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Soderbergh's Contagion script reviewed

StevenSoderbergh.jpgSteven Soderbergh’s next film is Contagion, an ensemble film that looks at the spread of a virus across the globe and a group of international team of doctors and scientists trying to find a vaccine and halt the spread of the disease, and while we’ve heard a little from the film and the casting, there’s not been a lot of news about the story.

Now there’s a script review online that looks rather interesting, Scott Z. Burns wrote the script from and idea that he and Soderbergh came up with during the filming of The Informant, and it carries an interesting cast including Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Lawrence Fishburne, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

It is clearly noted on the script review, and it’s worth highlighting straight up, that this is a review of an early draft from back in January of last year. This is something that happens with a lot of script reviews, they aren’t the current script and a much older version leaks out.

There could be a number of reasons for that, two that seem the most logical is that it's either easier to get copies of the older script leaked, or that the studio can leak the script, gauge the interest and commentary, and if it's bad deflect it all by saying it's a very old version before many rewrites. I guess it's which way your glass is.

The script review for Contagion comes from ScriptShadow through Quiet Earth and sounds interesting enough, although the script does start off the normal way you'd expect one of these films to go, there are some interesting aspects to it.

To begin with people get sick and die, they seem isolated, but as doctors connect more and more cases there's a bigger effort to find patient zero and understand where the disease came from in order to find a cure.

Seems pretty standard stuff, but there are differences like the outside influence from a blogger that convinces the world through some amazing conspiracy theory and a lot of gullible people that the virus is in the water and this causes an escalating worldwide panic, or the involvement of big businesses who are trying to control the money making aspects of the vaccines.

However the major differences are in the structure of the script, and this is where the trouble lies apparently, the story is huge, it spans countries, characters, companies, social economic issues, many, many huge things, and within the time restraints of a film that means a number of things suffer, like the building of characters.

It seems that the biggest issue with it all is that there are just no characters to believe in, nobody to get emotionally connected to, no one to drive the story forward. Instead the story seems to take the risk of leaping across from story to story, character to character and country to country, seeing people disappear from the story and never to return without the usual cinematic arcs and endings.

While the scope of the story is the exciting aspect of it, it also seems to be why ScriptShadow didn't like it. However while it might not work on the page, I think it sounds very interesting for the big screen. Soderbergh has never been afraid to take risks and try something new and it sounds like he's doing that here, creating a film that doesn't follow the traditional character or story arcs.

Another bad aspect it seems is the ending, which I won't go into at all here. Suffice to say that they weren't impressed with the script.

Still, it is an early draft and the film has a big cast and Steven Soderbergh behind it. I'm still remaining very interested.



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