One of the many themes in 28 Days Later is survival and I couldn’t help but notice how Selena is the only one who has a completely different intake on what survival means opposed to what the rest of the characters think survival means. We see that Selena’s strategy to stay alive and adapt to the environment is to believe her own individual survival overrides the survival of the group. She is willing to leave survivors and the uninfected behind if they are going to slow her down. On the other hand, Jim and the rest of the group, believes that to “survive”, or to stay alive, means that everyone stays together regardless if they are going to slow you down. To them, staying alive does not necessarily mean living and breathing, but rather staying alive in the sense that human beings need each other to feel alive.
Selena takes on the persona of a strong independent woman voicing her pessimistic view of her predicament without any attempts to hide the vengefulness in her voice. An example that illustrates this is the scene after she was forced to kill Mark after he got infected. The scene opens to a wide overhead shot of the deserted city and narrows to focus on the dark outlines of Jim and Selena as they walk in the middle of the street. The two walks on opposite side of the street in separate lanes. This could be symbolic for the separation of their two worlds. Jim’s, which is more empathetic and optimistic and Selena’s, which is pessimistic and cold. This image in itself sets up the melancholy and depressing tone of the rest of the scene. When Jim asks Selena how she knew when Mark became infected, she explains that she didn’t exactly “know” but that she could tell by the look in his eyes. This shows Jim that Selena has no second thought when it comes to doing what she has to do. She goes on to explain the protocol for dealing with the infected and how there is no room for hesitation. She says, “It might be your brother or your sister or your oldest friend – it makes no difference,” exposing her heartless and cold exterior. She proceeds to threaten him saying, “Just so you know where you stand, if it happens to you, I’ll do it in a heartbeat.” When she makes the threat, the camera zooms in on the two on them and shows Selena making eye contact with Jim for the first time during the dialogue, making the message more direct and harsh.
It is as if Selena has to put up a tough exterior to protect her from showing any weakness. Her solution to things is to be apathetic and not feel rather than get hurt as shown when she tries to force Hannah to take the Valium pills before they were about to get gang raped. When we see Selena begin to break out of her shell she goes on the opposite end of the spectrum and becomes a damsel in distress figure and turns dependent on Jim, who starts the movie off as sort of a wimp, becomes aggressive, independent, and dominating. It is almost as if Selena lost her independence and strength for Jim to gain his.
So my question to the class is, do you think displaying a persona of toughness is necessary or a better survival tactic than the strength of a group that protects one another to survive together?