28 Days Later ....Subject: Resolution
In the screenplay for the film, "28 Days Later," the resolution of the story is determined by the inciting incident that begins the story: an action in which
animal rights activists break into a primate research laboratory and release a monkey infected with a rage virus, which then spreads to man.
The protagonist, Jim (Cillian Murphy)--a bicycle courier--wakes up in a hospital 28 days later and realizes that because he was hospitalized after being hit by a car and was in a
coma for that period of time, he's now one of the few survivors in all of England who hasn't been infected with the virus.
His quest for fellow uninfected survivors eventually unites him with a young woman
named Selena (Naomie Harris) and a teenage girl named Hannah (Megan Burns).
Together, Selena and Hannah become his new family and propel him toward the climax
in which he releases an imprisoned human infected with the rage virus, an action that mirrors the inciting incident, the releasing of the infected monkey in Act I.
So, the inciting incident and the climax are interconnected and determine what happens to Jim after an infected monkey and then an infected human are released from captivity.
The infected monkey and the infected human are filled with the rage that threatens the survival of all mankind and the survival of Jim's two families: his parents and his makeshift family--Selena and Hannah.
It is this rage that helps define the theme of the film, which is that mankind can only survive if the family unit--husband, wife, and child--flourishes and is not endlessly threatened by violent individuals.
After awakening from a coma in a hospital, Jim walks through the empty, garbage-strewn streets of London, England, and is then chased by violent infected men, who are killed by Selena and her cohort, Mark (Noah Huntley).
Afterwards, Jim walks home. There, he finds that his parents have committed suicide to avoid infection. He no longer has a family.
But, before he can dwell on this sad fact, an infected man invades Jim's home, wounding Mark and giving him the rage virus.
Selena kills Mark before he can become violent.
She then tells Jim that once a person becomes infected, that person becomes violent in 10-20 seconds. She then tells him she'd kill him if he were to become infected.
Now, family has become a transient thing for Jim, making it difficult for him to psychologically bond with anyone.
But, that begins to change when Jim and Selena find two other uninfected survivors:
Frank (Brendan Gleeson) and his daughter, Hannah.
Together, all four of them travel toward a military outpost whose soldiers have been transmitting radio broadcasts that promise safety and a cure for infection.
Frank is infected and then killed before the four of them reach the outpost, and Jim, Selena, and Hannah become the guests and eventually the captives of the soldiers, who
are ruled by Major Henry West (Christopher Eccleston).
Major West has lured Jim, Selena, and Hannah to the military outpost with the radio broadcast in order to provide the soldiers with women to rape.
After learning of this, Jim tries to prevent Selena and Hannah from being raped by warning both women.
But, the soldiers seek revenge by trying to kill Jim, who escapes and releases an infected
soldier from captivity.
The infected soldier kills the uninfected soldiers and creates chaos long enough for Selena and Hannah to flee to the outside of the military outpost, which is a large mansion.
As Jim gets into a car with Hannah and Selena to leave the outpost behind, Major West shoots Jim and is then killed by the infected soldier.
Jim wakes up in a small cottage in the countryside 28 days later. He has survived the gunshot wound and is being watched over by his new family, Selena and Hannah.
Together, all three of them string bed sheets together in an open field and use the sheets to signal to a fighter jet that flies overhead.
They have survived by banding together as a family and will re-unite with humanity as a result.
It is the releasing of an infected monkey that results in the death of Jim's biological
family--his parents--in Act I. And, it is Jim's act of releasing an infected human in Act III that helps save his makeshift family--Selena and Hannah--from the soldiers holding them captive.
So, the inciting incident that unleashes the infected monkey's biologically contagious rage upon mankind is the very incident that leads to the resolution, the uniting of Jim with
Selena and Hannah as a family in a small cottage at the end of "28 Days Later."
This film links the beginning of the story to the end to structure the plot and develop the characters.
To do so for your own screenplay:
A. Find news articles in which someone survives an accident or some other
violent incident and finds that his parents have been killed as a result of this
accident or incident.
The accident or incident will be the subject of your story.
The focus of your story will be the chain of events that leads to the
protagonist finding and psychologically bonding with people who have
survived the event that killed his parents.
Define the main characteristics that make your protagonist try to form a
does he model himself after and use to define himself as a person? His
parents? His friends? His colleagues at work?
does he do to show the importance of his relationship to his
biological family? Does he return to his family's home after they are killed?
Does he continue to work on projects they pursued while they were alive?
Does he try to recreate the home life he had with them?
3. When does he realize that survivors of the violent event that he survived
will become his new family? After he saves the survivors from an event
that is similar to what killed his parents? After he realizes that he is willing
to sacrifice his life for these survivors?
4. Where does he experience a realization that he won't have a new family if
he doesn't take a life-and-death risk? Is he at the scene of the original
violent event that killed his parents? Is he in a location that is eerily similar
to the place where his parents were killed? Is he wandering around a place
that reminds him of home?
does he survive the accident or incident that kills his parents? Is he
removed from harm's way as a result of an assignment he is doing at work
or during his leisure time? Does someone inadvertently save him? Is he
temporarily imprisoned and kept safe as a result?
C. Describe the chain of events that leads to the protagonist forming a new
family with fellow survivors.
Do so by defining the process in which he helps these survivors escape from the very thing that killed his parents and continues to threaten his survival.
Define this process by:
1. Showing how the protagonist finds fellow survivors and convinces them to
seek out safety with him.
2. Depicting the protagonist and the survivors re-experiencing the violent
event that caused the death of his parents.
3. Establishing that the protagonist and the survivors are able to survive the
same type of violent event by working together as a family.
This list of questions is a partial screenwriting exercise whose purpose is to help you create a story idea.
To obtain a list of questions that will help you write an entire screenplay, purchase
Scriptologist.com's full screenwriting exercises.