Scenes From Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion – Big Screen Report

Posted by August 13, 2011 Comment

A complete sequence from Steven Soderbergh‘s Contagion has just been premiered at Big Screen and, not to beat about the bush, was tremendous.

The first scene was mainly comprised of a single unbroken shot of Gwyneth Paltrow‘s character taking a cellphone call in an airport waiting lounge. She’s looking a little sweaty and at one point coughs, so she’s obviously carrying the virus. The scene began with a Day 2 caption on screen.

The content of her call was the first key point: she was chatting with a man she’d just met up with and had sex with in a hotel. He was being played, at least in this version, by the voice of Soderbergh himself. I’d imagine another actor’s voice will have been looped in by the time I see this footage again, but it would be an amusing place to put a director’s cameo.

At the end of her conversation we saw her spatial context a bit better, and the key addition was the little dish of bar nuts she’s been touching…

As the footage went on, we went around the world, seeing scenes in various cities, each introduced with a superimposed title and a population count. It was all very brisk, slick, fast paced storytelling and because of the context, every single moment of contact – every button pressed, every rail gripped – took on dramatic import. And a two shot was no longer just a two shot, it was a moment of contagion.

In each of these international scenes, we meet a different sick character, and those they are making sick in turn. Some we returned to, some we didn’t. For example, we saw Gwyneth Paltrow arriving home in Minneapolis to her husband, played to Matt Damon.

One character dies in a hotel, flat out on the bathroom floor. Another is shown stumbling through streets and it’s his blurry-vision POV inserts that rang the only bum note in the entire run of footage.

I’m pretty sure that Soderbergh has take Scott Z. Burns’ already compelling and intriguing script and turned it into a fast, muscular, powerful drama with an abundant quotient of thrill-movie crowd pleasing too. Can’t wait to see the whole thing.

This footage was easily the highpoint of Big Screen so far for me.

(Last Updated August 13, 2011 7:18 am )