Coronavirus, ‘Contagion’, and why we are living in a movie of infected


The images of the Twin Towers falling were the only thing that was seen in the screens around the world during the hours of the September 11, 2001. What is certain is that if, instead of planes impacting against the Twin Towers, the news would have taught spacecraft in a circular launching laser, we would have felt the same. The attack seemed unreal, in addition to surreal. It was ‘the war of The worlds’ broadcast by Orson Welles made a reality. It was a scene out of a Hollywood movie. When the explosive expert who had detonated the White House in ‘Independence Day’ saw the pictures of the 11S, he thought: “I have created these drawings”. The guilt prevented him from leaving the house for two weeks, I could not look people in the face. The journalists themselves who had to tell of the attack made allusions to science fiction movies, aware of that the real fact, and historical, could be insert within the imaginary of the film. The Twin Towers had already been attacked by King Kong in 1976, when the giant monkey climbed the famous buildings new yorkers and launched helicopters against them. A century after the creation of the film, since nothing can happen in the world that has not been told and shown in a movie.

'Independence Day'

Cut to march of 2020. For several weeks a new virus which originated in China, unknown, and no cure, has been spreading around the world. The first cases appeared at the end of December, resulting in a market of Wuhan. The disease it causes, the COVID-19, is similar to the flu, but the virus spreads through the air, which makes it virtually inevitable. A week later there are the first cases of people infected outside of China, in Thailand. The first death, of a man of 61 years in Wuhan. Most outbreaks in Japan, South Korea, and the first infected in the united States, at the end of January. The World Health Organization declares a public health emergency of international. While the news of the pandemic spread, and the global concern increases, a 2011 film has been moving posts between what is seen more in the catalog of iTunes until you get to the top 10: ‘Contagion’ Steven Soderbergh. In the midst of the lack of information, or, what is worse, misinformation (the coronavirus, if we survive, will be remembered as the first pandemic lived in the era of the “fake news”), the people have resorted to the film as what it is: a reflection and premonition of the reality.

Said Angel Quintana in his book ‘After the movie’ that “the show sets up the collective unconscious of a society”, and that the film “gives form to the fleeting nature of life and embalms the random”. So that now gives us the feeling that we are living inside of a film infected. Like those scenes of science fiction have prophesied the 11S, or at least how we would feel to see your pictures, there are many movies that revolve around pandemics that we had prepared for this moment. The quarantines in bulk that we saw in ‘Burst’ or ‘Infected’, the animal origin of a lethal virus with the that was ’28 days later’ or the chaos all-knowing and almighty, who takes hold of societies in zombie movies such as ‘Train to Busan’ or ‘World War Z’. The informational collected images that we came chewed up by the film, perhaps so that we do not atragantemos now with them. Although there has been no film that foresaw the obsession world by toilet paper, which makes me think that we are not living in a revelation of Roland Emmerich but one of Nacho Vigalondo.

Media as Vulture have taken to making lists of films apocalyptic on infected and pandemics. It is a way to take advantage of the time which we are going to have to spend at home for a few weeks, but viewing is also understood as a reading of what we are experiencing. What many, we are doing the whole life: to try to understand what happens to us through film. These lists include titles such as ‘Children of men’, ’12 Monkeys’, or even ‘[REC]’. The possibilities are endless, although I’ve thought about it a lot in the last few days in ‘The incident’, one of the biggest duds, M. Night Shyamalan. In it, a virus that spread quickly through the air, forced people to commit suicide. In the end, the main character played by Mark Wahlberg, he discovered that the virus, which was propagated all over the world, was a system of self-defense on the planet. One of the consequences of the coronavirus in Wuhan, and in China in general has been an amazing decrease in pollution, caused by unemployment, industrial and social development to which it has subjected the country to stop the spread of the virus. In this case there were ‘The Simpsons’, but ‘The incident’ who had predicted the coronavirus.

'The incident'

‘Contagion’, a prophecy in the form of a film

Among all the movies of pandemics, ‘Contagion’ is most similar to a prophecy recorded in the book of Nostradamus. The fictitious virus in the movie, called MEV-1, arises from a bat, an animal in which the experts are placing the source of the coronavirus. The film focuses on how the pandemic causes panic in society and created a situation of chaos that affects markets and governments, a situation that we are living in these days. It is not a coincidence: the screenwriter, Scott Z. Burns, consulted with numerous epidemiologists to write the story more realistic as possible. The experts already told him by then it was only a matter of time that there would be another pandemic. ‘Contagion’, a film that teachers of public health and biology put their students each year, was intended to be more a fable than a product of mass entertainment, but no one made the case. It was just a movie palomitera most of Hollywood.

‘Contagion’ began with the death of the character played by Gwyneth Paltrow. Maybe that’s why the actress decided to upload a photo to Instagram in which sported a mask of the size of the helmet of Darth Vader. “On the way to Paris. What paranoid? What prudent? What panic? What placid? What pandemic? What Propaganda? Paltrow goes to sleep with this post on the plane. I’ve already been in this movie. Be careful. I do not bear the hands, and laváoslas with frequency”he said in a photo caption in which he spoke of himself in third person as Aida Nízar and made reference to the 2011 film. Some accused her of causing more alarmism than is necessary, but after all we have released to empty the supermarkets, demonstrating that no one is immune to panic more irrational. It is precisely the advertising slogan of ‘Contagion’ when it came to the cinemas contained in the notice most important of the film, a prophecy that has been fulfilled 9 years later: “Nothing is more contagious than fear”.