When this is all done and we return to something familiar enough to feel normal, a thousand budding screenwriters will get to work writing pandemic stories.
We’ve had those in the past of course. Movies about pandemics don’t come along that often, but when they do, they’ve tended to follow a familiar path. Society will have collapsed or be nearing collapse. A lone figure – maybe two – struggles against the odds. They follow the grand Hollywood tradition of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in extraordinary times.
They can’t write those stories now. Not when we’ve all experienced a pandemic ourselves. This time around we – every single one of us – were the ordinary people. Some of us did extraordinary things – and we thank every key worker for them – but in the main, we kept as calm as we could and carried on.
The human cost has been high too, but the heroics happened in hospital wards and emergency rooms, not bleak photogenic landscapes.
It wasn’t anything like they said it would be in the movies. And we all know it.
So, what will those screenwriters write now? Expect a lot of how we won the pandemic movies, but expect single-room romcoms and remakes of the Odd Couple too – there is little more heart-warming than incompatible people discovering hidden compatibilities in stressful situations. Those may even prove to be the enduring stories of the pandemic – there’s more drama in social tension than in social distancing.
But will they tell the story that needs to be told – because the true story of this pandemic is not lone survivors winning though. But of how we collectively adapted for our common good. Humankind faced an existential threat, and it didn’t fall apart. It pulled together.
You could see that on the street where all but a few willingly wore masks, and you could see it in our industry where, even though some doubted the movie business or the events industry could survive, it has – and can prosper too. That prosperity will come the same way the pandemic was survived, by companies like Christie playing their part – competing certainly – but cooperating too. Valuing long-term aims that benefit us all over short-term gains.
A truly epic effort
Christie’s pandemic response includes new CounterAct commercial UV disinfection products designed to neutralize pathogens with people present that use parent company Ushio Inc.’s patented Care222 far-UVC technology. It’s just one aspect of an industry-wide effort—from film festivals and trade shows that moved online and drive-ins that opened to exhibitors who kept their equipment in shape for re-opening—that adds up to the word epic.
So maybe the definitive story of this pandemic won’t be told on cinema screens (though we sincerely hope it is and draws vast audiences). Perhaps instead, it is written in the actions of individuals – odd couples all – who did what they could when times were tough. Because in the end, we need that more than we need celluloid heroes. Even if we are in the movie business.