Movies

Why is Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 movie ‘Contagion’ suddenly viral? It predicted the coronavirus

A still from ‘Contagion’ (2011)

A still from ‘Contagion’ (2011)  

The movie, which starred actors like Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Jude Law and Kate Winslet, offered surprisingly well-researched insight into pandemic procedurals and worst-case scenarios

The 2011 sci-fi/ drama movie Contagion directed by Steven Soderbergh, is suddenly everywhere in the news.

People across the world are renting it, trying to stream it online and binge-watching it... nine years after its release. iTunes has listed it the fourth-most rented movie now, after the US declared a state of emergency. It is also the second most-watched movie in Warner Bros.’ catalogue in 2020.

But why? The events of the movie eerily, even prophetically, predict the outbreak of a deadly virus that causes a pandemic — and it is spread because a chef in Macao didn't wash his hands after handling infected pork meat, and then shakes hands with Gwyneth Paltrow's character!

Starring the likes of Paltrow, Matt Damon, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Laurence Fishbourne, the film begins with Gwyneth Paltrow’s character returning to the USA after contracting a strange illness in Hong Kong. With a few days, she dies, leaving her husband, played by Matt Damon in shock, as the symptoms begin spreading, and becomes an official outbreak.

It is learnt that the virus originated is MEV-1, that spreads after “the wrong pig met up with the wrong bat,” in the words of one scientist in the film.

Why is Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 movie ‘Contagion’ suddenly viral? It predicted the coronavirus

With the several theories on the spread of COVD-19 from the Wuhan food and animal market in China, it’s no wonder that the themes in the film resonate with people today, fighting to battle the spread of the coronavirus.

Contagion also offers a deep and surprisingly well-researched insight into pandemic procedurals and worst-case scenarios, with chilling images of empty airports, vacant cities and people quarantined in special wards or their homes itself: all of which can be identified with in the current climate.

While director Soderbergh has yet to comment on the sudden virality of his movie, Contagion writer Scott Z. Burns spoke out recently against the Donald Trump administration for not responding appropriately to the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.

“It’s stunning to me that our administration can’t put out a clear message on how people can stay safe and what our tools are for understanding the current spread. There’s a video on YouTube of a song they did in Vietnam about hand-washing and how important it is. Why isn’t our government putting out public service messages about how to stay safe? That isn’t that hard,” he said.

The 2011 movie was a box office, grossingover $136 million worldwide at the time of release.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Related Topics
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 2:13:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/why-is-steven-soderberghs-2011-movie-contagion-suddenly-viral-it-predicted-the-coronavirus/article31067989.ece

Next Story