UK Script consultant looks back on Contagion (2011)

With the world in the grip of Covid-19 a scary sounding new virus and respiratory illness originating in China, as a script writer for hire, online screenwriting expert. and UK script consultant I decided to look back on Contagion (2011) a film directed by Steven Soderbergh which is starting to look very much like a documentary about our current health crisis.

 Contagion, despite being nearly ten years old is fast becoming the most rented film on Amazon Prime, and it seems very well researched and almost prophetic about how governments would handle the outbreak of a new and dangerous virus, and how the general public react too.

Yes, there’s panic buying, worry, social distancing, death, the government telling everyone to ‘keep washing your hands’ despite knowing that chaos is just around the corner.  The whole episode takes place over a six month period, the illness builds to a peak, and then slowly gradually things start to return to normal (or at least, a new normal).

It’s a scary and depressing film in the light of the Coronavirus outbreak, the disease in the film seems a lot more dangerous, and death comes quickly to people of all ages who catch it. Matt Damon’s character is immune, but we’re not given much explanation why (because they don’t really know), the rush to develop a vaccine is covered in depth, and the breakdown of society is covered too (right down to the growing rubbish on every street).

This is a serious film and as I said, it seems well researched and scripted with remarkable accuracy based on where the world finds itself today.  The performances are good, and special mention should go to Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne and Jennifer Ehle (the people who try best to help).

The most remarkable thing about this film, is that, it avoids any sensationalism, I remember watching it when it came out and comparing it to other ‘virus or disease outbreak films’ – it’s nothing like any of them, it’s serious, sober and well researched. There’s very little dramatic licence or over boiled suspense or heighted terror.  The disease arrives, kills and infects a lot of people, some die, some get better, society suffers, the economy suffers, but slowly we adjust, and get some semblance of ‘normality’ back, after a while.

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire, UK Script editor  and script doctor for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant and freelance script writer for hire and online screenwriting expert. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on or hire him on Peopleperhour

His directorial debut, the rubber reality horror thriller Markham will be released in 2020.