How to survive a pandemic?

Amid the ongoing global pandemic, here’s revisiting the end of the world flicks and what they teach us about surviving a catastrophe

A deadly virus takes the world in its grip. It’s contagious, and that’s what is keeping humans confined to their houses, because danger lurks everywhere; no one knows who is going to be its next victim. Chaos envelopes the world – with millions dying, hospitals flooding with patients, people losing jobs.

This, unfortunately, isn’t a film plot but the reality of the times we are living in at present.

Many times, the ongoing global pandemic has given us the feeling of an impending apocalypse. Though, the world might not be ending – but a life-altering crisis of this proportion makes us wonder what lies ahead.  And that’s when our survival instinct peaks, trying to navigate through these crazy times.

For decades, apocalyptic films have lured audiences to the cinemas. Though, it can be quite brutal at times – but definitely has its own charm. The adrenaline rushes these films evoke are what the adrenaline junkies love!

Now, when the world is going through a pandemic – one might want to take a note of the things that these films taught us – on how to survive a crisis. Some would want to revisit these films yet again for just this.

The most relatable of all seems to be Netflix’s Contagion (2011). This film is decade old but has become the talk of the town since last year owing to its eerie relatability with the present times. The story revolves around the spread of a deadly virus, and how the whole world battles to survive amid the crisis. Well, need we say more?

In 2019, the HBO mini-series Chernobyl (available on Hotstar) created waves. It depicted one of the worst nuclear disasters in history that took place in 1986 – in Chernobyl, a city in the Soviet Union. The way the show depicted a crisis of such magnitude – from the storytelling, to capturing the emotions of the victims and those whose life were affected by it – everything was pitch-perfect.

In Perfect Sense (2011), a viral epidemic causes people to lose their sensory perceptions. And amid the crisis, the story focuses on the love that blossoms between a chef and a scientist.

These shows or films, where the “villain” of “danger” appears as a result of a manmade disaster or virus – shows how these people fight against it, to further prevent it from growing or if not, then cope with the consequences. The battle is more of a subtle kind, and not the ones where one needs to head out with a shooting gun or dagger – like in zombie films.

Zombie apocalypse films are the most common, yet the most watched of all. The reason could probably be its high on adrenaline rush factor! For instance, Train to Busan depicts how a group of passengers aboard a train fight a zombie apocalypse.

A still from Train to Busan

In Brad Pitt starrer World War Z (2013), the protagonist races against time as he investigates a threatening virus that transforms humans into zombies. Unlike in the previously mentioned films or series, the zombie movies have one clear rule the survivors abide by: Kill or get killed!

More often, there are creatures on the loose that spirals off a catastrophe. In A Quiet Place-I (2018), one needs to stay mum, as the deadly creatures are blind and can only trace the presence of a being through sounds. On the contrary, in Bird Box (2018) it’s the vision that is the medium to invite danger.

At times, it’s not a virus or a zombie – but nature, that is the source of a catastrophe. Given how our world has been altered owing to global warming, an impending climate change crisis becomes the plot of certain apocalypse movies. In The Day After Tomorrow (2004), a sudden worldwide storm begins to plunge the entire planet into a new ice age.

Similarly, in the film 2012 (released in 2019), a series of apocalyptic calamities threaten to wash away humankind. The movie was based on a Mayan prophecy which said that the world will end in 2012. After what this year has been witnessing, many naysayers have been stating that the prophecy had probably got the year wrong – it had reversed the last two digits of 2012, and it will be 2021! But that’s a random thought someone shared on social media.

If something that all these apocalyptic films have in common, is how these people or the protagonists battled it out to survive. Some stories even brought out how people helped each other amid these crises. Thus, one must not view them as just the end of the world flicks, rather…as stories of survivals, and of hope. Similarly, like the ending or climax of a film, hopefully  we all can fight the antagonist too (which in our case is a virus) and emerge victorious!

(Cover: A still from the film Perfect Sense)



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