This feature-length documentary, based on Michael Bliss’s 1991 book Plague: A Story of Smallpox in Montreal, juxtaposes a hypothetical 21st century pandemic with the 1885 smallpox epidemic that claimed over 2,500 lives in Montreal. A string of fatal errors and mishaps, including a tainted batch of vaccines, fostered panic and mistrust in a city already divided by language, religion and class. Outbreak: Anatomy of a Plague addresses renewed fears of bio-warfare and consults contemporary public health experts about the potential implications of a modern pandemic, including social unrest and economic ruin.
Pandemics have killed more people throughout history than all wars combined. They are unpredictable—and inevitable. Are we ready for the next big one?