Film Review: Contagion
BLS’s Health Law and Policy Association (HLPA) took a trip to the movies on Monday, September 19th to see the new box office hit, Contagion. The group’s Executive Board thought it would be a good kick-off activity after the first General Body Meeting earlier that day and from the members that attended, the consensus is that it certainly was.
The cast alone could gather a packed crowd, but after watching just minutes of the film you instantly think about where your hands have just been and who is breathing too close to you.
The film follows one American woman’s return from Hong Kong and the rapid spread of a highly contagious and fatal disease across the United States and the globe. As the disease spreads, it mutates and the search for a vaccine becomes crucial. From conspiracy theories about pharmaceutical companies’ stake in the spread of the disease to the logistics of discovering, manufacturing, and distributing a vaccine worldwide, the film’s plot does not come across as far fetched in our own global economy. Where travelers can jump continents in hours and grocery stores stock food from faraway countries, the idea that such a devastating disease could hit all corners of the world and quickly seems quite plausible. Perhaps most fear inducing is the speed and access to the Internet where rumors spread quickly and do more potential harm than the actual disease.
The film hits on a number of legal issues for debate including the federal government’s role and its interaction with state health departments during a national healthcare emergency. Additionally, the intersection of domestic and global efforts to combat the spread of the disease is apparent with the relationship between the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. There is even a good First Amendment issue as the government tries to reign in a blogger that looks to be blurring free speech lines.
Overall, the movie gets a “thumbs up” from HLPA. Just after the showing, we had a quick discussion about our thoughts: mainly kudos for the plot and questions posed about whether the government can force you to take a vaccine, refuse to give you one if already sick, etc. There were also a few comments about the length of the film, suggesting it could have ended about thirty minutes sooner. It’s tough to tell if that is a fair criticism or if it is just the inevitable feeling of law students out on a school night. It should be shared nonetheless!
The event was a successful one and we hope this is just the first of many successful events this year. We are excited by the turnout of new and old members and looking forward to more Brooklyn HLPA events to come!
For inquiries about HLPA, please contact HLPA Secretary Nicole Fitzpatrick at firstname.lastname@example.org