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Michael T. Weiss,
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 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 »
And The Band Played On is an extremely powerful movie. This movie should be required viewing in any high school. The fact that it took so incredibly long for the then higher powers to admit to the existence of AIDS is stunning and sad. The performances throughout the movie were moving and effective. I thought that Sir Ian McKellan and Richard Gere represented respectfully the signs of strength and fear.
I was also disheartened to learn that throughout this tragedy, there were individuals who might have been more concerned with helping and protecting their own reputation and agenda as well as accepting the credit for their work in breaking down point by point the disease known as AIDS. Alan Alda as Dr. Gallo was fascinating. In fact all of the performances from Matthew Modine and Richard Gere to Steve Martin and BD Wong were great. The most important thing here though is the history of this disease and the hope that we can learn from it.
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