Did the 2011 Hollywood thriller ‘Contagion’ depict today’s lethal coronavirus outbreak?
Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 thriller Contagion has recently emerged amidst the horrifying outbreak of the coronavirus in China. Multiple media sources have parallelized the film with the deadly epidemic rapidly spreading across the country like wildfire.
What happens in the film?
Contagion, written by Scott Z. Burns, stars all the big names in Hollywood including Marion Cotillard, Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyenth Paltrow, Kate Winslet and Jennifer Ehle. The story begins with a woman (played by Paltrow) who embarks on a Hong Kong business trip, with a stop at Chicago before returning back to Minneapolis. She comes down with a cold, and upon arriving home, finds that her son has fallen sick too.
Read More: China battles coronavirus outbreak
As the story progresses, her condition deteriorates and the disease eventually kills her. Medical practitioners, researchers and public health officials try to investigate the virus and contain it. Social order suffers as the virus claims several lives across the world.
How is it similar to the coronavirus?
The previous week, coronavirus, that is said to have similar symptoms to an acute respiratory illness, spread from China’s Wuhan to numerous regions in the mainland claiming 25 lives and infecting more than 800 people. Airports have been closed down, urban centers rendered vacant and quarantines and lockdowns administered for millions of people.
Scenes similar to this are also performed in the film. Fans of the thriller are pondering over the resemblance of the deadly epidemic to the coronavirus while even turning to possible solutions to the outbreak in the film.
According to a news source, as people flock to find answers from fictional depictions, the World Health Organization remarked that 2019-nCoV has not been deemed a global health emergency. Discussions are still being held to determine the exactitude because it is still said to be a “novel” virus.
Read More: Coronavirus spreads to every region in China
In the film, however, the contagion provoked a doomsday-like situation – a level of concern the coronavirus has not caused as of yet. WHO officials said that the virus is being contained to a great extent.
The virus has taken upto 170 lives currently and spread across every region in China.
Actor and director of the film, Stephen Ford, tweeted, “For years I said that Contagion is one of the scariest films ever made and now here we are.“
“It’s one of my favourite films and yes it’s terrifying. And now it’s all I can think about. Let’s hope I’m immune like Matt Damon,” joked a Twitter user.
A writer at a news source admitted that the film heightened tensions – as it is supposed to do. However, the portrayal of a deadly disease taking over today’s globalized world gained great admiration from critics earning it numerous awards.
What’s more interesting is how the virus in the film is shown to stem from a bat infection that is contracted at a Macau casino, and eventually transmitted to Paltrow when she shakes her hand.
Health officials pinpointed the coronavirus to a wet market in Wuhan, China housing seafood, the CDC said. Despite less exposure to animals, the human-to-human transmission of the virus is particularly alarming.
Business Insider reported that the director of Contagion sought inspiration for the fictional virus from the 2003 SARS outbreak. The SARS and coronavirus are found to have nearly similar causes.
The scientists in Contagion try developing a vaccine in the span of four months to control the virus. But CDC scientists say it would hardly be possible to create a vaccine given that amount of time.
“It could take 4 to 6 months if assuming a vaccine could be created,” the CDC were reported to have said.
Nevertheless, the film sparked curiosity for its alikeness to the nature of the current outbreak in China. But while we hope to seek help from pop culture and fictional parallelisms, these depictions themselves could end up spooking us more than we already are.