The English Surgeon (2009)
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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.
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.
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.
[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.
Henry Marsh is a British brain surgeon whose humanity and talent with power drills make him an uncommonly enthralling linchpin.
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.
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.
I saw this film during the DC FilmFest. It is so interesting, so sad, but so hopeful. It makes me happy to see that there are still good people like Dr. Marsh out there.
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