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Something the Lord Made
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Reviews & Ratings for
Something the Lord Made (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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102 out of 111 people found the following review useful:

You must experience this movie

10/10
Author: rwerblin from United States
4 January 2005

I'm a physician who has been involved with children with congenital heart disease, including "blue babies." This movie will move you, regardless of who you are. Drs. Blalock & Taussig, whose ingenious procedure is used to convey the aspects of this film (Blalock-Taussig Shunt), were two of my 'heros.' The amazing genius and operative dexterity of surgical research phenomenon Vivian Thomas, and his focus on, love for, and persistence with his work against seemingly unscale-able obstacles, in superbly portrayed by Mos Def. His achievements, out of his background and lack of opportunities, made me feel that I should have been able to do much more than I have, given how much more was just handed to me. We should all feel we can accomplish greatly, and without resorting to destructive acts or words, when seeing the manner with which this class-act man performed. The depiction of the incredible bravery of Blalock, Taussig, and Thomas, who were embarking on not just uncharted, but forbidden surgical waters, warned that if such an "adventure" went awry, they'd be "on their own", made me feel timid and lacking in fortitude, by comparison. SEE (actually FEEL) THIS MOVIE!!

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85 out of 88 people found the following review useful:

I wasn't expecting a story this powerful.

9/10
Author: spankymac from North Carolina
22 October 2004

It's gratifying to know that I'm not the only one who was surprisingly moved by this story. I had known only a tiny part of the story before the movie: that a white surgeon and a black technician developed the process that could save "blue babies." That's a huge accomplishment, but only a portion of the story.

Alan Rickman does a splendid job portraying Dr. Blalock. There are a few moments when his southern accent slips and a little British comes through, but in terms of portrayal of the character, he is convincing. Blalock is ambitious, and in fact so focused on his professional and medical goals that sometimes he's clueless as to what others are going through to get him what he wants. He's also at turns arrogant and compassionate...exactly what one would have to be to do what he did. One thing the movie communicates very effectively is just how much of a revolution this surgery was: not merely operating on a baby heart, Dr. Blalock opened the gate to surgery on *any* human heart. Rickman doesn't overdo it, but he gets the character across.

Mos Def steals the show, however, in his subtle portrayal of Vivien Thomas. There's no grandstanding in this performance; he makes us believe that we know Thomas, and that to know him is to love him. He plays a man who had more character in his little finger than most people find in their whole lives, and he does it with zero ham. It isn't just that he gives an understated performance...he becomes this man who feels deeply even though he doesn't express it loudly. You see it in his eyes, in his pauses, in his voice. It's hard to describe, except to say that beneath the calm, quiet, even deferential exterior there is, undeniably, a whole person, a fully human, noble, wise, mature, gracious character.

A previous commentator asks if the presentation, near the end of the story, of an honorary degree was supposed to be an apotheosis of sorts. Perhaps. I suspect, however, that it isn't the conferring of a degree but the unveiling of the portrait, that actually vindicates Thomas and lifts him to his place in the medical pantheon of Johns-Hopkins' larger-than-life wonder-workers. At the end of the film, Vivien is sitting in the lobby, looking at his own portrait next to that of Blalock's when he's paged as "Dr. Thomas." He has to wipe the tears from his eyes to respond to the page. Maybe it's the degree and the portrait together.

The same commentator asked whether the film omitted mention of Thomas's eventual title. Actually, there's a scene immediately after their arrival in Baltimore in which the Director of Laboratories gives Vivien some money and tells him to bring coffee and a donut. At the end of the film, when Blalock calls Vivien's office, we see Vivien's title on the office door: Director of Laboratories. The irony is sweet.

This is a compelling, touching film, with wonderful performances all around.

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83 out of 90 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely magnificent!

