Contagion on Amazon Prime Video: that’s why recover it in streaming, nine years after its release
Among the side effects of fears related to coronavirus is the reevaluation of tv series and movies that at the time of their release they had not had the desired success. Among them, a special case is that of Contagion, Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 medical thriller, with a compelling plot and a stellar cast (there are Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law).
Contagion is the fictional tale of a pandemic that kills 26 million people all over the world. The film that until December 2019 was at number 270 among the most viewed titles in the Warner Bros catalogue has climbed the ranking to second place, beaten only by the Harry Potter films. At the time of release, he was praised by critics, especially for Soderbergh’s skilful direction, but the takings were never sensational, stopping at 135 million dollars (it had cost 66).
Contagion is also among the most viewed on Amazon Prime Video, where it is currently available on demand. The reasons for this success? Surely the fact that the film describes a scenario that perhaps ten years ago might have seemed catastrophic and unrealistic, while today it is a photograph, even if for the worse, of the situation we are experiencing. So close to reality that we have come to know that it looks more like a documentary than a cinematographic fiction.
What are the plot elements that make Contagion so realistic?
1. The virus in the Soderbergh film, called MEV-1, originates in Asia, in Hong Kong, due to a species jump between a bat and a pig (here you can read the spillover theory for which a pathogen from its usual host animal, for example, a bat or a gorilla, as in the case of Ebola, changes and is transmitted to humans).
2. The virus is easily transmitted through the hands (anyone who sees Contagion will never look at a handle in the same way again). The first symptom of the disease is a violent and persistent cough, accompanied by a high fever. Patient Zero is a manager who travels between Hong Kong and the United States (Gwyneth Paltrow). Attention, mini spoiler. Once back home, she will infect her young son. The husband, played by Matt Damon, will instead prove immune.
Kate Winslet in Contagion
3. Dr. Anthony Fauci, or the doctor appointed by the American government to monitor the data and advise Donald Trump’s choices, has a consideration in Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne), helped by the young and courageous doctor Ally (Kate Winslet) and by a tireless biologist who works to find a vaccine.
4. “Don’t talk to anyone. Don’t touch anyone“: this is the (frightening) slogan of Contagion, which today seems more realistic than ever. The concept of “social distance” – to which we are now accustomed – it often emerges in the film, even if in addition to the masks people more often wear real diving suits: full suits with helmet and respirator incorporated. The virus they are dealing with is very aggressive and attacks the brain, causing encephalitis that rarely leaves a chance.
5. “Alongside the work of trained scientists, Contagion also highlights the work in the shadow of conspiracy theorists who profit from the spread of misinformation and fake news. Among them, a blogger played by Jude Law.
It is really difficult to look at Contagion and not admire its accuracy and truthfulness, beyond the much more apocalyptic scenario that he paints and which, fortunately, does not concern us.