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Bringing Out the Dead (1999)

6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 49,049 users   Metascore: 70/100
Reviews: 381 user | 168 critic | 34 from Metacritic.com

Haunted by the patients he failed to save, an extremely burned-out Manhattan ambulance paramedic fights to maintain his sanity over three fraught and turbulent nights.

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(novel), (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Nurse Constance
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Cy Coates
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Dr. Hazmat
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Nurse Crupp
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Kanita
Cynthia Roman ...
Rose
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Griss
Cullen O. Johnson ...
Mr. Burke (as Cullen Oliver Johnson)
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Captain Barney (as Arthur Nascarella)
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Storyline

An Easter story. Frank is a Manhattan medic, working graveyard in a two-man ambulance team. He's burned out, exhausted, seeing ghosts, especially a young woman he failed to save six months' before, and no longer able to save people: he brings in the dead. We follow him for three nights, each with a different partner: Larry, who thinks about dinner, Marcus, who looks to Jesus, and Tom, who wallops people when work is slow. Frank befriends the daughter of a heart victim he brings in; she's Mary, an ex-junkie, angry at her father but now hoping he'll live. Frank tries to get fired, tries to quit, and keeps coming back, to work and to Mary, in need of his own rebirth. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

From the Director of Taxi Driver See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for gritty violent content, drug use and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

22 October 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Vidas al límite  »

Box Office

Budget:

$55,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£356,544 (UK) (7 January 2000)

Gross:

£967,925 (UK) (21 January 2000)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the novel, Frank states that one of his dream jobs after being a paramedic was to be a medical technical advisor on films. Joe Connelly, the author, does that for this film, both providing the source material and acting as technical advisor. See more »

Goofs

At the end of the movie we see an F.D.N.Y. Ambulance in the background. The story takes place in the early 1990s. In the early '90s, N.Y.C. E.M.S. was still under The Health and Hospitals Corporation of N.Y.C. The Fire Department did not take over E.M.S. until 1995, when Mayor Rudolph Guilliani saw that E.M.S. could supplement the income of F.D.N.Y. See more »

Quotes

Marcus: Rule Number One: Don't get involved with patients. Rule Number Two: don't get involved with patients' daughters, now do you understand that?
Frank Pierce: What about Rule Number Three: Don't get involved with dispatchers named Love?
Marcus: Boy, you don't know nothin' bout Rule Number Three! Can't even begin to understand the complexities of that rule!
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Directors: The Films of Martin Scorsese (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Le Sacre du Pintemps/The Rite of Spring
Written by Igor Stravinsky
Performed by New York Philharmonic (as The New York Philharmonic)
Conducted by Leonard Bernstein
Courtesy of Sony Classical
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A brilliant film
13 November 1999 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

Bringing out the Dead, unfortunately, has fewer fans than it deserves. Why? Because this isn't simply a "New York" movie, or a movie about a paramedic, or about euthenasia, despite the ostensible setting and plot points.

Instead, Scorsese has created a cinematic myth about how haunted modern existence can be, and what it takes to be "saved" and find grace in a seemingly godless world. His vision of New York is all literate existential comedy, not a window into the rotten Big Apple. Mere satiric commentary on the tragedy of life in New York is for journeyman directors; Scorsese is doing something else entirely here.

In other words, this is that really rare beast--a literate film that is, first and foremost, still a great movie. In the plot and its implications, there's more here of Flannery O Conner or Virginia Woolf than there is here of, say, Tom Wolf. More pariticularly, Bringing out the Dead does with masterful filmmaking what Joyce's The Dead did in prose. This film is a truly eye-opening investigation into how the living exist in the shadow of the dead and dying.

The film accomplishes this incredibly difficult task on many levels--the cinematography alone should give you a clue that this is definitely not Taxi Driver or Goodfellas--there's something more sublime here (the beauty that American Beauty explains wonderfully is shown everywhere in this film, but Bringing out the Dead is less mundane, simple and "character" oriented). Every shot is right, and the numerous computer effects here--on display almost for their own sake in The Matrix--are here poetically put together by a master director.

So, just for it's approach to a subject that few movies or directors would even attempt, this film will be a classic. Oddly enough, one of the few movies it can be compared with is Hitchcock's Vertigo, which confronts the same issues in a different way. Scotty's (Jimmy Stewart) desire to "raise" the dead is as strong as Frank's, and audiences didn't much like Vertigo when it was released either.

The acting, the music, the incredible photography--they're all great, if you realize you are watching a literate, funny, well-plotted (as opposed to simply plotted) meditation on the ghosts that increasingly inhabit our technocratic dwellings.

Too good for a grade: see it on the biggest, best screen you can while you can. BTW--it's better the second time.


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