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Book review
Medicinema: Doctors in Films
  1. Paul Dakin
  1. Correspondence to Dr Paul Dakin, Woodlands Medical Practice, 54 Leopold Road, London N2 8BG, UK; pdakin{at}

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Edited by Glasser Brian. Published by Radcliffe Publishing, Oxon, 2010, paperback, 148pp, £19.99, ISBN 978-1-84619-157-2

The last hundred years have become inseparably linked with the emergence of film. Human life, history and experience, recorded and represented in all its moods, manners, heroisms and imperfections, forever laid down on spools of tape or hard drive. As we settle back to enjoy the romance and action unfolding before our eyes, it is easy to understand cinema's universal and instant visual appeal. And it is not difficult to discern the reasons why, from the earliest days of celluloid and sets, scriptwriters and directors have wanted to portray medicine and its practitioners with inordinate verve and frequency. In the introduction to this book, Brian Glasser points to that fundamental human desire to observe, recount and in doing so, perhaps come to terms with the universality of sickness, the fear it engenders, those who courageously seek to combat illness and the treatments they employ, all of which have played a central role in the many representative dramas that from the earliest days of the silver screen have held a non-medical public spellbound. The performance becomes an emotional roller coaster allowing the audience to vicariously experience the highs and lows of pain and suffering without ever leaving the safety of the cinema seats that keep them one step removed from reality. It is an uncomfortable reality from which, quite naturally, we all hope to escape, but if in fact we do fall sick, film gives us examples galore of the medical personnel and therapies that will strive to keep us healthy, sane and pain-free. As doctors, we may argue whether or not such screen representations are realistic, achievable or even desirable, but nonetheless find they act as inspiration or warning.

This volume is beautifully produced with an arresting cover of Odeon style graphics. …

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  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.