When Does 'Z For Zachariah' Take Place? The Sci-Fi Drama Shows A Lonely Future After A Nuclear War

A movie about nuclear war isn't exactly the most uplifting thing in the world. For one, anything with the word "nuclear" isn't always a good thing. Add "war" to that and you got yourself one intense situation. Even though Z For Zachariah takes place during a time of nuclear war, it's not exactly about the actual act. It's more about what happens after — what people do to survive. It's a story about humanity, and is based on the novel with the same name by Robert C. O'Brien. The book was published after the author's death in 1974 and takes place in the "not-distant future" — but what date, exactly — when does Z for Zachariah take place? Turns out that the date is left anonymous in both the book and the movie, which shows that dystopian futures don't need a specific timeframe to tell the story of humanity and survival.

The movie stars Margot Robbie as Ann, a young woman who is fending for herself after the rest of humanity seems to have died from the war. She's basically the last woman on Earth — until John Loomis (Chiwetel Ejiofor) wanders into her life. He's a mad scientist — literally. He has become distraught because of all the radiation exposure, and Ann takes him in and nurses him back to health. At first, they have nothing in common and then they begin to develop a bond... until a third stranger (Chris Pine) comes into their life. That's when things start to unravel and a whole bunch of drama begins to surface.

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End-of-the-world drama, nuclear war, a mysterious stranger, a bizarre love triangle, the fight to survive, the moral tests of humanity — Z For Zachariah much checks all the boxes when it comes to a good movie. That being said, there are a lot of interesting details about the movie that could make it one of the most interesting films of the year.

It's Based On A Young Adult Novel


In 1976, the book by O'Brien won the Jane Addams Children's Book Award and the Edgar Award the best mystery fiction in the juvenile category. From the trailer, you wouldn't think that this was based on a YA novel. It seems very adult to me.

Robert C. O'Brien's Has Another Book-To-Movie Adaptation

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O'Brien also wrote the book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH which was later adapted into the 1982 animated feature, The Secret of Nimh. That's definitely a far cry from nuclear war.

This "Mean Girl" Was Originally Cast As Ann


When they announced the cast for the movie adaptation in 2013, Chris Pine and Chiwetel Ejiofor were on that list, but Margot Robbie wasn't. Instead, Amanda Seyfried was supposed to play Ann, but later dropped out and was replaced by Robbie.

Director Craig Zobel Made Compliance

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Craig Zobel caught the attention of critics and audiences with the gripping film Compliance at Sundance in 2012. Based on true events, the movie takes place at a fast food restaurant where one of the workers is reported to have stolen money. Under the direction of a so-called cop on the phone, the manager is instructed to perform harsh forms of interrogation on the suspect. It showcases Zobel's talent for putting a microscope on a do-or-die situation. He builds suspense, thrills and makes you feel as uncomfortable and tense as the characters — something that is called for in Z For Zachariah. In both movies, Zobel has a provocative way of challenging your views on human relationships. It's disturbing as much as it is gripping.

This Isn't The First Film Adaptation Of The Novel

BBC's Play For Today did an adaptation of the novel for television in 1984. The production value and quality leave much to be desired, but keep in mind — it was 1984. This version made a lot of changes from the book, but it still remains the first adaptation of O'Brien's sci-fi drama.

From it's origin as a book to its humble beginnings as a TV movie, Z For Zachariah has a lot of undiscovered details hidden in its nooks and crannies.

Images: Roadside Attractions; Giphy