Monday, September 27, 2010

"Wit": small film by Mike Nichols, as an English professor battles cancer

Mike Nichols has an HBO film “Wit” (2001), directed by Mike Nichols, where Emma Thompson plays an English poetry professor who develops advanced ovarian cancer. Her main physician (Jonathan M. Woodward) is a young man she once taught in her class and wouldn’t give an extended deadline to for a family matter.

The movie documents her chemotherapy, with all the side effects, and desperation. “I am learning to suffer” she says, at age 48. Sometimes she is allowed to go back to the classroom to teach, behind a glass wall to protect her from germs as her immune system has been destroyed.

The older doctor (Christopher Lloyd) who starts the movie with the diagnosis, shows no compassion.

Much of the film story is related in flashbacks.

But at the end her mother reads to her from the childhood books that inspired her interest in poetry.

Music by Shostalovich, Gorecki, and Charles Ives (“The Unanswered Question”). The film is based on a stage play by Margaret Edson.

Somehow I am reminded of the 1950s film “Good Morning Miss Dove”.

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