNAC)

The Burdigala Corporation Facebook page says their objective is the “creation and propaganda of a cultural virus in the hope of contaminating a maximum number of individuals through organised events and festivals related to zombie culture”.

As France Bleu in its coverage of the Bordeaux walk pointed out: “The zombie is a fantastic figure increasingly mentioned in literature, the movies and in TV series — of which one of the best known is ‘The walking dead’. Here zombies are portrayed as the living-dead, infected by a virus.” Listen here to France Bleu’s report:

The zombie subculture has its roots to a large extent in cult horror films. Wikipedia notes: “Zombies are fictional creatures, typically depicted as mindless, reanimated human corpses (sometimes animals) with a hunger for human flesh, regularly encountered in horror and fantasy themed works. Some depictions are inspired by Haitian folklore, while others, like the ones in George A. Romero’s film Night of the Living Dead, do not have that same direct connection.”

Covering the Bordeaux event turned into a bit of melee — the area is after all famous for its rugby teams — with swarms of photographers and cameramen on scene hoping perhaps for some surprised or even antagonistic reactions from the locals.  The initial fears of the authorities about having a couple of thousand zombies penetrating city walls, proved groundless and the event went off extremely smoothly and seems to have been highly appreciated by somewhat surprised tourists, local shoppers and diners.

Bordeaux’s far-from-camera-shy zombies went to extraordinary lengths to make themselves resemble as closely as possible figures from the cult films that inspire them. Those caught short on time to dress up fully for the event were helped to enter into the spirit by very capable volunteers on hand from the local make up academy, Francois B.

More photos of the Bordeaux event can be found here.  Those who missed out this year can contact the Burdigala Corporation at zombiewalk.bordeaux@gmail.com for news of the 2015 walk.

 

Writer: Mike Alexander

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