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Hospital (1970)

TV Movie  -   -  Documentary  -  2 February 1970 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 179 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 2 critic

Daily activities of the Metropolitan Hospital in New York City, with emphasis on the emergency ward and outpatient clinics. The cases depicted illustrate how medical expertise, availability... See full summary »

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Title: Hospital (TV Movie 1970)

Hospital (TV Movie 1970) on IMDb 7.5/10

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Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 win. See more awards »
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Cast

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Eugene Friedman ...
Himself (as Eugene Friedman M.D.)
Stanley Friedman ...
Himself (as Stanley Friedman M.D.)
Robert Schwartz ...
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Daily activities of the Metropolitan Hospital in New York City, with emphasis on the emergency ward and outpatient clinics. The cases depicted illustrate how medical expertise, availability of resources, organizational considerations and the nature of communication among the staff and patients affect the delivery of health care. Written by Anonymous

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2 February 1970 (USA)  »

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Nosokomeio  »

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User Reviews

 
The ordinary becomes the extraordinary
11 September 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Hospital is the third Frederick Wiseman picture I've seen, as I slowly but surely peruse through his unbelievably checkered and well-rounded filmography. His first film I saw - his controversial debut documentary Titicut Follies, which focused on the poor treatment in an insane asylum in Massachusetts in the 1960's - is required viewing to say the least, in its deeply disturbing, eighty-four minute glory. The second film I saw by him was Belfast, Maine, a somewhat somber but beautifully detailed portrait of a quiet Maine town built up of a largely older population with a conservative, old-fashioned work ethic.

I emerge from his film Hospital with great news once more. Wiseman carefully documents the daily occurrences inside the Metropolitan Hospital in New York City using his trademark "let-the-events-do-the-talking" way of documentation. I hesitate to use the term "observational" as I did in my reviews of his two other films because Wiseman has stated again and again that unbiased, objective filmmaking is impossible. I've come to agree. The director of the film chooses what to show, what not to show, what to include in the film, how to edit it, and so forth. You decide on everything, from a narrative and a thesis, to a message and maybe a piece of social commentary. That is biased filmmaking; there's nothing else refuting it. However, one can't blame mistaking Wiseman for seeming like an objective filmmaker. His style of filmmaking is not intrusive at all and his documentation of an institution, an event, or a specific place isn't burdened by title-cards, descriptions, or personal input. He turns the camera on and let's it roll; I'm not sure I could remain silent during my own film.

And so Wiseman zealously films the Metropolitan Hospital, its waiting rooms, operating rooms, outpatient procedures, surgical rooms, front desks, its patients, those already admitted, and so forth. Some patients we get to hear speak directly to the camera and others we examine for a lengthy period of time. The most unforgettable is probably a young man who has ingested far too many pills that have could possibly justify his jittery, nervous behavior and his constant neurotic attitude that he may die. He talks to the doctor, often repeating, "am I gonna die," to which the doctor is calm and very assuring. The doctor gives him some liquid that makes him vomit up the pills before sending him to psychological therapy, as he is clearly unstable, even before he took the pills.

Some scenes involve the doctors talking over medical procedures or deciding how to treat a specific case. One of them isn't a medical one at all, but a kid who is brought in who is found with no adult supervision whatsoever. Several doctors converse, trying to decide whether to keep him there for a while or send him over to the child services. This shows unconventional decisions that don't come with a rulebook occur with doctors every day. Many of us know this, but I doubt we've thought very hard about it. This is where the concept of personal ethics come into play in a very serious job setting. Wiseman captures the anxiety and the uncertainty beautifully.

I feel I could talk about a Wiseman film forever, but I purposefully try to keep them concise and vague, so you, the potential viewer, lacks a biased mindset when entering a film like this. Hospital is a documentary that shows that there are extremely interesting and significant things to see and show all around us, but they go unnoticed because the public demands a more extravagant, gossipy story. Wiseman scales back and allows the ordinary to morph into the extraordinary.

Directed by: Frederick Wiseman.


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