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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sorrowful tune
In the midst of the growing crisis of the AIDS epidemic, one journalist who witnessed the development and destruction wrought by this disease firsthand put together a regular series of columns chronicling what he felt was important for history not to forget. Appearing locally in San Francisco (perhaps ground zero for the epidemic, or certainly one of the first major sites...
Published on 28 April 2006 by Kurt Messick

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars When the AIDS epidemic began, the source of the ...
When the AIDS epidemic began, the source of the virus was unknown and the
search for it had all the mystery which now surrounds Ebola. It is
very difficult to capture the interest of an unknown cause when the explanation
is common knowledge. One is referred to Randy Shilts' book (on
which this film is based) for accomplishing this.
Published 3 months ago by Ernestun


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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sorrowful tune, 28 April 2006
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: And The Band Played On [DVD][1993] (DVD)
In the midst of the growing crisis of the AIDS epidemic, one journalist who witnessed the development and destruction wrought by this disease firsthand put together a regular series of columns chronicling what he felt was important for history not to forget. Appearing locally in San Francisco (perhaps ground zero for the epidemic, or certainly one of the first major sites to suffer) and then nationally in the likes of `Rolling Stone', Randy Shilts' commentary grew into the text `And the Band Played On', which follows the history of the AIDS crisis from many perspectives.

In reducing this massive tome to a reasonable-length feature, HBO pictures and Aaron Spelling (yes, Spelling, best known for Beverly Hills: 90210 and the like) had to devise a way of making it interesting and compelling for the small screen (this was a made-for-television film). They opted to follow the career of Dr. Don Francis, an epidemiologist with the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, and his team as they fought to uncover the mystery of the disease, and then had to fight to get public and official recognition of the problem.

Played by Matthew Modine, Francis gives a real sense of the frustration and confusion that faced the medical establishment in the early days of the disease. Coming at the time of a great conservative political revival on both sides of the Atlantic, a disease that seemed to affect undesirables, moral degenerates particularly (or so the popular sentiment ran), was unlikely to get any public assistance. Ian McKellan (who had yet to come out publicly as a gay man) played the political activist Bill Krause, who realised that he was fighting a difficult uphill battle during the Reagan era, when even his own Democratic party didn't want to embrace the gay community.

Perhaps the most interesting portrayal in the production is that of Alan Alda, who plays the enigmatic and controversial figure of Dr. Robert Gallo, discoverer of the first human retro-virus (which had, at that time, no disease to attach to it). Gallo's back-and-forth ego battles with the French researchers at the Pasteur Institute and with the CDC (and Dr. Francis in particular) may have caused delays and difficulties in finding adequate ways of identifying infections and virus-positive persons. The book goes into much more detail than the film about the 'which-virus-is-it?' controversy (HIV was not the first virus to which AIDS was attached). Gallo took exception to the way he was portrayed in the original film; in the updated video release there is addenda that addresses some of the issues.

The chilling decisions of hospital boards and from the troubled gay community, making decisions unwise in retrospect (and perhaps known to be unwise if politically untenable at the time) lend an air of concern about the way in which disease in general is handled in modern society. The ideal of public health concern is shown to be largely at the mercy of business and political decisions. The equally-chilling realisation that this was a disease with a potentially 100% mortality rate is an important aspect.

It almost falls into the realm of dark humour that, once there were laboratory allocations and some small budgetary allowance that it was thought that this disease would be identified, contained, and possibly cured within a matter of a few years, if not months. Now entering the third decade of the epidemic, one wonders at the misplaced optimism, and worries about what other, worse diseases are lurking around the world.

This made-for-television film is remarkable because of the number of big names that turned out for relatively small parts - Lily Tomlin, Phil Collins, Richard Gere, Steve Martin - many actors and actresses lent their support to this project as a public service, accepting only minimum union fees if any payment at all. The premiere was in Washington, D.C. before an audience which included members of Congress and government and industry leaders.

The film ends with a montage of video clips and stills of prominent people who had died of AIDS - the number of people is staggering, made apparent by the modern phenomenon of the AID quilt, a grass-roots project designed to keep the memories of each victim alive. This is the Butcher's Bill, a term coined by Nelson as he fought Napoleon, who asked what the daily death toll was. HBO films also produced an Academy Award winning documentary, `Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt', which I highly recommend as a supplement to this film.

