In 1860 Paris, chemist Louis Pasteur is considered a quack within the medical community for advocating that doctors and surgeons wash their hands and boil their instruments to destroy microbes that can kill their patients. He came across this belief when discovering microscopic organisms in sour wine, the organisms which could be killed if heated sufficiently. The belief among the scientific community at large is that the organisms are the result of disease and not the cause. This belief is despite the fact that thirty percent of women die in childbirth due to child bed disease, accounting for twenty thousand annual deaths in Paris alone. The debate takes Pasteur all the way to a meeting with Emperor Napoleon III and his physician, Dr. Charbonnet, who is one of the leading opponents of Pasteur. Several years later - France now a republic - much of Pasteur's reputation changes as a government sanctioned experiment with anthrax and sheep shows that a vaccine created by Pasteur proves ... Written by
Hal Wallis originally rejected Sheridan Gibney's script. Wallis wanted the movie to be a college romance. The star, Paul Muni, had script control in his contract, so the actor wrote across the top of the screenplay, "I approve this script as written." Warner Bros. had to film Gibney's original script, which went on to win an Oscar. From "Film Crazy" by Patrick McGilligan, St. Martin's Press, 1983; and "Actor: The Life & Times of Paul Muni" by Jerome Lawrence, 1974. See more »
In the movie Pasteur's daughter Annette marries Matel. In actual fact Pasteur did not have any daughter by the name of Annette, her name was Marie Louise Pasteur,and she married René Vallery-Radot. See more »
Dr. Louis Pasteur:
[speaking to the Emperor]
Sire, the hospitals of Paris are pesthouses. There's scarcely a doctor in the city who's not carrying death on his hands and instruments.
Because of microbes, Monsieur? Your private menagerie of invisible beasts?
Dr. Louis Pasteur:
Exactly. Doctor Charbonnet could see them for himself if he took the trouble to use his microscope. He could watch them multiply into murderous millions. They breed in filth. They may start from the gutters of Paris tonight and by tomorrow claim some mother ...
[...] See more »
What a pleasure to see a film so unabashedly idealistic! The film's emotional ending (a well-deserved and long-overdue tribute to Pasteur's work by his collegues) centers on a closing speech by Pasteur (Paul Muni) in which he explains, simply and with passion, that making a contribution to the wellbeing of mankind is the most important work of all.
Pasteur's discovery of the role of bacteria in spreading disease seems self-evident now, but he faced years of ridicule and isolation before his findings were accepted and played their part in transforming our world.
This film is a vaccine against the cynical, self-referential, "in it for me (and maybe my small circle of friends)" films of the recent decades. See it and feel good about being human.
20 of 22 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?