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The Day of the Triffids

Bill Masen (Howard Keel) is one of the few people on Earth who didn't lose his sight after a mysterious meteor shower, but the world he sees ain't pretty. It's been taken over by flesh-eating triffids, a plant species that can walk on its roots, shoot poison and may or may not have been bioengineered by Russians. Masen discovers that the ambulatory flora brings out a range of cooperative and competitive reactions from his fellow humans. As Masen tries to keep himself and a girl he rescues alive, scientists Tom and Karen Goodwin (Kieron Moore and Janette Scott), seek a way to defeat the triffids once and for all.

Directed by Steve Sekely, "The Day of the Triffids" (1962) is based on a 1951 book by sci-fi novelist John Wyndham, who cited the 1898 "The War of the Worlds" as an inspiration. In Wyndham's original tale, the triffids are not defeated; they are only kept, uneasily, at bay. In film and book both the plants turn up the heat, but it's human nature that reaches the boiling point. Despots rise and the sighted help or withdraw from the blind, the strong help or exploit the weak. As with the best sci-fi, "The Day of the Triffids" invites the audience to ask themselves, "What would I do in a catastrophe?"

The Science

Jim Ehleringer

Jim EhleringerBiologist Jim Ehleringer of the University of Utah discusses carnivorous plants and the film "The Day of the Triffids."

 

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Jim Ehleringer

Professor of Biology

Ecological Society of America

Biological Scientist

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