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
A newspaper is shown announcing that the government (of France) is appropriating grazing land. The text surrounding the featured item mentions dollars and the Bronx, indicating the text was likely taken from a US newspaper. See more »
[addressing The Academy of Medicine - directing his remarks to the young men in the balcony]
Dr. Louis Pasteur:
You young men - doctors and scientists of the future - do not let yourselves be tainted by apparent skepticism; nor discouraged by the sadness of certain hours that creep over nations. Do not become angry at your opponents, for no scientific theory has ever been accepted without opposition. Live in the serene peace of libraries and laboratories. Say to yourselves, first, "What have I done for...
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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.
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