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28 Days Later

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Was just watching the DVD of 28 Days Later with the director’s commentary turned on… (Never do this with DVDs… Don’t watch many DVDs to begin with… But anyway…) Pretty interesting, especially because this featured featured a conversation between Danny Boyle, the director, and Alex Garland, who wrote the screenplay – and whose The Coma I recently read and liked…

Anyway, didn’t listen to the whole thing, but I was interested in the fact that many scenes in the movie were inspired by news footage of "real life" catastrophes, mostly of the third world variety. For instance, the movies that the chimpanzees are watching in the lab at the opening of the movie are recreations of riots in Sierra Leone. The scene where the main character scoops 20 pound notes off the ground was based on a photograph from Phnom Penh, the day Pol Pot was deposed. The scene where the characters blow up a gas station (and a bunch of the infected) and escape the blast by bracing against a building was drawn from a (photo of?) a bomb blast in Northern Ireland.

Weirdest of all – there’s a scene in which a big billboard in Piccadilly Circus is covered with "missing" signs a la 9/11. (The worst one of all, which we only see for a second, is a crayon drawing of "Mom" and "Dad" and "Home." Ugh… Freaky…)

Anyway, when I first saw the film, I of course assumed that this was inspired by 9/11 – but the film was shot before September 2001. Instead, Boyle says that they got the idea from images in the wake of an earthquake in China, where apparently the same thing had happened.

So do we take 28 Days Later as either 1) a repornographization of the catalogue of violent media images that fascinate us, but leave no permanent mark, on the tv or 2) a sort of filmic, allegorical, Regarding the Pain of Others that brings the secret horror of our times home and into open display?
(Or, in a another vein, what is the secret meaning of "That can’t happen here!" / "What if that happened here?")

Finally, again impressed by the footage of emptied London in the movie.

28_days_laterI was a little disappointed to learn that some of the emptying was carried out digitally, after the fact.

There was a strange little mini-genre of movies produced immediately before 9/11 which centrally featured emptied out metropolises. The other one I’m thinking of is Vanilla Sky, the 2001 remake of Open Your Eyes. 

VanillaskyThese scenes, especially the beautiful ones in 28 Days Later, always make me think of Wordsworth’s "Upon Westminster Bridge," which maybe the Boyle (or Garland) was thinking of too when they orchestrated the pictured scene…)

EARTH has not anything to show more fair:  
  Dull would he be of soul who could pass by  
  A sight so touching in its majesty:  
This City now doth like a garment wear  
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,          5
  Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie  
  Open unto the fields, and to the sky;  
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.  
Never did sun more beautifully steep  
  In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;   10
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!  
  The river glideth at his own sweet will:  
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;  
  And all that mighty heart is lying still!

Always think back to what might be one of my favorite days ever, or at least recently. Last year (actually, one year ago next week) Wife and I were in London, staying over in a crappy Ibis by the Earl’s Court underground station. Woke up ungodly early – or never really got to sleep – due to jetlag. We’re standing by the breakfast room door at 4:45 AM, waiting for it to open. Ate breakfast and headed down to, yep, Westminster Bridge – there about 6 AM. Subsequently walked from there all the way to Wapping along the river – probably, literally, saw a total of 10 people the whole way. Sunday morning, I believe. Crossed and recrossed and crossed again the river on the way. Can’t really explain why, nor can I explain how powerful the memory of this morning was. The emptiness amidst fullness… Probably a feeling akin to Wordsworth’s though. And something like the feeling that drags us out to see 28 Days Later, strangely enough…

Ahh.. It’s true. Just consulted the pictures of the morning. No one in sight… Here you go:


Written by adswithoutproducts

March 20, 2005 at 3:01 am

Posted in Film

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