Pinkvilla Picks: Contagion; Gwyneth Paltrow starrer should be on your watchlist amidst coronavirus outbreak

*SPOILERS ALERT* In the 2011 Steven Soderbergh directorial, Gwyneth Paltrow dies within the first few minutes of the film, owing to the MEV-1 virus, originated from the combination of bat and pig virus. The storyline is extremely relatable to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Matt Damon, Contagion released in 2011.
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*SPOILERS ALERT* You may think that me talking about Gwyneth Paltrow dying in the first few minutes of Steven Soderbergh's thriller Contagion (2011) would be a massive spoiler, but that's farther from the truth! That crucial death was just the beginning of the MEV-1 virus, which claimed the lives of 26 million in the "fictional" film. Sound eerily familiar though, right? Well, the film has come back in the spotlight after nearly a decade, because of its similarities to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

According to a recent update by CNN, the coronavirus death toll is currently 6500 and counting! Hence, it comes as no surprise to me that a film like Contagion is being watched by many. According to the Warner Brothers Studio catalogue, the thriller is the second most-watched film post the Harry Potter franchise and is also ranking high in the iTunes and Amazon Prime Video charts. Barry Jenkins, director of Oscar-winning film Moonlight (2016), said it best to New York Times, "I paid $12.99 to watch a 10-year-old movie. I’ve never done that before."

Watch the trailer of Contagion below:

It's interesting to me that Steven didn't just want to make a thriller on a pandemic virus for the heck of it or as a money-making business! Instead, the Erin Brockovich (2000) director wanted to show a cinematic piece that could actually be a reality one day. Amongst the key sources that writer Scott Z. Burns spoke to was Lawrence Brilliant, who is most well-known for eradicating smallpox as well as representatives from WHO (World Health Organisation). The basic consensus regarding the film was not a plausible future but a ticking timebomb as to when the pandemic would strike!

Contagion picks up speed almost immediately as Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns to Minneapolis after a trip to Hong Kong and dies post a seizure. Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon), Beth's husband is immune after being put in isolation. However, the damage is done, as the virus named MEV-1, quickly spreads across the globe leading to 26 million deaths. As the movie progresses, you are given a back up on what happens when the wrong decision is made and it's all about survival of the fittest. You're left with a sour taste as you see people fighting like hooligans in pharmacies when Alan Krumwiede, a conspiracy theorist fakes his illness to sell forsythia, claiming that the homeopathic medicine cured him. The empty airports make me think of the empty streets in Italy, which was once buzzing with thousands of people but is now on lockdown, due to coronavirus spreading like wildfire.

However, not all hope is lost as a cure is found in Contagion! But, the lives lost are innumerable. Contagion digs deep into social distancing, which is being promoted heavily right now, and taking the right precautions when a pandemic strikes!

Giving us some more hope is Mr. Burns himself, who tells Vulture, "Measles has an r-naught [the average number of people a sick person infects while contagious] of 12, while COVID-19 seems to have an r-naught of around 3. And yet we have been able, through the use of science, to make measles something that doesn’t terrify communities anymore. So we have an amazing track record of getting through these things, and we will get through this one."

ALSO READ: Coronavirus helpline numbers for all States & Union Territories in the COVID-19 outbreak

While most of us are working from home due to coronavirus concerns, I'd definitely recommend watching Contagion for the simple reason as to be aware of what not to do when humanity is the one at stake!

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