While AIDS is no longer the automatic, immediate death sentence it once was, it is still a serious disease that has a high mortality rate, and is enormously expensive to treat and combat. But, the medical community is beginning to learn something. I hope you will take the time to listen to the story, which is an important one, put in compelling format.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and compassionate...a must see movie., 22 Nov. 2003
By 
David Wilkins (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
A deeply moving account of the emergence of HIV and AIDS in San Francisco and further abroad. Set in California for the most part it this story tells the story of the discovery and identification of the HIV virus and the sense of panic, and complancency, that ensued. Powerful and compassionate, brilliantly acted and directed this movie leaves me in tears almost every tiime. Excellent cast with an amazing number of cameos from Hollywoods top celebs.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science and Life without the Hollywood effect, 6 May 2004
By A Customer
Having stumbled on this by accident I found it one of the best docu-style dramas I have ever seen. Since it dramatises the true story on the whole evolution of the AIDS crisis throughout the world, the identification of the virus and the political, social and scientific wranglings that take place, I can say (as a professional research scientist) it is very realistic and a great and fairly realistic portrayal of the mechanics and stresses behind scientific breakthrough and the social and humanistic changes the AIDS crisis brough about. I have watched it a number of times already on a tired used video and am now trying to track it down on dvd as it is a must have movie. For me its an undiscovered shawshank redemption!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sorrowful tune..., 21 Dec. 2005
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
In the midst of the growing crisis of the AIDS epidemic, one journalist who witnessed the development and destruction wrought by this disease firsthand put together a regular series of columns chronicling what he felt was important for history not to forget. Appearing locally in San Francisco (perhaps ground zero for the epidemic, or certainly one of the first major sites to suffer) and then nationally in the likes of `Rolling Stone', Randy Shilts' commentary grew into the text `And the Band Played On', which follows the history of the AIDS crisis from many perspectives.
In reducing this massive tome to a reasonable-length feature, HBO pictures and Aaron Spelling (yes, Spelling, best known for Beverly Hills: 90210 and the like) had to devise a way of making it interesting and compelling for the small screen (this was a made-for-television film). They opted to follow the career of Dr. Don Francis, an epidemiologist with the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, and his team as they fought to uncover the mystery of the disease, and then had to fight to get public and official recognition of the problem.
Played by Matthew Modine, Francis gives a real sense of the frustration and confusion that faced the medical establishment in the early days of the disease. Coming at the time of a great conservative political revival on both sides of the Atlantic, a disease that seemed to affect undesirables, moral degenerates particularly (or so the popular sentiment ran), was unlikely to get any public assistance. Ian McKellan (who had yet to come out publicly as a gay man) played the political activist Bill Krause, who realised that he was fighting a difficult uphill battle during the Reagan era, when even his own Democratic party didn't want to embrace the gay community.
Perhaps the most interesting portrayal in the production is that of Alan Alda, who plays the enigmatic and controversial figure of Dr. Robert Gallo, discoverer of the first human retro-virus (which had, at that time, no disease to attach to it). Gallo's back-and-forth ego battles with the French researchers at the Pasteur Institute and with the CDC (and Dr. Francis in particular) may have caused delays and difficulties in finding adequate ways of identifying infections and virus-positive persons. The book goes into much more detail than the film about the 'which-virus-is-it?' controversy (HIV was not the first virus to which AIDS was attached). Gallo took exception to the way he was portrayed in the original film; in the updated video release there is addenda that addresses some of the issues.
The chilling decisions of hospital boards and from the troubled gay community, making decisions unwise in retrospect (and perhaps known to be unwise if politically untenable at the time) lend an air of concern about the way in which disease in general is handled in modern society. The ideal of public health concern is shown to be largely at the mercy of business and political decisions. The equally-chilling realisation that this was a disease with a potentially 100% mortality rate is an important aspect.
It almost falls into the realm of dark humour that, once there were laboratory allocations and some small budgetary allowance that it was thought that this disease would be identified, contained, and possibly cured within a matter of a few years, if not months. Now entering the third decade of the epidemic, one wonders at the misplaced optimism, and worries about what other, worse diseases are lurking around the world.
This made-for-television film is remarkable because of the number of big names that turned out for relatively small parts - Lily Tomlin, Phil Collins, Richard Gere, Steve Martin - many actors and actresses lent their support to this project as a public service, accepting only minimum union fees if any payment at all. The premiere was in Washington, D.C. before an audience which included members of Congress and government and industry leaders.
