Traffic was a film released by Steven Soderbergh and was one of his most successful productions. It made four times its production costs in sales as well as netting four Oscars, including one for best director. The film had multi levelled plots that are also apparent in this new film, Contagion.
The film is a documentary/drama that is about the breakout of a global pandemic disease. Contagion has many big name stars that ensure it will make quite the splash at the box office. We see Gwyenth Paltrow in the opening scenes which start on day two of the disease outbreak. She is returning from a business trip to Hong Kong and the movie also shows how people in China as well as London are getting sick. Paltrow’s character spreads the disease to her husband, played by Matt Damon and her son.
Lawrence Fishburne plays the head of the CDC (Centres for Disease Control), which is based in Atlanta, United States. Upon hearing of the outbreak of the virus he sends his leading expert on disease, who is played by Kate Winslet, to find out what caused the outbreak of this deadly pandemic. The film also follows experts from the WHO (World Health Organisation) who travel to China to investigate the virus.
Another of the many sub plots details how the population is gripped with fear of the virus, which is only aggravated by a conspiracy writer, played by Jude Law. Meanwhile the CDC is racing to come up with a vaccination for the disease.
As with Traffic, Contagion is told with a series of sub plots and each one has a big star attached to it. Unlike Traffic however the sub plots are not as developed as the viewer would want. Despite all the stars attached to this film, the most notable character is the virus itself and viewers can see how it spreads throughout the world.
Some sub plots are stronger than others and Matt Damon’s and Jude Law’s are of particular note. We get to see how the world goes into social upheaval at the news of the virus through Jude’s and how the virus affects people on a very personal level in Damon’s.
The movie has a touch of realism as it looks at how the fictional virus in the film compares with real life contagions. Comparisons are made with the H1N1 and SARS virus, as well as the less recent, but more deadly, Spanish Flu, which killed 50 million people early last century. The film was written by Scott Z Burns and is a gripping story and the viewer will be excited as they follow the scientists trying to come up with a vaccine.
The makers of ‘Avatar’, the hugely successful film directed by James Cameron originally offered the lead role to Matt Damon, who turned down that offer and later on says, he regrets it.
Matt Damon was originally offered the leading role of the crippled marine, Jake Sully. Instead the roll went to an Australian actor named Sam Worthington as Matt ended up passing on it due to issues in scheduling.
Talking with Playboy magazine he said that he really wanted to work with James Cameron, and still wants too. He knew the film was going be a hit and everyone would see it, and he could just as easily have been the star.
The director, once Damon had said that he was unable to take on the lead, gave him the option of another role and he says that he remembers thinking that whoever got the lead would be one lucky guy, but ultimately was unable to take part due to his schedule.
He also was supposed to be in the Gay cowboy film, Brokeback Mountain, directed by Ang Lee opposite Joaquin Phoenix, but he had just finished ‘All The Pretty Horses’ as well as ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’, which include two of the same themes.
Damon had discussed with Heath Ledger how he handled ferociously kissing another man in the scene, and Heath Ledger admits he drank half a case of beer before hand, but then laughed and added that you just need to go for it, and if you cannot pull it off then you have no right to be in the film.