Steven Soderbergh’s fictional thriller about a pandemic caused by a lethal virus originating from China was released back in 2001. Almost a decade later, Contagion’s plot is echoed in recent events as the Chinese government scrambles to control the 2019-nCov breakout that started in Wuhan.
With that being said, it’s no surprise that Contagion has once again piqued the interest of cinephiles. The film skyrocketed to the 10th spot of iTunes’ movie rental chart, placing it among today’s blockbusters including Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite, and Hustlers.
In the film, Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow plays a woman who returns home to her husband (Matt Damon) in Minnesota from a Hong Kong business trip. Cold-like symptoms begin to manifest in her body which she dismisses as jetlag. But after a seizure gets her rushed to a hospital, she dies within 24 hours with her son who contracts the same virus from her. Her husband survives because of his mysterious immunity from the disease. The film’s star-studded ensemble cast also includes Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, and Laurence Fishburne.
Contagion’s popularity comes amid the global alarm rising over the coronavirus pandemic in China. According to Time magazine, the country has 5,974 confirmed cases and counting. The figure surpasses that of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) cases from 2003 which stood at 5,237 in the mainland alone. Symptoms of the flu-like virus include fever, cough, shortness of breath and shortness of breath. Chinese authorities have confirmed that the virus can be contracted from person-to-person contact.