‘Outbreak’ demands the world’s attention

Pandemic film addresses coronavirus ignorance


Autumn Williams

An original graphic demonstrating what pandemics like the coronavirus and Motaba virus lead to.

The coronavirus pandemic swept many Americans off their feet and into grocery stores to stock up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer. It appears that baby boomers and millennials did not get the memo, however, as they continue to live in ignorant bliss of the chaotic world around them. Wolfgang Peterson’s 1995 film “Outbreak” not only calls attention to the horrible reality of disease, but it also delivers an effective message regarding societal ignorance to pandemics.

The film follows a team of virologists as they attempt to create an antiserum for citizens infected by the fatal and fictional Motaba virus. As the virus spreads, the federal government intervenes, although not in a way that the virologists expected.

Although the film focuses on a fictional virus, it perfectly captures the horrors and emotional trauma associated with deadly diseases. The movie portrays Motaba as a form of hemorrhagic fever with symptoms like pus-filled sores, bloody eyes, and seizures. After succumbing to the disease, several of the main characters deliver tear-jerking goodbyes, further tugging on viewers’ heartstrings. The gory visuals and heartfelt monologues of the infected patients were difficult to watch, but they revealed the true extent of the terrifying relationship between disease and suffering.

“Outbreak” also conveys an impactful message about an issue that plagues society today: ignorance. Much like the millennials of today’s pandemic who book $25 flights to Maui, several families attempt to break quarantine and leave Cedar Creek throughout the course of the film. These families would rather risk the lives of people in surrounding towns than abide by a government-mandated quarantine, implemented to ensure their safety. Scenes like this drive the powerful point that society needs to stop acting individualistically in times of national emergency.

The coronavirus may not be Motaba, but society ought to take it more seriously. If “Outbreak” teaches viewers anything, it is that individuals should band together during pandemics, not spend time pursuing individualistic dreams like traveling the world or competing in golf tournaments.