6.6/10
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5 user 2 critic

Bethune: The Making of a Hero (1990)

Canadian surgeon Norman Bethune journeys 1500 miles into China to reach Mao Zedong's eighth route army in the Wu Tai mountains where he will build hospitals, provide care, and train medics.... See full summary »

Director:

Phillip Borsos

Writers:

Ted Allan, Ted Allan (novel)
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1 win & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Donald Sutherland ... Dr. Norman Bethune
Helen Mirren ... Frances Penny Bethune
Helen Shaver ... Mrs. Dowd
Colm Feore ... Chester Rice
James Pax ... Mr. Tung
Da Guo Da Guo ... Dr. Chian (as Guo Da)
Harrison Liu Harrison Liu ... Dr. Fong
Anouk Aimée ... Marie-France Coudaire
Ronald Pickup ... Alan Coleman
Geoffrey Chater ... Dr. Archibald
Zong-yao Tan Zong-yao Tan ... General Nieh (as Tan Zong Yao)
Ke-Yaw Zhang Ke-Yaw Zhang ... Chairman Mao (as Zhang Ke Yaw)
Iñaki Aierra ... Dr. Salvador (as Inaki Ayerra)
Li Hai Lang Li Hai Lang ... Shiao
Yvan Ponton ... Frank Coudaire
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Storyline

Canadian surgeon Norman Bethune journeys 1500 miles into China to reach Mao Zedong's eighth route army in the Wu Tai mountains where he will build hospitals, provide care, and train medics. Flashbacks narrate the earlier events of his life: a bout with tuberculosis at the Trudeau sanatorium; the self-administration of an experimental pneumothorax; the invention of operative instruments; his fascination with socialism; a journey into medical Russia; and the founding of a mobile plasma transfusion unit in war-torn Spain. Bethune twice married and twice divorced his wife, Frances who chooses abortion over child-rearing in her unstable marriage. By 1939, Bethune had been dismissed from his Montreal Hospital for taking unconventional risks and from his volunteer position in Spain for his chronic problems of drinking and womanizing. As his friend states: "China was all that was left." Even there, Bethune confidently ignores the advice of Chinese officials, until heavy casualties make him ... Written by Duffin, Jacalyn

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Canada | China | France

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 September 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dr. Bethune See more »

Filming Locations:

Montréal, Québec, Canada See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Filmline International See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

First major co-venture between Canada and China. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Selfless international humanitarian and communist, Dr. Norman Bethune's story
12 October 2000 | by jessewillisSee all my reviews

"I refuse to condone, by passivity, or default, the wars which greedy men make against others. Spain and China are part of the same battle. I am going to China because I feel that is where I can be most useful."

-Dr. Norman Bethune

Donald Sutherland's performance was wonderful in this film. The story is important and truly interesting. Presenting the life of Dr. Norman Bethune and his complex character, he was both selfless and arrogant, an international humanitarian, an alchoholic and a communist who acted on his beliefs (when so many of us simply talk about them). Bethune was a champion of socialized medicine and a rabid anti-facist who though subject to entirely human failings also presented the best in human achievement. Bethune's life is fascinating and truly heroic and this film demonstrates that fact very well. Several of the rational criticisms leveled at the film by other IMDB commentators are apt, but the film is a triumph nonetheless. As for the 'up with communism' criticism: Of course Mao was a big problem for China and the Chinese people. But that was not evident in 1939. In 1939 Japanese were the problem. It is easy to be smart when looking back in time and with a history book on your lap. It is harder to forsee events when they havent happened yet. Perhaps our polish friend would have chosen differently had he been in the same position. But he could not have chosen better.


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