The short scene showing Jim and Selena (Naomie Harris) driving on the deserted M1 to Manchester with Frank (Brendan Gleeson) and Hannah (Megan Burns) is not the most important moment in the story, but it adds perfectly to the feeling that Britain has been completely lost. An empty highway is a creepy sight, simply because it almost never happens. It was a difficult task to retire in 2001, but the production crew managed to get permission to shoot a short scene early in the morning.
About IMDb, between 7 and 9 in the morning, British police created a rolling roadblock to slow down motorists while filmmakers shot footage of Frank’s cab driving up the deserted motorway. And on the commentary track for the film (via Hero Magazine), Danny Boyle revealed that the real traffic was only just out of frame as his crew used a total of 10 cameras to shoot the 60 second long scene.
The director explained the reasoning behind the striking scene and said: “We wanted to see Britain as a mythical landscape. Unfortunately it is a relatively small place and we tend to be overwhelmed with it through background images from even a few days of television.” went on to add that “we felt it was important to try to make it unknown so that the audience could look at it in a slightly different way, a bigger way than they do in their normal lives.”
It certainly worked. The eerily quiet but utterly intense vision of post-apocalyptic Britain became the new benchmark for what could be done within the horror genre, with many calling it the best zombie movie ever.