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The English Surgeon (2009)



Average Rating: 7.1/10
Critic Reviews: 12
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 2

No consensus yet.



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Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 3,584

My Rating

Movie Info

"The English Surgeon" is the true-life tale of Henry Marsh, a London neurosurgeon who travels to Ukraine to treat desperate patients with no access to modern medical facilities. Marsh is one of London's foremost brain surgeons, a phlegmatic, philosophical man with no illusions about the nature of his work. On a trip to Kiev to give a lecture in 1992, Marsh was shocked to witness the plight of those with severe neurological problems there -- a ghastly world of primitive clinics, Kafkaesque

Nov 3, 2009

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All Critics (19) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (16) | Rotten (2)

Some will feel privileged to see human drama and an aspect of life not often seen on the movie screen. Others will feel haunted by it and wish they never saw it. For sure, few will leave the film unaffected.

August 14, 2009 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
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Like Marsh, the filmmaker has taken a sort of triage approach to telling the tale, with near-perfect pacing as he moves between Marsh, the patients, and Marsh's wonderful Ukrainian colleague, neurosurgeon Igor Kurilets.

July 31, 2009 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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[A] superb documentary.

July 27, 2009 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
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Why see such a difficult film? For the same reason Smith made it: There is great beauty in watching one heroic soul insist that he can improve upon a cruel and complex world.

July 24, 2009 Full Review Source: New York Daily News
New York Daily News
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[Director] Smith seems intent on turning Marsh into a folk hero. That's fine, I suppose, although it would have been informative to take a closer look at Ukraine's medical nightmare -- its causes and its prognosis.

July 24, 2009 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
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Henry Marsh is a British brain surgeon whose humanity and talent with power drills make him an uncommonly enthralling linchpin.

July 24, 2009 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A provocative, taut and compelling documentary that's concurrently disturbing and profoundly moving.

July 25, 2009 Full Review Source: NYC Movie Guru
NYC Movie Guru

As with Marsh, the state of Ukrainian medicine, and his topic's underlying issues of morality and mercy, director Smith merely presents them in all their heartrending complexity.

July 19, 2009 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Good to know that there are still doctors around who do not spend all their waking hours thinking of $$$. (OK, maybe only in England, but that's a start.)

June 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Compuserve

An edge-of-your seat documentary from Geoffrey Smith about a British physician who has done pro bono work in Ukraine for 15 years.

June 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

This multi-award winning doco is a riveting insight into something that goes on every day within reach of us all, but out of sight and mind.

January 14, 2009 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Audience Reviews for The English Surgeon

While doctors don't make house calls anymore, Dr. James Marsh, a neurosurgeon, travels to the Ukraine to see patients in "The English Surgeon," a documentary that is more emotional than informative.(Admittedly, I now know more about brain surgery than I really wanted to know.) In focusing on a single patient who has to travel 400 kilometers to Kiev to see Dr. Marsh about his brain tumor that has been causing epileptic seizures, the movie seeks to shed light on the dreadful state of healthcare in the former Soviet republic. Marsh who has been going there since 1992 is told that his contributions are only a drop in the bucket but it soon becomes clear that relatively minor improvements can do wonders, especially concerning early detection, as he donates any old equipment which is not nailed down. Even while providing hope, he still agonizes over an old case involving a child. At the same time, he admits neurosurgery is tricky in trying to figure out when exactly to operate.
March 25, 2011
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

As real as it gets. Henry Marsh visits the Ukraine and discovers that they could use his area of expertise. That commences frequent journies to treat the worst of the worst brain conditions. A heart braking example of how arbitrary bad fortune is.
April 4, 2010
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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