Contagion’s film-closing montage of the progress of a virus from bat to pig to Gwyneth Paltrow is one of those please-teach-me-in-101 moments, but I’d probably go with a different montage if I were to teach the film. Steven Soderberg and Stephen Mirrione’s global supply chain sequence compresses time and space by honing in on shipping containers,

Contagion global supply chain

and since to live in Christchurch is to know shipping containers quite intimately, I’d probably use the shipping container bit to talk up montage (this is next to Alice’s):


Tom Conley’s Cartographic Cinema pays close attention to maps that appear on screen, and the maps in Contagion create a set of boundaries not unlike the world represented in this Risk advert that obscures New Zealand completely and leaves about twenty percent of Australia peeking out:


Adding to the work of the montages in establishing a globalized world, maps fill the edges of Contagion’s mise en scene with reminders that the danger is expanding to every corner. Contagion bases a fair amount of its scariness on the way in which the virus hits the developed world – and its hypermobility – so hard. But that’s not to say that the virus spreads over the entire globe.

Contagion map outbreak 1

Contagion outbreak 5

Contagion outbreak 4

Contagion map outbreak 2

Contagion map outbreak 3

In all of the outbreak map appearances, New Zealand doesn’t even appear, protected by oceans, distance, and a tendency to forget that almost five million of us live down here. However, I see a large swath of red covers southeast Australia. Who’s the lucky country now?