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This is the story of the first years of the AIDS epidemic in the United States and focuses on three key elements. Dr. Don Francis, an immunologist with experience in eradicating smallpox and containing the Ebola virus, joins the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to try and understand just what this disease is. They also have deal with bureaucracy and a government that doesn't seem to care. The gay community in San Francisco is divided on the nature of the disease, but also what should be done about it. Finally, this movie deals with the rivalry between Dr. Robert Gallo, the American virologist who previously discovered the first retrovirus and his French counterpart at the Pasteur Institute, Dr. Luc Montagnier, that led to disputed claims about who was first to identify the AIDS virus.Written by
The scene where Jim Curran inquires Don Francis about what's the butcher's bill mark on the board (the death toll revolving AIDS cases) in reality was something that in reality was an idea conceived by Selma Dritz, the character played by Lily Tomlin, as mentioned in Randy Shilts book. See more »
The HD version available to stream on HBO has been cut in a few places compared to the earlier DVD release. Timecodes are for the Webversion.
@ 00:41:50 When Max Essex calls and asks Dr Gallo "Are you working on the new gay disease yet?" he just replies "No, Max." where originally he replies "No. To tell you the truth Max, that really doesn't interest me."
@ 01:41:13 After Dr. Gallo asks Dr. Popovic to call the French institute to get another sample of their virus he originally also says "And while you're at it, find out how they keep the cells alive." which has been cut.
@ 01:49:36 When Dr. Francis speaks to Dr. Gallo about the French scientists having the virus since a year and a half and can prove it in court the following dialog has been cut:
Dr. Gallo: What do they pay you? The French. Dr. Francis: The gift of time and the smile of healthy children. Dr. Gallo: Don't laugh. I've used that line 50 times and I still believe it. Dr. Francis: Who wrote it for you? Dr. Gallo: Well, of course the French are claiming they wrote it for me. A year and a half ago no less.
@ 01:51:10 Just before Dr Gallo enters the room for the meeting with the French scientists in Paris, a short sequence of the scientists waiting and a line that Dr. Luc Montagnier says; "25 minutes is quite long enough to wait." has been cut.
@ 02:03:00 When Dr. Luc Montagnier has finished his press conference a question from a reporter, and the reply, has been cut:
Reporter: Are you suggesting, sir, that Dr. Gallo stole the virus from the French? Dr. Montagnier: I think that question would best be answered by someone else. See more »
I decided to watch this movie again tonight for the first time in several years. I lived in San Francisco when the epidemic began and had a first hand view of the fear, paranoia, and grief.
The movie brings back memories of worrying about my gay child and many of my friends. We attended more than a few memorial services. My son, praise be, is fine.
The best thing about watching it so many years later is to realize how far we've come since then. AIDS is no longer the death sentence it once was. The book and the film did a great deal to raise public awareness. HBO was courageous, the actors were all first class and I believe it was realistic in its portrayal of the heroes, the villains, and the public ignorance and apathy of the time.
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