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ALBERT SCHWEITZER

USA, 1957 (MIFF 1958, Programme 8)

Director: Jerome Hill

This portrayal of the life of a famous man who abandoned the certainty of a distinguished career to become a medical missionary in French Equatorial Africa opens with scenes from his boyhood and adolescence at Gunsbach. in Alsace, where his father was a Lutheran pastor. It was a happy home. Indeed that childhood happiness was so complete that it intensified Schweitzer's abhorrence when he saw in the animal world "the relentless struggle for existence", and he added a prayer of his own to those his parents had taught him. "Bless all living creatures, keep them from evil, and let them sleep in peace !"

The sight of the sculptured figure of a negro by Bartlioldi sparked off young Schweitzer's interest in Africa and at 30. he decided to abandon his career as a scholar and writer and study medicine in order to become a medical missionary.

The film takes us to his famous hospital at Lambarcne. There we see him ministering affectionately to die natives of the Gabon, the people to whom he has devoted his life, his talent and his love. In the daily routine we see Schweitzer's "reverence for life" and his patience with "superstition and ignorance". The huts and impersonal buildings of his hospital, and the natives who fill them, seem but momentarily protected from the surrounding jungle by Schweitzer's spirituality.

Six years in the making, the resultant film is an impressive record of the more overt features of Dr. Schweitzer's personality, as well as a constructive step in the technique of film biography.

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