13 October 2009
The English Surgeon
Any one can tell you it's much harder to show goodness than evil. We love and remember villains; good characters doing their duty? We pay them lip service, but look at how few truly memorable good characters there are in films or books. Genuinely good people are difficult to portray without descending into mawkishness, sentimentality, or worst of all, self-consciousness.
The English Surgeon avoids all these traps and brilliantly transcends the bald summary of its story: an English neurosurgeon helps Ukranians.
Using all the elements of fiction cinema -- sophisticated composition, concrete metaphors, the impact of sound -- the documentary creates a portrait of a morally serious man in a hellish place who's committed to helping patients trapped by their own biology and geography. We meet him in Britian, in his woodshed, using a drill to put together a packing case -- a drill nearly identical to the one we'll see him use to operate with later.
It even manages to be funny, here and there. What it never is, is trivial, bathetic or self-conscious.
You need to see it.
The official web site is here.