Deadly Movies Connections: 28 Days Later & The Day of The Triffids. Deserted Deja Vu?

What image do you remember the most about Danny Boyle’s superb 2002 horror 28 Days Later? A good way to judge this is with a quick Google Image search to find which of those images from the film that people most frequently post and discuss. It’s probably not much of a surprise that, posters and DVD art aside, one of the most recurring images found online is of Cillian Murphy’s Jim wondering the deserted streets of London, more specifically walking across a deserted Westminster Bridge. Seeing any major city deserted, especially one as large and famed as London, is a memorable cinematic moment, made all the more stunning by the lack of CG assistance (tut tut I Am Legend). That deserted London sequence has always been my favourite part of the movie, I find the military compound section of the movie less interesting (certainly less visually interesting at least).

So imagine my surprise when, watching The Day of The Triffids (1962) recently, I realised that many of these infamous shots from 28 Days Later had been achieved in the past. In fact I’d go as far to say that Danny Boyle knowingly recreated scenes from The Day of The Triffids. To put this in context, in both films a guy wakes up in hospital after an apocalyptic-type event has taken place (Jim in 28 Days, Howard Keel’s Bill in Triffids) to find himself all but alone and subsequently wanders the deserted streets of London in search of answers. Take a look at the comparison pictures which I’ve mocked up below, It’s actually quite staggering in terms of either framing or imagery. Scenes from The Day of The Triffids appear on top, scenes from 28 Days Later underneath:

Above: Bill and Jim awake to find themselves alone in the hospital, complete with of-the-period British NHS garb.

Above: In both movies one of the first visual notes of a deserted London is a crashed London Bus.., an infamous icon of the city.

Above: Both sequences come toward their conclusion by showing the leading men walking across Westminster Bridge with Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in the background.

It’s also worth noting that, impressively, The Day of The Triffids managed to get a deserted sequence at Piccadilly Circus which, traffic and pedestrian wise, is probably more of a chore than securing Westminster Bridge. Not that any of this is derisory towards 28 Days Later, and Danny Boyle has mentioned in the past that the script was influenced by The Day of The Triffids. But it is, none the less, very interesting to see that these iconic shots were actually achieved some 40 years earlier.

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8 thoughts on “Deadly Movies Connections: 28 Days Later & The Day of The Triffids. Deserted Deja Vu?

  1. When 28 Days Later first came out, I did the rounds of my favourite film forums, railing about how it was a rip-off of Day of the Triffids (the book and the movie). Of course, few had seen it – fewer had read the book. I got sneered at for maligning Danny Boyle’s achievement. Finally, I’m glad to get some level of vindication.

    • deadlymovies says:

      I’m glad I could help!

    • Tres Bigdeal says:

      I had the same problem. I am a massive fan of Wyndham’s books and whenever I said that 28 days later is exactly the same story I got blank faces. Day of the Triffids was an amazing, ground breaking and original story and, of course, some young film maker has to steal the story a decade or so later and entertain the new generation that have no history or connection with the classics. Great way to make money off young people and disturbing how disconnected young people are with classic literature and international film.

  2. New-Man says:

    From when 28 Days Later was released I’d heard about this, along with Boyle saying some unkind comments in the direction of George Romero, despite the third act essentially being taken from Day of the Dead. I think in a way I probably avoided seeing it with my own eyes, less it tainted my love for the movie. Enough time has passed though for that to happen, so I should really get around to watching Day of the Triffids…

  3. Along those same lines, clearly The Walking Dead was also inspired by those scenes where Rick wakes in the hospital and ventures forth into the town. Less so with his trip to Atlanta, although the scene of the interstate highway approach to Atlanta has become iconic for the series.

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