Let me start by addressing the elephant in the room一the pandemic. First, I’ll add some context. I am writing this on March 19, 2019, from my home in the United States (specifically Pennsylvania), where I have been since my college, Penn State Behrend closed its doors for the rest of my semester due to concerns about the spread of a virus known as COVID-19. COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. This virus has disrupted the lives of citizens in every country and every continent, leading to, in the most extreme cases in countries like Italy, a nationwide quarantine, and worldwide disruption.
Before I begin my review, I’d like to make one thing clear: this blog post will be considerate and conscious of these trying times, but this is NOT the place to obtain facts and medical information about COVID-19. Rather, I would like to offer a topical commentary on a topical documentary as a means of distraction and entertainment一for both myself and my readers. For legitimate information on the current pandemic visit the World Health Organization or (if you reside in the US) the Center for Disease Control’s websites. I can assure you they will be significantly more helpful and informed than myself. Now, on to the review!
Pandemic follows a series of scientists, researchers, and health officials (give or take an average civilian) and their preparation for the next big pandemic. (The word ‘pandemic’ describes a disease with worldwide spread and significance, while the more commonly known word ‘epidemic’ describes a more concentrated disease.) To be entirely honest, I watched Pandemic weeks before I found myself self-quarantining due to a virus outbreak (but the alternative made a much better title). Although I should note that the Coronavirus was in its infancy around the time I watched Pandemic, and the timing of its release was undoubtedly eerie and morbidly ironic.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching this release. It strikes a nice balance between storytelling and information sharing. It manages to personify and humanize the people on the front lines of disease care and prevention; as much as it covers the realities and intricacies of a pandemic, it’s a story about people and human connection. Any widespread contagion is inherently about people. How they interact in times of crisis, who spreads it, who steps up to combat it, and all the people lost along the way. I found these realities to be the common theme of this story. The general impulse of the professionals fighting against the next (now current) pandemic is the desire to help people. It’s why they work a stressful job with strenuous hours. Because they recognize the gravity and importance of their work一and we should too.
Looking back on my experience watching this documentary gives me an odd sense of calm. It’s comforting to know that there are qualified and dedicated individuals that have been preparing their entire careers for this exact moment. And even though the reality of the current state of the world is utterly terrifying, this documentary proves that we couldn’t be in better hands. So, stay home, wash your hands (for AT LEAST 20 seconds), and take a deep breath, because we’ll get through this if we stick together. Metaphorically, not literally. Health officials recommend avoiding crowds.