Film in the Times of Corona: The case of Contagion

Reports are coming in from everywhere that productions of all media has come to a standstill. The effect of this pandemic has clearly pervaded into film houses, many of whom have postponed productions, late night shows which now run without the recognizable laughter of the studio audience, and even shows on Netflix that have been postponed until god knows when.

Enter the sudden spike in the viewership of Contagion, a film from 2011 by Steven Soderbergh that is perhaps the most relevant work of film/literature in these hard times. Movie buffs are already pointing out the similarities between the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the events played out in the movie. Make no mistake, this movie is not about a doomsday prediction; rather its a work of art that provides valuable insight into the wave of events that a global pandemic brings with it. And we are already beginning to experience what the characters in this movie do.

The mad scramble for necessities, the fatal flu that cannot be traced back to its origin, governments blaming each other, the bias in the distribution of vaccine, nurses protesting the lack of proper equipment, overburdened health care systems, rioting for something as basic as food – almost every possible consequence is weaved seamlessly into the story… and you cannot but wonder are we indeed heading there?

It is in these difficult and desperate times that man descends to their most primal self. Surprisingly, it is also these same circumstances that drives acts of desperate hope, desperate kindness…something that reminds us how desperately human we can be. A scientist injects herself with a potential vaccine and kisses her infected father on the forehead, as human trials need permissions and allowances that might take months or years to begin. The CDC head gives away his own vaccine to a menial worker’s little child. A dying Dr. Bears struggles to pick up her jacket to throw it towards the dying patient beside her crying out for a blanket.

We recommend this film primarily because of the facts that it presents, something that our not-so-scientifically-trained minds can consume. We also recommend it as it is a readymade document of awareness on what is to be done (and not done) in these turbulent times. But mostly, we recommend this to emphasize that we are so urgently responsible for each other. There is no other time in our lives that has demanded so much empathy. And, we pray, may we be kind.

In case you want to watch the movie, its available on Amazon Prime.

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