The film ends with a montage of video clips and stills of prominent people who had died of AIDS - the number of people is staggering, made apparent by the modern phenomenon of the AID quilt, a grass-roots project designed to keep the memories of each victim alive. This is the Butcher's Bill, a term coined by Nelson as he fought Napoleon, who asked what the daily death toll was. HBO films also produced an Academy Award winning documentary, `Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt', which I highly recommend as a supplement to this film.
While AIDS is no longer the automatic, immediate death sentence it once was, it is still a serious disease that has a high mortality rate, and is enormously expensive to treat and combat. But, the medical community is beginning to learn something. I hope you will take the time to listen to the story, which is an important one, put in compelling format.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Medical research is a long and frustrating business, 4 Oct. 2009
By 
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This review is from: And The Band Played On [DVD][1993] (DVD)
For anyone trying to teach the complexities of epidemiology to A level students this film could be invaluable. The story tracks the appearance of HIV/AIDS when scientists didn't have a clue what it was and shows the laborious, painstaking work that went in to its identification and transmission. It will show students who think that all science is instantaneous (ie CSI) that it most definitely is NOT, the biggest breakthrough coming from a huge, time consuming study of the sexual partners of one airline steward...amazing stuff.
The film is probably too long for one lesson and may need some careful editing but it is well worth the effort. My students were astounded by some of the revelations. Has an A-list cast to keep the teenage mind from wandering too far!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provocative and informative, with great performances, 15 Jan. 2006
This review is from: And The Band Played On [DVD][1993] (DVD)
Originally a TV movie, 'And The Band Played On' follows the history of the AIDS virus' emergence in the US in the late 70s/early 80s and it's reaction in the social and scientific community. Although a slow starter, it's story is a captivating one and keeps you hooked, especially in the context of today, twenty five odd years later, with changing attitudes, a more informed society and the virus still claiming an alarming number of lives.
WIth Matthew Modine and Alan Alda in the lead roles, there are also a great many guest appearances by stars such as Richard Gere, Phil Collins, Ian McKellen, Steve Martin, Anjelica Huston, the list goes on.
I've had the video for years but it's well worth owning on DVD.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OUTSTANDING!, 10 Jun. 2005
By 
Helen Rose (England) - See all my reviews
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I first saw this film when I was in college and it left a permanent mark. I don't feel that I have the right words to express to you just how good this film is. It faces the fear, the prejudice and the ignorance of AIDS at a time when the world didn't understand what it was and thought it could never happen to them. Matthew Modine puts in a stellar performance as the protagonist in this film, the man who is trying desperately to do the right thing whilst dodging politics and red tape.
What else can I say, you just need to see this film and to make up your own mind.....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And The Band Played On, 20 Mar. 2011
By 
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This review is from: And The Band Played On [DVD][1993] (DVD)
I enjoyed this film as a history research film, and helped me to understand modern day medical hot potatoes, like why Lymes Disease and ME/CFS and FMS are stuck at zero medical help in 2011, also why only in 2010 was a blood ban initiated for ME/CFS only in 2010, when it should have been applied in Oct 2009 when the XMRV virus was found in ME/CFS subjects.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Handful of tears!!, 11 Mar. 2012
By 
M. Jurin - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: And The Band Played On [DVD][1993] (DVD)
Some lad in one review wrote that it is undiscovered Shawshank Redemtion, nice comperesment :)
I LOVE this movie. It is a warm human story about pain, suffering, strugle, doubts, deapest human fears, currage, love,
emotional confusions etc. So many wonderful characters, so many wonderfully played rolles. I don't know if this movie received one oscar nomination, the way they give the oscars nowdays, this movie deserved at least five. Anyway, back on subject, highly recommended movie, a diamond hidden in a closet, a must see movie. It will brought tears to your eyes, it will make u question your own existence, your own fears, your own doubts, but above all, as there is so much care and love among characters in this
film, it will left u with warm feelings in your heart and remind u that we r all just humans, that we r all wournable and that we all deserve to be loved and to give that love back to the other people around us. Hands down.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss it, 9 Aug. 2014
This review is from: And The Band Played On [DVD][1993] (DVD)
Having lived through this terrible time and lost more friends through Aids than I can count, I found this a deeply moving, informative film. The biggest asset is the way that the relatively straightforward story telling make is easy to understand complex issues. But it's never dull. The entire cast is wonderful, with the glaring exception of Lily Tomlin, who walks through the entire film with an opinionated smirk on her face. As a serious actress, she lets the team down big time.. Well worth seeing, and if you know very little about this recent time in history, essential viewing.
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