Oftentimes when we think of a disaster film, images of volcanic material crashing into the empire state building, seismic shaking of the earth’s crust stealing our lakes and schools, and whirlwinds whisking away our homes and cattle, fill our minds. True, the idea of the unknown taking our day to day life and smashing it to pieces is certainly frightening… but what about the known? For example, what about a film that decides to focus on the devastation that can occur from something as simple as failing to washing your hands?
This is the very real reality presented in Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Contagion.’ As one character in the film even says, the approximate number a person touches their face in any given day is upwards of about 2,000-3,000 times (how many of you were touching your face during that last sentence?). The film begins with AIMM representative Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow, ‘Iron Man 3’) coming home to the U.S. from a business trip to Japan, very sick, and ultimately succumbing to death. Around the world, four others begin showing similar symptoms, and then those close to them, and then those close to those people. You can see where this is going.
‘Contagion’ is basically a narrative “what if” situation of what would happen if the world populace was at risk of being infected by “respiratory fomites” (pathogens spread through touch and breathing). In the film, as the “contagion” spreads, the CDC and its colleagues from around the world are thrust into a race against the clock – will they be able to find a vaccine before the strain decimates the population?
It is an enjoyable film, if a little bit different from normal movie fare. It watches like a documentary, but feels like a sci-fi experience (despite its events taking place in contemporary, boring society). It definitely walks a fine line between coherent and confusing, with whole sections dedicated to scientific verbiage, characters that pop in and out of the narrative, their stories as dispensable as the human lives they represent, and giant leaps in time over a several month period at a moment’s notice. You get the feeling that ‘Contagion’ is trying to be three or four different stories. It’s messy.
But is ‘Contagion’ effective in stoking the embers of change within the viewers who watch the film? Its documentary feel is certainly prevalent throughout, which helps. Chances are you’ll take notice whenever you touch your face (remember, 2,000-3,000 times per day), or maybe you’ll wash your hands more often. Will you think of the possible epidemic you might be spreading by not washing your hands? Perhaps, perhaps not. At the end of the day, the film’s tagline says it best – “Nothing spreads like fear.” And ‘Contagion’ is one big PSA.
The only special feature included on ‘Contagion’ is a short, rapid-paced video called “Contagion: How a Virus Changes the World”, which actually might be worth watching before the film itself since it covers things you might find confusing during the course of the narrative. Either way, you won’t have to worry about spoilers. (The video is also available to watch on YouTube)
‘Contagion’ is rated PG-13 for disturbing content and some language. For more information on questionable content within this film, click HERE.
This film is available at the following retail stores and online markets:
Target – DVD Blu-Ray
Best Buy – DVD Blu-Ray
Walmart – DVD Blu-Ray
Barnes and Noble – DVD Blu-Ray
Amazon – DVD Blu-Ray
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