A young doctor at a hospital, Susan Wheeler (played by Geneviève Bujold), starts noticing a pattern of strange occurrences with patients. Healthy patients are suddenly developing complications and ending up in comas. She starts investigating and what she reveals is astonishing. Written by
Producer Martin Erlichman first read the film's source novel when it was in galley form. Erlichman once said that for this movie he wanted to do for hospitals what Jaws (1975) had done to people with the ocean and sharks. He said: "People have a primal fear of the ocean and Jaws titillated that phobia. In a similar manner, Coma (1978) accents one's primal fears of hospitals. This is an even stronger phobia because a person can always refrain from going into the water, but cannot always avoid the necessity of going into hospital!". See more »
When Dr. Bellows and Dr. Wheeler are on the beach, during the kissing scene, the sand on Michael Douglas' cheek disappears and reappears between shots. See more »
Dr. Susan Wheeler:
You did it.
[Put people in irreversible comas]
Dr. George A. Harris:
No decision is easy, Sue. It only looks that way when you're young. When you're older, everything is complicated. There is no black and white, only gray.
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Fine medical thriller; good work by Bujold and Widmark
In COMA, petite heroine Genevieve Bujold shows you don't have to be an amazon like Sigourney Weaver or Lucy Lawless to get physical with the bad guys. Set against a hospital backdrop ranking in verisimilitude with that of THE HOSPITAL (the only other accurate medical drama of the 1970's), this is a gripping thriller even on repeat viewing over twenty years later. Bujold's acting has been mentioned by other reviewers, but I would award special accolades to Richard Widmark, whose character's unctuous avuncularity is executed with superb subtlety. Plus, he even comports himself just like a real physician of seniority.
I do have a few complaints, not least of which is the gratuitous and grossly inaccurate portrayal of clinical lab personnel and the laboratory environment. Shame on Crichton, who must have missed out on visiting the lab through his entire tenure as a medical student. The laserdisc transfer is technically one of the worst I have in my collection. The monaural soundtrack is overdriven and distorted; the colors are washed out; and careless unmasking of the print (COMA is not letterboxed) results in visible boom mikes in several shots.
Still, this is a classic film, and anyone who wants to get up to speed on medical movies wouldn't want to exclude COMA.
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