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28 DAYS LATER

The Premise
After THE BEACH, Andrew Macdonald and Alex Garland talked about doing another film together. "Alex is just a natural story teller and I wanted to make a film that had the same energy and excitement of reading one of his books,” recounts Macdonald. "When he said that he'd always wanted to do science fiction, I encouraged him to look to H. G. Wells, The Time Machine, something set in Britain.” 

"I see it as a sort of oblique war film, relayed via seventies zombie movies and British science fiction literature,” says Garland, "Particularly J.G. Ballard and John Wyndam.” 

"Alex delivered a 50-page script, which eventually formed the basis for 28 DAYS LATER, it read very entertainingly and was a real page turner,” says Macdonald. "When he writes a screenplay you can visualize it and you want to know what happens next – for me, that's the absolute crucial thing in storytelling. Alex has that in spades.” 

Macdonald then sent the script to Danny Boyle, who had just completed two digital films, STRUMPET and VACUUMING COMPLETELY NUDE IN PARADISE for the BBC. "His visual strengths were what we needed to communicate Alex's writing and energy of the film,” says Macdonald. He is very good at interpreting it in a different way that freshens it up from the page.” 

Garland was pleased to be collaborating with the team from THE BEACH once again. "Danny is witty and amazingly inventive, so he makes you laugh and always keeps you thinking. Andrew sees all the details, but he also sees a bigger picture than anyone else. In conversation, both deliver continuous insights into filmmaking and cinema in general. I'm fortunate to have had the chance to work with them.” 

Boyle was taken by the script immediately but did not want to make a straight genre movie. "I like zombie movies but they come out of a particular period, a society paranoid about what might be the dirty result of nuclear weapons and power. I'm not a big aficionado of the genre, I like it a lot, but I love that Alex gave us a twist on the viral apocalypse theme - that this is not a clinical virus but a psychological one – so in the long run, I feel there was respect for the genre but I hope that we freshened it up in some way.” 

"The premise of the film,” explains Macdonald, "is that scientists are trying to develop a cure for rage, a suppressant drug similar to Valium in respect of depression. As part of the research process chimps are infected with a virus that promotes a permanent stage of psychotic rage.” 

"It's a primate-based virus,” says Boyle. "It's hideously virulent and is spread by contact with the blood. It leads to an appalling state of aggression, where even the simple sound of a human voice makes you want to kill that person. It has a built-in obsolescence though because they can't feed themselves, they don't understand any process about living, other than killing.”

"The idea of the psychological virus felt completely contemporary,” Boyle continues. "Rather than being a physical infection, the virus taps into the modern phenomenon of social rage. We see the manifestation of it every day in road rage, air rage, hospital rage even supermarket rage! It's great copy for newspapers but there's a truly disconcerting side to it. When you talk to older generations they say there was nothing like that at all in their time, there was certainly violence and fighting but social rage is very much a symptom of modern times.” 

"The actual story follows a group of survivors trying to make their way to safety after the virus has broken out of the laboratory and swept across Britain and possibly the world. Britain has been largely evacuated which has lead to a kind of apocalyptic landscape," explains Boyle. "It was important to me to junk the idea of civil contingencies. A virus is something that you cannot necessarily put up a defense against. This particul

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