Home > Uncategorized > “Contagion” and the Semi-Apocalypse

“Contagion” and the Semi-Apocalypse

I’m trying to get back onto the blogging bandwagon. Pray for me.

And what a better way to get back into blogging than to talk about a movie that came out months ago! Forgive me, I saw “Contagion” just a few weeks back while at a conference in Terre Haute, IN (which is about as interesting a town as the name suggests). I thought the movie was top-notch: slick, savvy, focused, and brisk. A deadly virus has emerged randomly and is spreading frighteningly fast across the globe, forcing nations to react–sometimes harshly–to contain the problem and prevent further outbreak. Rather than closely attending to a few characters, it focuses mainly on scientists, doctors, and public health officials (science comes across looking great for once). This is not a movie about the death of a loved one: it’s a movie about statistical death and how you handle the death and fears of whole populations rationally without losing passionate urgency at the same time.It gets as much of a kick out of depleted supermarkets and piles of garbage on the curb as it does the death of a wife or child.

It’s also not what most virus movies become: apocalyptic. It’s not “Twelve Monkeys” or “28 Days” or “I am Legend,” where a single virus completely turns our world upside down into a dystopia. Civilization outlasts the virus here. In a sense, it’s a “semi-apocalypse,” which makes it that much more real, fascinating, and frightening. You could see these events actually play out in a world that exists outside of Southern California. Politically- and environmentally-minded filmmakers and artists should take note. People that want to dramatize the terror of climate change have, generally, gone the “apocalypse movie” route (think “Day After Tomorrow”), trying to make environmental disaster as horrifying as Godzilla. But there’s one problem with that: people begin to worry about it as much as they worry about Godzilla. A “semi-apocalypse” doesn’t allow any escapism–the problems and solutions are emerging out of a world that looks much like our own. This might make diminish the shock value, but “shock” is the last thing modern audiences need. More like a bitter dose of reality.

Oh, and Jude Law’s teeth look terrible in the movie. I mean, really bad.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Liz
    December 5, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Welcome back!

    I’m actually shocked that this movie was any good. And I agree with your idea of a semi-apocalypse: it’s far more terrifying!

    And Jude Law grosses me out. I think it’s partially because he has bad teeth, and also because he’s incredibly effeminate to me. I mean, I realize that shouldn’t be a dealbreaker, but when I hear women gush about how “hot” he is, I get all creeped out. It’s like (heterosexual) women gushing about a drag queen.

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