Author: cfans from Harrisburg, PA
17 June 2004

I saw this movie this morning in my hotel room in Washington, DC. I was packing to go home as it was on and just a few minutes into it, I had to stop and just sit and watch. I was so moved by it, that I had to wait a while before I could leave. The tears were just streaming down my face. Later, as I was driving home, I passed an exit on the highway that indicated it was the road that eventually led to "Johns Hopkins University". I almost took that exit, but didn't because I had to get home. But I'm determined to soon make that trip to the University if only to spend a few minutes looking at the portrait of Dr. Thomas. What an incredible story and what an incredible actor Mos is. I do not have HBO at home, so I'm hoping that this movie is released on DVD. If it is, I will be purchasing multiple copies to give as gifts. A wonderful, wonderful story acted out by extremely talented actors.

Definitely, ten stars.

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49 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

medical miracle surpasses racial climate of the times

10/10
Author: Melrosemiss from United States
10 March 2005

I have seen this movie at least 8 times since it first appeared last summer and never tire of it. I must add that my entire adult working life has been in the field of medicine so maybe I have more interest than some. The names of the residents in this film are names I have heard throughout my career. I am amazed by the genius of Vivien Thomas (or anyone without medical training who could understand as he did) and at the fact that Doctor Blalock accepted him as an individual (most of the time), without regard to his race or lack of medical education. I cannot think of actors who would have done a better job than Alan Rickman or Mos Def and I applaud them, and the rest of the cast, as well as the producers, for bringing this wonderful story to life. I can only hope it will be available on DVD soon, if not yet. I have told at least 100 people about this movie, without giving away too much detail. If you are interested in medicine, and the development of new procedures that change lives, especially of the very, very young, then this is a movie for you. Even if you do not have a medical background, it is worth seeing for the genius and compassion of those two men who did not allow the racial climate of the times to overpower their desire to make a difference. To all the residents who learned at Hopkins from these two gifted men, be forever grateful that their lives touched yours, albeit briefly. We lost two very gifted men who did an exceptional job of training others to follow in their footsteps. Jeers to the staff members who were ruled by race and education and a firm salute to those who were not. I give it a 10!

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48 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

Among the Most Inspirational Movies Ever Made

10/10
Author: KensFunMail
3 July 2004

This is absolutely one of the most inspirational movies I've ever seen. The story line was great - The life and times of one of the greatest surgeons the United States has ever produced (Alfred Blalock), played by Alan Rickman, along with his lab assistant Vivien Thomas, played by Mos Def. The acting was superb. If anyone has studied medical history, we are perhaps more familiar with the work of Denton Cooley and William Longmire. Both have spots in this movie, as students of Dr. Blalock. I highly recommend this movie. It is very much a surprise how the lives of these two men - Blalock and Thomas could have been overlooked for so long. Because of their work with "Blue Babies", they both have achieved immortality. The rating of "R" stems only from the sometimes strong (but very real) language.

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47 out of 52 people found the following review useful:

What a beautiful film

10/10
Author: Mattmoon from United States
28 December 2004

I have had this movie TIVOed for several months now and just got around to seeing it. What a beautiful film! There are so many layers in this film and the relationship between the two main characters was wonderful.

Mos Def completely blew me away. His portrayal of this dignified & brilliant man was inspiring. I hope that young people today see this film because it shows us that there is a way to handle yourself. You can achieve success and happiness without being a hothead, arrogant or rude. We have lost so much in the way of manners.

I guess having a parent who has had 3 heart operations, this film touched a special cord. Cried my eyes out.

A must see.

