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The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936) - Plot Summary Poster

Plot Summary

  • 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 effective. As Pasteur begins work on finding the cause and a cure for rabies, which proves a more difficult challenge, he still has his detractors, including Dr. Charbonnet. This continuing debate brings about his biggest challenge: proving that microbes are the cause of all disease. Through it all, he is supported not only by his family, but Dr. Jean Martel, who was once a junior physician in the emperor's court and a physician within the republic's government, but who now works with Pasteur and is his son-in-law. But an act of bravado by Charbonnet may ultimately prove to be the breakthrough for which Pasteur is looking. Moving the experimental treatments from animals to humans proves a bigger obstacle, as is Charbonnet's need to win at all cost in the court of public opinion.

    - Written by Huggo
  • Hollywood version of famous scientist Louis Pasteur and his work with microbes and their role in disease. Few in the medical community believed Pasteur's theories in this area and after an encounter with the Emperor, leaves Paris. Some years later, officials in Paris hear that there is no anthrax in the area of Arbois. They soon learn that Pasteur is living in there and has in fact developed a vaccine. Skeptics abound but a real-life test proves that his vaccine works. He next sets out to find find the microbe responsible for rabies which proves to be quite elusive. Through a fluke he and his assistant discover that a weakened dose of rabies helps the human immune system create its own antibodies. The approach is far from fully developed but he agrees to treat a young boy who was attacked by a mad dog. The treatment was a great success and further experiments lead to a cure.

    - Written by garykmcd
  • In 1860, having helped France solve the problem of sour wine, chemist Louis Pasteur turns to the dangers of childbirth: 20,000 Paris women were dying annually. His germ theory and recommendation that doctors wash their hands and sterilize their instruments meet with derision in the academy, and the emperor himself orders Pasteur to be silent. Ten years later, needing cash to pay for war losses, the government finds that anthrax is killing herds everywhere in the country except Arbois: Pasteur is there, vaccinating sheep. Again the academy is dismissive. When Pasteur is vindicated, he turns his attention to hydrophobia. It is the Russians who realize his genius, and France finally honors him.

    - Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>
  • The biography of the pioneering French microbiologist who helped revolutionize agriculture and medicine.

    - Written by Kenneth Chisholm

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