Directed by Steven Soderbergh; written by Scott Z. Burns; cinematographed by Steven Soderbergh; director of photography, Peter Andrews; edited by Stephen Mirrione; music by Cliff Martinez; production design by Howard Cummings; costumes by Louise Frogley; produced by Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher and Gregory Jacobs. Released in Sep. 2011 by Warner Brothers Pictures. Running time: 106 minutes. Rated PG-13
Everyone should watch this movie, especially now. Two major reasons being 1) it’s entertaining and since we are all home we might as well be entertained 2) it teaches us a lot about the science behind a global pandemic, and all its spill-overs into other areas of our lives (politics, social life, medicine etc)
The story begins with Beth Emhoff played by Gwyneth Paltrow who has left her family for a business trip in Hong Kong and is returning home. As we soon discover, she is patient zero of a deadly virus codenamed MEV1 and this is Day 2. She is feeling a little ill but pays no mind to it. In a matter of a few days she is dead. There is an uncanny attention to the detail of where our hands touch in this film. Elevators, phones, cups, spoons, door knobs, other humans, our faces, especially our faces. You’ve most likely touched your face more than once since you started reading this review. Now you’re wondering if that is true. Don’t bother, just trust me on this one.
The virus spreads faster than wildfire and before we even register the characters names, the world is thrown into a state of panic. Reports of deaths are scaled up to thousands in a matter of days and millions in weeks. The virulence of an invisible enemy exposes the human race to itself in intimate ways and I think this is the part of the story that interests me the most. Both the fictional story told in the movie and this story we are all witnessing in present day 2020, the coronavirus global pandemic, which is still unfolding.
The two-face nature of government
I think the government or at least anything run by humans is fatally flawed and I don’t know why we always seemed surprised by this fact anytime it hits us in the face. Nigeria has it’s own peculiar (extremely annoying) problems—don’t even get me started—but don’t be deceived, the world’s government and seats of power are just as skewed and corrupted. One major problem being, we don’t take science and scientists seriously until we are almost dying. And there’s that hierarchy of who gets information and help first. Some people will always be at the bottom of the food chain. Don’t be surprised if there’s already a vaccine for this thing (and someone already has it? lol, kidding not kidding) sitting in a lab somewhere. Don’t be surprised if this was a bio weapon. Human beings have done worse and they can do worse. Our hope should not be in people, but in God who is just as he is kind.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying we shouldn’t demand from our government. We should, every chance we get. But we shouldn’t get so carried away into thinking, they always have our best interests at heart or that our lives are in their hands. Nah, the government is doing what the government and every human being does best; be selfish. But then I should also mention, that there are undeniable good sides to goverment and power that perhaps we humans would never survive without. I guess, it is just a necessary evil we are stuck with. Now that that is out of the way, we can move to happier topics. Lol.
The fragility of the human existence.
Isn’t it interesting how quickly our lives have been put on hold. It’s crazy, quite frankly. Last month you had plans, you had worries and now everything is meaningless because if you go out you could die. Doesn’t that put into perspective how completely insignificant, permit me to say, the human life is? It’s humbling. Lol. All it took was a virus to halt all our big plans to save the world. I think if not anything you should take this time off work to really think about the essence of life and what truly matters. Some of our priorities are very much in all the wrong place. We are losing days, time that we will never get back… and, think about it? Does it really matter? Does it change anything in the grand scheme of things? Some of us before now were so preoccupied with work and stuff and don’t really take the time to enjoy our lives you know? To just live out the days as they are… the world just hit pause and we don’t know when we will hit play again… Try to get centred on the things that matter in the meantime. Love. Family. Meaningful work. Relationships.
The resilience of the human spirit.
I know right? Didn’t I just say we were weak and can’t predict our future and now I’m saying what again? Lol. Yeah, I know how it sounds but I’ve found that most profound truths are contradictions. Have you noticed how everyone is fundamentally the same and yet so different, divergent even. It’s the same with this, the human race can be wiped out as swiftly and quickly as a snap of fingers but at the same time we are not so easily broken. When given the chance we really do fight back. I think we see that play out in Contagion, in how quickly scientists and disease experts launch into action when they hear there’s a threat. They are not afraid to put their lives in danger and even lose it, or maybe they are but hey they do it anyway. We are resilient. Even though we have our limitations, God also programmed us with a godlike metaphysical strength. I want to call it the grace of God.
When we get through this and we will get through this, we need to remember that we fought for it, or at least some people fought for us. Countless scientists, brave men and women, security personnel, donors, doctors, nurses caregivers gave themselves to seeing that we got through these times. We should be grateful. We can be grateful now too, in advance. And most importantly, be prepared for when the fight will land on our hands too one day, one way or the other. When that day comes, we shouldn’t shy away from the responsibility of making a difference or solving a problem because as cliche and as mehd as it sounds, you can save the world. You were born for that sole purpose; to serve, to be a blessing.
Hope you enjoyed reading this review, even though it was more of my thoughts on current events. I didn’t know it would turn out that way when I started writing it. Writing is often a journey in that way. All the same, watch Contagion. It will give you comfort, hope and knowledge in light of what’s happening in the world today.
Before you go though, how are you doing, really?