Contagion

May 7, 2012

Dr. Leonora Orantes is in Hong Kong investigating how the virus had spread from Beth Emhoff to other people and where this spread originated. She tracks it to Macau saying, “Beth Imhoff used an ATM at a casino in Macau. Citibank released her records. We have her using the machine at 10:43 just off the casino floor. I want to see casino security footage for 2 hours on either side of that.” She also finds out that Sum Feng’s mother and others in his village have also been infected, which later causes him to kidnap her and take her to the village, so that her access to the cure will allow them to get the vaccine faster.

This scene, among others in the film, illustrates the fast and untraceable origins of the virus in that the world is too connected to isolate any incident. The repercussions of the interconnectedness of the world are what spread the virus far and wide, while also forcing Dr. Orantes to travel to Hong Kong and investigate the virus there. Her role as the investigator gets her into further trouble as she is then taken hostage, as are other officials like her all around the world. The use of Dr. Orantes in order for Sum Feng’s to gain access to the vaccine for his village also shows how the world is connected, wherein a man in rural China can contact a woman from Switzerland to contact authorities in the U.S., where the vaccine is being developed.
Another aspect of Dr. Orantes investigation that I found troubling was that although she was able to use video footage to figure out who had been infected by Beth Imhoff, her investigation stopped at the human level. As the last scene of the film showed, the virus had bat and pig roots, but these animals cannot be traced as their number and their identification is not like that of humans. The interconnectedness of the world is at once the cure and the cause of the virus.

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