Contagion is a movie about the world as it goes through a pandemic due to a virus contracted from bats, to pigs, and then through people who travelled from Hong Kong, China. The story circulates around the people and the government response for controlling and containing the virus along with their attempts to find a vaccination for those contaminated. As the movie progresses the reactions of citizens and essential workers such as doctors, Governors, CDC members start to increase in more and more hectic and fearful ways. This is how we start to see a dystopian theme within the movie because as more people become scared for their lives, the more that they live in fear and begin to react in irrational ways that affect others. Actions such as violent protesting, robbing, and being distant or skeptical with others to the point where weapons such as shotguns are being held in everyday life.
What’s really interesting about this movie is how realistic it is especially considering what’s going on in our world today. Currently we are going through our own pandemic with the coronavirus and it parallels well with the reactions and actions seen in this movie. It makes you question if what’s going on today really is becoming an example of a dystopia. Contagion is a great example of how the world can be the cause for its own suffering and annihilation. The virus spreads rapidly due to common human actions such as hugging, public transportation, and negative actions such coughing and sneezing openly around people, and not sanitizing oneself.
Some other dystopian themes in Contagion were similar to what we have seen in the book 1984. At some point when the virus started getting very out of control, the hospitals started to run out of resources and were not able to support everyone in need. They ran out of blankets for those who are sick and shivering and there were long lines for people who wanted to get tested. The hospital workers had to tell the large group of people that they did not have enough materials and could only support 50 of all the people waiting to get treated that day. In 1984 the people who lived in the society did not have adequate resources at all. They had to use whatever was offered to them and were brainwashed to be satisfied with just that. In the movie, the citizens of America were used to having what they needed, when they needed it. They had a very hard time adjusting to what was going on with things being scarce. This caused panic and irrational buying such as buying out a whole grocery store and stealing even though others would also need resources. We see this already today. In the early stages of the virus pandemic the grocery stores started to run out of supplies and they currently still have very few supplies of the essential goods that people need to stay safe and to stay healthy such as toilet paper, water, and bread.
Some of the other things seen within the movie that we are currently going through today includes: a curfew, a social distancing protocol, and many people who walk around with gloves and masks on. Those who are of higher standing can more easily isolate themselves while those who are of lower status or are not a government worker suffer more. They receive less information and have less ability to buy the things they need to stay healthy. This makes both our society and the movie seem very dystopian since not everyone can get the things they need to survive. Decisions on who gets to live and who will have to fight for their lives are also being made both today and in the movie based on the amount of materials hospitals have.
Towards the end of the movie we see a live national broadcast talking about who will receive the first set of vaccines. They decided based on a random drawing of birthdays. It makes you question if that’s where we are headed in America when a vaccine finally gets created for the Coronavirus. How will our government decide who receives them first? Who will have to wait longer and risk their lives for longer until more resources and medicine is available to support everyone?