Paris 1810. Breton doctor René Laennec fights tooth and nail against consumption, all the more desperately as his brother Michaud has just died of it. He is supported in his research work ... See full summary »
Paris 1810. Breton doctor René Laennec fights tooth and nail against consumption, all the more desperately as his brother Michaud has just died of it. He is supported in his research work by his senior partner and friend, Doctor Bayle, but this one dies before they are able to diagnose and defeat the "enemy". One day, after observing a children's toy, Laennec discovers the principle of the transmission of sound through wood and applies it to a major medical instrument of his invention, the stethoscope. On the other hand, he wins a first victory over consumption by saving Jacquemine, a childhood friend, who soon becomes his wife. Nevertheless Laennec is the laughing stock of many a fellow-colleague, especially famed Doctor Broussais. But , remaining undeterred, Laennec goes on with his research. He works hard, too hard, until he too gets struck by the "enemy". Written by
A film worth catching... much more than lung disease!
Most medical bio-pics I have seen tend to focus on the banal scientific aspects which usually don't lend themselves to engaging film or theatre. This picture focuses mostly on Dr.Laennec as an inwardly passionate but outwardly detached person. The inventor of the all-important stethoscope is followed from his early medical career to the end of his life. Since his biggest efforts were battling against a veritable plague of tuberculosis, much of the film is steeped in dusty, phlegm producing, agonising death. Don't expect a bright uplifting picture but do expect a fascinating character study of a man driven hard to find a cure to a deadly disease. I noticed that the lighting and camera work were particularly striking for a medical bio-pic and was not surprised to later find out that it was lensed by master cinematographer Claude Renoir, relative of the great Jean Renoir. Lighting in this film was very similar to his CRIME AND PUNISHMENT. One impressive scene involves a slow deliberate tracking shot into the chest area of a marble Christ figure on a large crucifix as Dr.Laennec contemplates the source of horrific lung disease.
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