Contagion also known as “Fertőzés”
Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
Action Thriller Psychological Drama IMAX
1 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
September 9, 2011 (wide—3,100+ theaters)
DVD: January 3, 2012
loss of loved ones
death in the Bible
plagues in the Bible
humanity in peril
pandemic / lethal global epidemic / fast-spreading, fatal, contagious airborne viral disease outbreak
race against time
searching for cure
Pain and suffering
How did bad things come about? Answer
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer
Does God feel our pain? Answer
What kind of world would you create? Answer
using animals in scientific research
“Nothing spreads like fear.”
Trillions of germs teem our world, from handshakes to busses. We’re often their carriers and transporters, but it’s easy to ignore this, since they’re an invisible part of our hectic lives. In the film, “Contagion” a worldwide viral outbreak starts with something so simple, but ends up killing millions. Filled with a strong ensemble cast, the film proceeds to show what might happen if another pandemic were to spread.
Any potential viewers looking for a high-action thriller will likely be bored; “Contagion” is more of a mental thriller. It aims to be realistic to the core, so there aren’t any dramatic rescues or a hero who saves all. The main character and antagonist is the rapidly mutating virus itself. This makes the film have a potent effect, of what might happen if an epidemic were to strike. It awakens the notion of how small the world really is and how many people we actually come in contact with, all the while mindlessly touching our faces.
Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) was simply returning from a business trip to Hong Kong. Having a layover flight in Chicago, she secretly has an affair with a former flame, before returning home to her son and husband, Mitch (Matt Damon). Things take a drastic turn for the worse when she begins convulsing on the kitchen floor. Mitch rushes her to the hospital, but she dies soon afterwards. Her autopsy sends up red flags, and other deaths worldwide soon make CDC aware of the fatal connections.
Leading the investigation is Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne). He and his medical team aim to find the origin of the virus and possibly create a vaccine. While this can take several months to a year, the virus swiftly kills its victims. Fully claiming government conspiracies in his blog is Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law). Alan claims to have found a natural cure, and his blog followers increase by the millions. He also boldly states that the government knows of this cure, but continues to deny it in order to avoid pharmaceutical companies an exorbitant monetary loss.
With both sides claiming to have the truth, the movie does a pretty decent job showing each side. Would the government really deny a proven homeopathic cure? Or is rushing a briefly-studied vaccination more of a careless, selfish endeavor by the government to appease the public outrage? While one side is shown to be more villainous, at the end, strong points are still made and would make for a good discussion.
“Contagion” is one of the cleaner thrillers to come out. There aren’t any sex scenes, with the affair only hinted at through a phone conversation. Beth’s former boyfriend introduces himself as the man who just had sex with her. Near the end of the conversation, he advises Beth to use a more secure email address. The violence is more on the mild side. There are several scenes of looting, and mobs pushing each other aside, in order to get supplies. One of Mitch’s neighbors gets shot; however, only flashes of light are shown, with the armed men leaving soon afterwards.
The vulgarity/profanity is around the ten mark with 1 ‘f’ word, 6 sh_t, etc. One sexual reference is made about someone getting a “hard on” from researching the virus. Several people are shown having seizures and foaming at the mouth; the camera lingers on their blank stares. One of the characters is shown in a body bag about to be placed in a massive grave. Though not morally wrong, there is one scene which made me cringe a bit. A portion of Beth’s autopsy is shown; after the coroner drills into her skull, her forehead skin is pulled over her face. Afterwards, a small amount of blood squirts onto the medical examiner. The autopsy ends soon after this.
This film approaches the subject of an outbreak with a completely secular view, and I believe this to be the film’s biggest downfall. With their loved ones dying all around them, no one turns to God or even to an unknown higher power. Even atheists or agnostics might pray in sheer desperation, in hopes that someone is listening. Who else can conquer death but the Lord himself? (Hebrews 2:9). Death is sadly a part of life, with no one being promised a tomorrow. I’ve been by the bedsides of brothers and sisters in Christ, singing hymns as they seek rest within the peace and love of Christ. Though some have died, this world is only temporary, and Christians can set their eyes on the unseen beauty of eternity with Christ. In 2 Corinthians 4:18, it reads:
“Contagion” is definitely not the first film to deal with a infectious outbreak; I’d say, however, that it’s the most realistic that I’ve seen. While some might find it boring or anticlimactic, I found it highly impacting. The film lingered in my mind a while after my viewing. It might make you think twice about eating food from a high-traffic area or even wondering whose other credit cards your waitress might have touched before yours. I do recommend the film, but don’t go looking for big explosions or a stunt-defying hero.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.