I hadn't heard anything about this movie until I listened to an Elvis Mitchell interview with the director last week. At the very end, he mentioned that the film was airing on PBS during the week. I excitedly set my DVR. I'm glad that I did.
I can't stop thinking about this movie. At times, it is harrowing. Other times, it is beautiful in a I'm fascinated with the former Soviet bloc kind of way. The entire time, it is an excellent documentary.
The film is about an English neurosurgeon, Henry Marsh, who has spent the past fifteen years visiting the Ukraine trying to transform a run down old hospital into a workable clinic. He sees as many patients as possible and performs many surgeries. Marsh knows what he does is not nearly enough but he lives his life so that he can give others even a sliver of hope in an otherwise hopeless situation.
One botched surgery years ago still haunts him everyday and he keeps coming back to it in the film.
I have never seen a scene quite like the one in this film where he removes a man's brain tumor while the patient is conscious. He does this to make sure that the patient can move his extremities the entire time so he can be sure that he isn't making any mistakes while removing the tumor. Incredible. At one point, the patient remarks that he can't believe how long it takes to drill into the skull. "No wonder boxers can take so many punches," he notes.
The score is by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.
Directed by Geoffrey Smith
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