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BETHUNE

Canada, 1965 (MIFF 1966, Programme 27)

Director: John Kemeny, Donald Brittain

Bethune's life has a legendary quality about it: as a roistering young doctor in the Twenties, he was struck down with T.B. and lost one lung. As a result, he put aside the flippancies of his youth and from then on dedicated his life to his profession. In Montreal he became known as a fine surgeon. In the Thirties, the fight against Fascism took him to Spain, where he set up the world's first mobile blood-transfusion service. In 1938 he joined Mao in Yenan to care for the Chinese wounded. In these 18 months he aged 20 years and at the age of 49, he died of a blood infection that conquered his weakened body.

The brilliant combined use of pictures and actual film result in a masterful recreation of the life of this man. With subtlety and superlative editing, the images have been linked with personal reminiscences to portray Bethune's personality: aristocratic, authoritarian yet impatient of authority, sybaritic, idealistic and possessed of immense energy. This moving study of a man who dedicated his life to humanity, is one of Canada's major film achievements.

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© Melbourne International Film Festival 2013.

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