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Movie Reflection – “Contagion”

“Contagion” is an electrifying medical film that was produced in 2011. Throughout the plot of the movie, it is vivid that fomite is a dangerous agent that transmits and spreads a deadly virus. Besides, public health officials and medical experts make every attempt to control the rapid spread of the epidemic. It can also be observed that the pandemic causes gross social disorder among the affected communities. Towards the end of the film, the spread of the disease is halted after the discovery of a vaccine that can counter its effects. Steven Soderbergh directed the film.

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From the outset, the film is largely ultra-realistic owing to its overrated and graphic nature. It attempts to depict how the scientific community can respond or react to an epidemic. It is evident that whenever a mega disease outbreak affects a community, it might lead to mass panic. In fact, ordinary people, government officials and healthcare professionals are all caught up in a state of unpreparedness leading to poor response. Disease outbreaks may also collapse social order. Hence, it is quite cumbersome to control a novel pathogen. Scientists might struggle for a long time before concluding their findings. It is also yet another challenge for health experts and government officials to strike equilibrium between professional responsibilities and personal motives.

Public health response to pandemics and epidemics is usually affected by a number of factors and limitations. As already hinted out, lack of preparedness is a major setback in the management of disease outbreaks. However, there are some instances when scientists may take surplus time before inventing a proper vaccine owing to the complex nature of the primary pathogen.

Both Hurricane Katrina and the September 11 attacks must have inspired the creation of this movie bearing in mind that the film features a phenomenon that is a threat to public health and the poor response mechanism to address the calamity. The film can also be closely compared to the 1997 Malaysian Nipah virus and its devastating effects especially after viewing the pigs and bats’ chain of contagion.

Themes such as collective behavior and crowd psychology have also been presented in the movie. In fact, the serious disruption of social order and mass hysteria depicted in the film are a result of group behavioral tendencies when reacting to emergencies. During such disease outbreaks, both medical experts and government authorities often find themselves in a state of helplessness, outrage, and utter surprise. Contemporary public emergencies are also worsened by conspiracy theories and various forms of new media like social networks and blogs. Members of the public tend to obtain ready and misleading information from such channels while others lack the necessary information altogether. These factors lead to fear and disinformation.

Any form of the unknown virus requires adequate time for identification and reaction. Avoiding panic and facilitating full disclosure of available information should be the main role of Cheever in the movie. Hypocrisy, selfishness, and greed have been indirectly criticized in the film. These vices can indeed lead to negative consequences whenever there is an outbreak of a disease. Worse still, social networking in modern culture is quite compelling to an extent that it hinders social distancing from issues affecting members of the public. As much as healthy individuals might be isolated during epidemics in order to limit the spread of a given virus, the state of preparedness among key stakeholders is still below the expected standards.

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