This is the story of the first years of the AIDS epidemic in the United States and focuses on three key elements. Dr. Don Francis, an immunologist with experience in eradicating smallpox and containing the Ebola virus, joins the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to try and understand just what this disease is. They also have deal with bureaucracy and a government that doesn't seem to care. The gay community in San Francisco is divided on the nature of the disease but also what should be done about it. Finally, the film deals with the rivalry between Dr. Robert Gallo, the American virologist who previously discovered the first retrovirus and his French counterpart at the Pasteur Institute, Dr. Luc Montagnier, that led to disputed claims about who was first to identify the AIDS virus. Written by
The scene where Jim Curran inquires Don Francis about what's the butcher's bill mark on the board (the death toll revolving AIDS cases) in reality was something that in reality was an idea conceived by Selma Dritz, the character played by Lily Tomlin, as mentioned in Randy Shilts book. See more »
If you don't remember the start of the epidemic, don't comment on the movie....
I've read far too many reviews of this movie that just don't seem to get it, even if they did enjoy the film. The purpose of the movie was precisely to show how the AIDS epidemics reached the stages that it did before anything was done, and how the Doctors, researchers and even the federal government and the CDC contributed as much to the progression of the disease as they did to discovering it. To state that this presentation, while not quite showing as much regarding the suffering of the early AIDS patients in some way makes "less of an impact" than it may have otherwise, is to basically state that you have no concept of what the purpose of the movie was! Anyone who actually WAS around when the AIDS crisis began can remember getting blood tests for Hepatitis, then something called HTLV III, then HIV, all with no explanation or understanding as to why. And that was only if you were giving blood! They misconceptions and fears passed on from scientists themselves made it far more difficult to actually understand what it was and how to be safe. This movie explained far better than any other resource exactly what was going on during a time when those of us who WERE alive were getting no answers at all.
So, if you're going to comment on a movie, make sure you have some idea of what the purpose of the film is before questioning the point of view of the film. This is quite possibly one of the most important films of the past twenty years BECAUSE of its point of view.
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