Part 1:

Contagion is a 2011 American science fiction medical thriller film directed by Steven Soderbergh. The film is smart, intelligent and entertaining, one of the disaster genre. The script quickly appealed to all of the ensemble cast that included: Marion Cotillard, Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, and Jennifer Ehle. The film confirmed to me, at least, the importance of science in unifying humanity, indeed, in humanity’s very survival.

The plot of Contagion documents the rapid spread of a virus. The plot also involves attempts by medical researchers and public health officials to identify and contain the disease, the loss of social order in a pandemic, and finally the introduction of a vaccine to halt its spread. To follow several interacting plot lines, the film makes use of the multi-narrative "hyperlink cinema" style, popularized in several of Soderbergh's films.

Contagion premiered at the 68th Venice Film Festival on September 3, 2011, and went on general release on September 9. I saw the film last night, 16/7/’15, nearly four years later. Readers can easily access more details on the plot, on the cast and characterization, the production of the film, its conception and themes, the medical accuracy, as well as the reception and box office revenues.

Part 2:

Contagion is also the name of two other movies, as well as several pieces of music and TV programs. The term ‘contagion’ is also found in many other contexts: behavioural contagion, the tendency to mimic others' behaviour; the law of contagion, a folk belief related to magical thinking; financial contagion, a scenario in which financial shocks spread to other financial sectors; hysterical contagion, an effect in which a group exhibits physical symptoms due to a psychological cause; sacred contagion, the belief that spiritual properties pass from one entity to another; complex contagion, a social networking phenomenon, and contagion heuristic, a psychological technique. I will leave it to readers with the interest to find out the details about these various forms of contagion, but I will say a few things about emotional contagion, the tendency for two individuals to emotionally converge.

One view of emotional contagion was developed by Elaine Hatfield who emphasizes that this form of contagion happens through automatic mimicry and synchronization of one's expressions, as well as vocalizations, postures and movements with those of another person. When people unconsciously mimic their companions' expressions of emotion, they come to feel reflections of those companions' emotions. Emotions can be shared across individuals in many different ways both implicitly or explicitly. For instance, conscious reasoning, analysis and imagination have all been found to contribute to the phenomenon.

Emotional contagion is important to personal relationships because it fosters emotional synchrony between individuals. A broader definition of the phenomenon was suggested by Schoenewolf: "a process in which a person or group influences the emotions or behavior of another person or group through the conscious or unconscious induction of emotion states and behavioral attitudes".

Part 3:

Science and crisis have made
our world into a single turf, a
neighbourhood…our survival
depends on increasingly unific
tendencies in the cultural, & the
political domains. The scientific
method is humanity's tool for its
understanding of the physical side
of the universe. It is the key to new
technologies. Science cannot guide
us, however, in the moral domain…
& how we will use such knowledge.1

Will humanity find a basis for values
and purpose? Where will the answers
come to the many complex questions
of morals, human purpose, and our
relationships to each other. These are
areas that science cannot approach.1

1 "The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established" --Bahá'u'lláh

Ron Price