Contagion infects theaters

Contagion movie poster
Contagion movie poster

Contagion, a science thriller, was released in theaters September 9, 2011, and has made over 45 million dollars.

The film has a famous, well-rounded cast: Matt Damon, Jude Law, Marion Cotilliard, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kate Winslet.

Director Steven Soderbergh takes the usual disaster movie and adds insight that many directors overlook. Instead of spotlighting the destruction and epidemic, Soderbergh focuses on the fear and paranoia that quickly overtakes society. Unlike many directors who focus only on those who are infected with the disease, Soderbergh also concentrates on those who are immune and working to find a vaccine.

The movie begins with Beth Emhoff (Paltrow) in Hong Kong for a business trip, with a small cough and achy throat. Assuming it is just the seasonal cold, she doesn’t worry about the symptoms she feels as she heads home to Minneapolis. After feeling sick for only two days, Beth starts foaming at the mouth and having seizures, then dies after being rushed to the hospital.

The cast is then introduced to the viewers: Damon as a father in Minneapolis, Cotillard and Winslet working for the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control, respectively, and Law as a well-known blogger.  

Meanwhile, the movie shows clips of people in other parts of the world also affected by the disease. The film portrays people staggering around, seizing, and foaming at the mouth. There is never a dull moment in Contagion: iI is a fast paced and suspenseful movie.  

Contagion captures how quickly an epidemic can spread, considering that most people don’t realize how many times they touch their faces and other things. The average person touches their face 3-5 times each minute – around 2,000 times a day. So obviously, in the film, the epidemic infects a lot of people in a very short amount of time.

The number of deaths rises quickly to over 20 million, but the most frightening aspect of the movie is how quickly the morale and rationale of the people drop. Not only do they become selfish, but they become paranoid, distrustful, and vicious. Mankind turns into an aggressive society, where everyone is competing to have the most reserves. Neighbors turn into enemies, coworkers into foes.

Chaos breaks out practically over night, and Soderbergh does an excellent job portraying the disorder caused when the vaccine finally becomes available to the public. People loot stores, looking for food water and any other resources they can obtain.

It is disturbing to see how quickly fear can take over a nation, and how, in just a short amount of time, a society can implode. Contagion sets up an alarming question: If an epidemic were to spread across the world, is this what would happen?   


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