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45 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

So good that it leaves you wanting more

Author: answar7979 from Baltimore, MD
1 June 2004

One of the earmarks of a great true story on film is that, when it's over, you find yourself wishing it had been longer and wanting to know more about the subject. This is definitely the case with "Something the Lord Made." I can't wait to do a little reading up on this very intriguing story! Alan Rickman as Alfred Blalock is excellent, as he always is, but the real pleasure is in watching Mos Def as Vivien Thomas. Through his lovely, subtly nuanced performance, we are able to truly appreciate this incredibly gifted and complex man. The writers did an excellent job of making the viewer aware of the racial climate in Viven Thomas' life; note the early scene in which Vivien and a friend are walking and talking, and each time some white people approach them on the sidewalk, they step aside and yield right of way without hesitation. And yet, there is no heavy-handedness or preachy air to these scenes. The racial injustices that Vivien Thomas endured are obvious, but the viewer is not clubbed over the head with them.

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42 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Sometimes it just feels good to be part of the world...

10/10
Author: bhodgman
8 June 2004



I admit it - I was angry that HBO gave 'The Sopranos' a week off in order to air this movie... So much so that I didn't even watch the premiere. But moping around after the Piston's blew a huge lead against the Laker's in game 2 of the NBA finals, I was flipping through and saw that it was on again. I thought to myself, 'Why not? there must be some reason they replaced 'The Sopranos' that week'. Indeed... This is a heartfelt, emotional, and inspiring film filled with performances of the like. Granted, it has its fair share of "cheesy" devices and predictability, but then again, so does "King Lear." I knew I recognized the main actor, but couldn't quite put my finger on it... Was I surprised (as well as ashamed) to learn here that it was Mos Def. I had always dismissed him as a 'hip-hop/rapper-actor' wannabe. He made me eat those words though, by delivering a simply OUTSTANDING performance... and while he and Rickman really carry the film, the supporting cast does a nice job as well.

10/10 (which I don't take lightly).

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37 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Delightful Surprise

10/10
Author: DeaconBlue from Ozarks
17 August 2004

I shouldn't have liked this - not a fan of HBO 'original' movies, nor rap stars turned actors. Great movies are made by studios or independents, not networks. Great actors come from the world of acting; not singing, painting or sports. Heck, I don't even like Barbara Streisand, in either discipline. But Queen Latifa did very well in "Bone Collector" and LL Cool J didn't quite ruin "Deliver Us From Eva." The HBO description sounded like a good story, so I gave it a chance...

WOW. Excellent story, very fine acting, authentic looking cinematography, compelling and well-developed screenplay; and a real zing for your heartstrings. The particular subject matter is interesting enough, but the real story is the human relationships, both within/among the characters & American society. As we travailed through the growing pains of integration and striving for equality whether by race, gender or social class distinction; the story of how we coped and progressed has seldom been depicted with such artistic clarity. Also, a real Believe In Yourself, Do What You Love, Don't Give Up kind of story.

Not a perfect film, might seem a bit slow-paced at times for some, but very engrossing. Along with the lead actors who portrayed their characters wonderfully, Kyra Sedgwick also turned in another fine appearance. Watching it unfold it was easy to become involved, by the end I was very pleasantly surprised to be reminded that the brilliant young leading man was Mos Def. I certainly didn't expect such a performance, but gladly admit he's most definitely a fine actor.

Glad to see it's available on DVD, definitely a MUST-SEE.

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38 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

An Astonishing Achievement

10/10
Author: Ron Smolin (rsmolin@ix.netcom.com) from Philadelphia
2 June 2004

Just about everything HBO Films produces is excellent, but this film rises into the higher levels of the stratosphere. Everything excellent about filmmaking can be found in this superb production. The story is one of the most compelling pieces of drama one could ever ask for. Medical history, black history --you name it --this film has it, and weaves a fact-based plot equal to any docu-drama ever made.

Needless to say Rickman and Def captivate us throughout the film--their regrets, frustrations, bonding, harmony and abrasiveness found between any two historic collaborators. What they achieved is one of the most significant advances in medicine ever! And the poignant life of Vivian Thomas who finally receives his just rewards--ah, the stuff that makes us all marvel at his steadfastness, his honor, his talent and pride!

This film will garner many rewards and will deserve every one of them. Hats off to the geniuses at HBO!

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