In 1860 Paris, chemist Louis Pasteur is considered a quack within the medical community for advocating that doctors and surgeons wash their hands and boil their instruments to destroy microbes that can kill their patients. He came across this belief when discovering microscopic organisms in sour wine, the organisms which could be killed if heated sufficiently. The belief among the scientific community at large is that the organisms are the result of disease and not the cause. This belief is despite the fact that thirty percent of women die in childbirth due to child bed disease, accounting for twenty thousand annual deaths in Paris alone. The debate takes Pasteur all the way to a meeting with Emperor Napoleon III and his physician, Dr. Charbonnet, who is one of the leading opponents of Pasteur. Several years later - France now a republic - much of Pasteur's reputation changes as a government sanctioned experiment with anthrax and sheep shows that a vaccine created by Pasteur proves ...Written by
An electrician for Warner Bros. studio came up to Paul Muni after an advanced screening of the film and told him that his nine-year-old son asked him to buy him a microscope because of Muni's performance. Even though he went on to win the Oscar for his performance, Muni said that this was the greatest compliment he had ever received and that all other accolades meant nothing compared to that one. See more »
A newspaper is shown announcing that the government (of France) is appropriating grazing land. The text surrounding the featured item mentions dollars and the Bronx, indicating the text was likely taken from a US newspaper. See more »
Dr. Louis Pasteur:
Will you try and explain to Dr. Radisse what we are doing?
Dr. Louis Pasteur:
He's a member of the Academy of Medicine, so you'll have to use very simple language.
Dr. Emile Roux:
We're convinced, Doctor - after eight years of experimenting - that this vaccine, when injected into the animal, will set up an immunity.
Ridiculous! It would take eighty years to convince me.
Dr. Louis Pasteur:
Eighty? Aren't you a little optimistic?
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Louis Pasteur was an important and pioneering figure in his field and ever, and his discoveries were revolutionary. He also had a very interesting life well worth telling, and one that lends itself well to film. Even though a film would not be able to cover everything about his life, it was an eventful personal life and he revolutionised so much. It would fare even better as a mini-series.
'The Story of Louis Pasteur' was one of the first biopics that came to be (and also the first of those from Warner Brothers), and it is one of the better early ones. Although not quite one of my favourite biographical films of all time, 'The Story of Louis Pasteur' is a fine example of how to do it right. Meaning that of course there would be fictional elements, and it is these elements that ring the least true here, but the subject, their personal life and what made them so important are treated with respect and not rose-tinted, distorted or falsified.
Pasteur is still a very interesting man and we do see what made him a pioneering and revolutionary figure. 'The Story of Louis Pasteur' is at its weakest in the romantic element of the story, which didn't engage as much as the rest of the film and didn't fit as well either.
Also the performances of Anita Louise and Donald Woods who struck me as a little colourless. Wouldn't have said no to 'The Story of Louis Pasteur' being longer, it did feel too brief and one does wish that there was even more to the story than was told.
However, the story is thoroughly compelling and while not everything is there it does focus on what were particularly revolutionary and in a way that engages a lot and are very intriguing, found myself learning a fair bit. Found myself relating to Pasteur with his struggles against adversity and his eventual overcoming, having been there myself.
One does not notice that 'The Story of Louis Pasteur' is low budget, it is lovingly photographed and handsomely designed. The script is literate without being worthy and very thought-provoking with a surprising amount of complexity and respect for the subject and the ability to entertain and educate. The direction keeps the film moving along briskly with few dull spots. The film is particularly worth seeing for the terrific and deservedly Oscar-winning performance of Paul Muni. The rest of the supporting cast are strong, especially Ftitz Leiber and Akim Tamiroff. Josephine Hutchison does very well with what she has.
In summary, very good. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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