Between 1918 and 1920, the Spanish flu killed tens of millions of people around the world, infecting about 500 million out of a population of 2 billion. There were 50 million deaths from that pandemic, but the exact figure fluctuates enormously depending on the sources. Among the most famous infected survivors of the virus are Walt Disney, Edvard Munch and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but for instance Guillaume Apollinaire, Egon Schiele and his wife Edith died.
Yet, from an artistic point of view, there is no trace of that global scourge: cinema and literature have never told the subject and the survivors have not even talked about it with their children and grandchildren, as if it were something shameful to bury in the sand. In short, there was a form of total repression, a selective loss of memory to erase an unexpected trauma. Exactly 100 years later, Covid-19 came to disrupt our lives and this time things went differently.
Since the early days of the lockdown, the artists have told what we were experiencing in many ways, creating a precious emotional archive of our time and an invaluable heritage for subsequent generations. Just by facing the problem, taking note of the risks and protecting ourselves we will pass this test, coming out different and even more mature.
If even La voix humaine, thanks to Tilda Swinton, becomes a metaphor for the lockdown, we are certain that this time we will not forget and that cinema will save us, against who, without any ethics, still dare to minimize the risks for sinister as well as shortsighted personal interests.