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In the 1990s, a South American city is rocked by the imminent outbreak of a plague. While many attempt to flee the city, Dr Bernard Rieux sends his sick wife away and does his best to care for the plague's victims. The plague means different things to different people: to the doctor, it's a disease to be cured. To a pair of French journalists, it's a breaking news story. To religious leaders, it's punishment for sins. As the sense of isolation and hopelessness grow, Dr Rieux and his associates begin to question their previously-accepted feelings of justice, loneliness, and love. Written by
Murray Chapman <email@example.com>
effective transcription of the novel. this movie should be a mandatory part of the high school curriculum.
imperfect only because mr. hurt takes his traum-welt sleepwalking characterization too far, and mr. puenzo drops the emotional anvil one time too many, this is nevertheless the most artistic political commentary i have seen. i compare it to CLOSETLAND. camus set the novel in his home of algiers, and mr. puenzo reprises with the buenos aires location that is his home. like post-war camus, mr. puenzo has much to say about his country's recently fallen dictatorship. camus would certainly have approved. the timing, in the face of the literal plague of aids, adds to the momentousness of this film.
sandrine bonnaire, robert duvall, and jean-marc barr are essential to the movie, and the sheer pulchritude of buenos aires shows, even though the city is cast as hapless, plague-stricken oran. it is the tragedy of argentina that makes it a perfect oran. and it is the beauty of its capital federal that makes it a perfect setting for camus' triumph of humanity over inhumanity.
the movie is complex, with explicit visual reference to the holocaust, and even a fair treatment of the complicity of the medical doctor (whose responsibility? remember, camus was above all an existentialist author). but the movie is not about a public health disaster, or oran, or the insanity and subsequent tragedy of civil resignation in germany's 1930's. oran could be anywhere at any time, and mr. puenzo has understood camus well on this point.
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