A sense of the alien in films pre-Covid19

contagionIts really strange watching films of late. There are scenes with crowds and people getting together, even times when  -horror!- someone shakes someone else’s hand in greeting or hugs somebody. Such casual wanton misbehaviour! Whenever this happens I get this weird feeling that something is terribly wrong and alien about it.

We’ve only had a few weeks of this lockdown/social isolation thing going on, and its pretty horrible not being able to visit friends or family properly and, er, touch people like we used to. But the strange thing, even almost insidious thing about it, really, is how it now looks so weird seeing the old ‘normal’ way of living in films and being almost shocked by seeing it. Its a little like seeing pre-2000 films in which people smoke a lot; the further back in time when the film was made, the more prevalent and ‘social’ it is – go back to a film made in the and 1950s and people tend to smoke endlessly in the oddest places (in retrospect) and its so inclusive and social as the people progressively damage each others health and encourage each other to work harder at it. Thinking its fun, that its… sexy.  The old being ‘human’ becomes something decidedly alien.

That’s happening now, as if things actually changed overnight. I’m living in a world in which chat shows on television have ‘virtual’ interviews via webcam or game shows have panellists playing from home (Have I Got News For You is such a bizarre experience just now its almost like watching a Japanese game show). Even on Breakfast television presenters are either doing so remotely from home or sitting in the studio several feet apart, and yet in movies, naturally, things are from a different time, like, from a month ago or something, and obviously very different- its just so weird how it feels watching it. I have to exercise additional suspension of disbelief to just accept such ridiculous scenarios lacking social distancing or enhanced cleanliness. The world has gone crazy and its left all our movies feeling just that little bit odder and unreal.

Mind you, the other night I noticed Netflix have got Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion available, a film I haven’t seen since I first saw it back in 2011 on a rental and like some damn fool who hasn’t had enough fear from watching the news, I watched the first half of it. How horribly prescient that film is proving to be, and suddenly it looks like the most normal film I’m watching now. Seeing people wearing masks, gloves and PPE and trying to manage containment and isolation procedures is like, everyday stuff now. No longer as alien as it seemed back in 2011, its now, er, so normal.

We need life to go back to weird, like those other movies, as soon as safely possible.

One thought on “A sense of the alien in films pre-Covid19

  1. I really enjoyed reading your article, I’ve been thinking the same things when watching films and TV shows. The worst thing is when a character goes into a bar or restaurant, it seems like such a long time ago that I went out, I miss it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s