The Basic Story/Plot :
Contagion is a film which shows a global pandemic struck because of a deadly novel virus, its origins and how the world finally conquers it. This 2011 thriller by Steven Soderbergh is a must watch for all cause of the strong storyline and a rigid cinematography. The film starts with Beth Emhoff (By Gwyneth Paltrow) in Hong Kong who has already contracted the virus during her business trip and is considered to be the first carrier. The horror just begins from here. As she reaches her hometown Mineeapolis, she gets severely ill and eventually dies due to this unknown virus which later on is identified as MEV – 1 virus which is apparently modelled upon the bat-borne Nipah Virus. Mitch Emhoff (By Matt Damon), the husband of Beth Emhoff, quickly quarantines his daughter as he learns about this disease.
The whole world witnesses a sudden surge of cases and deaths because of this deadly virus and strict quarantine measures are adopted all over since the virus is identified to be a highly contagious one with the mortality rate souring at around 25-30%. The story continues as several epidemiologists, service officer Dr. Erin Mears (By Kate Winslet) and Physician Dr. Ellis Cheever (By Laurence Fishburne) get together at the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDCs) of USA as they coordinate with Dr. Leonora Orantes who is an epidemiologist at the World Health Organization (WHO). Jude Law who has played Alan Krumwiede, is portrayed as a conspiracy theorist who is responsible for a parallel pandemic called ‘fear’ and this element is perfectly shown since there are certain factors in such situations who constantly spread false news and are a part of some or the other form of theory rather than focusing on the solution, perfectly adds to the element of horror in the film.
All the members from these major institutions are responsible to constantly track and help contain the further spread of the virus. Simultaneously, the race for vaccines begins to produce and manufacture a safe for all vaccination since the situation becomes worse over the period of time as millions of people are going to die all over the world. Dr. Ally Hextall identifies the potential vaccination from the available MEV-1 cell culture of bat cells. In the process, she injects herself with this experimental vaccine and it works on her which later on is declared as a successfully working vaccine. The vaccine is then provided to everyone by the CDC based upon a lottery system according to the birthdates. In the end, a bulldozer is shown destroying trees for a construction project as a bad flies and drops an infected piece of a banana in a pig farm. The pig is then used to prepare food by a chef who passed onto the infection through a handshake to Beth.
The Review :
The direction by Steven Soderberghis is really crisp and doesn’t create any gaps as one watches the film. The cinematography helps the viewer better understand the film which adds the elements of fear, horror, hope and surprise from time to time. The details are captured very well throughout the fim as it is scientifically accurate and well researched as to how a real life pandemic situation could turn out to be. The casting is done perfectly as all the A-list Hollywood actors have done their roles very realistically and perfectly fit their respective characters. Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Bryan Cranston, Jennifer Ehle all have beautifully acted.
Cliff Martinez’s soundtrack works with its magic throughout the film. The critics also perceived the film as one of the best and realistic movies and was well appreciated. The scientific community also approved the film as the film, though science-fiction based, held onto various researches and scientific facts. Filming locations in the USA and Hong Kong are perfectly captured and used to portray the message. The writing and dialogues do deserve a special mention because of the task they had to carry a clear message amongst the audiences and also to intelligently reach them through this tough to explain concept. The pace seems to be a little slow at times but the film has made sure that no shot/scene is unwanted cause of the fact that each one of those is required to complete the story and portray the message in the end.
This film is really an eye opener for all as the end depicts a very subtle yet important message. Bats and other such wild animals have pathogens or viruses which can prove to be potential carriers of those if human contact happens. Destruction of habitats of these species means that there is now a very high possibility that we are getting in contact with them and adding consumption of meat to it worsens the situation. The current Coronavirus pandemic is also said to have spread through the consumption of such kinds of animals or birds. One person gets it and if the contagiousness is high, it spreads really quickly due the already existing high population rates of many countries across the world.
My Rating for the Film : 4.5/5