According to University of Hannover Professor Ruth Mayer (2007), biothrillers have long been an important pathway into the American “political unconscious,” as the diseases they depict often serve as “metaphors” for some of the nation’s greatest fears—terrorism, social disintegration, immigration. Beyond their metaphorical qualities, biothrillers, which are often based on real diseases, also expose Americans to the political, scientific, and social dynamics of public health preparedness and response efforts. Wolfgang Peterson’s 1995 film Outbreak, Richard Pierce’s 2006 film Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America, and Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 film Contagion are all struck from this creative mold, providing largely realistic portrayals of disease transmission, the preparedness cycle, government institutions, and, in some cases, the role of citizen participation in the procurement of public health services. The following viewer’s guide can be used in conjunction with these three films. Questions highlight themes associated with each film while encouraging viewers to compare and contrast Outbreak, Fatal Contact, and Contagion.
DeLeo, Robert A.
"BIOTHRILLER FILMS AND CITIZEN EMPOWERMENT: A VIEWER’S GUIDE TO OUTBREAK, CONTAGION, AND FATAL CONTACT,"
Catalyst: A Social Justice Forum: Vol. 4
, Article 5.
Available at: http://trace.tennessee.edu/catalyst/vol4/iss1/5