I don’t have a lot of things to say about this movie. There are lots of different critiques being deployed in the film–capitalism, certainly, as well as the eating of meat, community, and geopolitics.
But what I want to talk about is affect. More specifically, the soundtrack is doing some beautiful stuff. It drives the viewer along–there are long swaths of the film where there is no dialogue, or little discernible dialogue, that are guided by sound alone. A driving, multiplying spectrum of sound comes along to interrupt, to push the viewer into the diegetic world of the film.
The soundtrack brings us closer to plague. It brings us closer to the horror of it, and more than that, it makes it more palatable. The music of Contagion is driving and makes us understand the order of things–the deaths, the cycles of cure, the riots, it’s all a part of this driving forward, mimicked by both the virus itself and the industries that can profit from its death.
And so there’s a moment of affect transmission there. It pulls us in, and when a character dies, knows she is dying, we can feel that. We’re swept up in the same process that she is–a quick and slow boom boom boom that pulls and pushes us along.
The soundtrack to Contagion helps us imagine our finitude through music, and it’s terrifying.