Movies | May 23, 2020 7:30 am

Steven Soderbergh Reflects on “Contagion” and the Real Pandemic

The director discusses the current crisis in relation to his fictional one

Director Steven Soderbergh at the Premiere of "Contagion" in Paris
Director Steven Soderbergh at the "Contagion" premiere in Paris, France in 2011.
Dominique Charriau/WireImage via Getty

Director Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 movie Contagion has been a topic of discussion for several months now. In telling the story of a pandemic that leads to global tragedies, widespread quarantines and unethical people looking to profit from it, the parallels to COVID-19 aren’t hard to figure out. (It’s also eminently watchable.)

Since Contagion began to feel less like a big-screen thriller and more like a documentary, there have been a host of reconsiderations of it — including a memorable interview with screenwriter Scott Z. Burns. But the question remains: what does Soderbergh think of the present moment as it relates to his film? Now we have an answer.

A new interview with the director in the Los Angeles Times explores Soderbergh’s reaction, and it turns out he’s less than shocked by the ongoing pandemic.

Soderbergh told Times that the research he did for Contagion strongly suggested something like COVID-19 might be imminent. “Everybody we talked to when we were preparing that film, every expert, when we asked them how will the next one start, to a person, they said, wet market, Asia, there’s probably going to be a bat involved,” he said.

Soderbergh expressed the most surprise at the way both people and governments have responded to the crisis. “The sociological behavior, how people have behaved as individuals, as states, as countries — that’s been really fascinating,” he said. He noted that he and Burns had consciously told a story that didn’t venture into that territory with their film.

It’s an illuminating look into a film that’s become all too relevant in the last few months.

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